So I hope you have all had the chance to think about your goals and plans for the new year and have enjoyed sharing them with your friends and family. I know a goal that many people have is to save more, or take a trip, or buy a home or car…or basically anything that will cost you some money or require you to start saving. Sometimes saving money seems impossible. There are so many things to pay for and budget in and saving money often gets lost in the shuffle.
I have found a great program that helps me to stay on budget, save money, and reach my financial goals…all for FREE!! Part of my goal with this blog was to share things I have found that help make my life better, in hopes that it will make your life better as well. So here is one of my finds that I share with anyone that asks me about financial planning.
The program is called Mint (www.mint.com). It is a free online financial organization tool. You can link Mint to all of your personal accounts (i.e. bank accounts, savings account, student loans, etc.) and Mint will import in all of the information. Then the system will analyze your spending, so instead of saying “I have no idea where my money goes…you can say I spend my money on eating out and clothes.” 🙂 You might be thinking this is too good to be true or how does it work? Mint categorizes the items you purchase in your accounts and then groups them for you. (https://www.mint.com/how-it-works/) Mint works best for those that spend with Debit or Credit cards, because if you use cash frequently there is no way to track it other than manually, which is an option.
Currently one of my financial goals is to pay off my student loans and I have been using Mint to do that. Mint can set up a program for you to tell you exactly how long it will take to pay off your loans if you pay the minimum required payment or an extra $20 per month. It is great because it figures out all the calculations for you. Mint is also a good tool for setting other goals, such as going on a vacation, saving for a car, etc. You can set aside a certain amount to save each month to reach your goal and you can track your goal in Mint.
Another part of Mint that I use regularly is the budget tool. I have a set budget for each month and with Mint I can see if I keep my budget or consistently spend more or less in one area. This really helps with saving and planning…knowing that I spend more than I budgeted for let’s say, eating out each month makes me either cut back on eating out or readjust my budget in other areas…maybe not spend as much on groceries or shopping. Once you have completed your budget for the month you can see if you are allocating all the money you have coming in or if there is money left over or being overspent. I met with a financial planner last year and one of the things he asked me was “what do you think happens to extra money in your account?” The answer was it gets spent! Usually on things that you don’t even think about, so you really should be allocating all your money to specific things so you know exactly where all your money is going.
Mint also gives you suggestions on areas where you can save based on your spending. Whether you should switch to a different savings account with a higher interest rate or you should check out a credit card that gives points in an area where you spend a lot. It analyzes and tracks everything for you making it easy to use and not very time consuming.
Mint also has free iPhone, Kindle and Android apps so that you can keep track of your spending when you are on the go. It is easy to set up an account and a great FREE program to try in the new year!
Check it out and let me know what you think!