A Budget Tool for Non-Math Majors

I hope you had a wonderful, relaxing, fun-filled holiday weekend. I had a terrific Christmas/Hanukkah, but I feel like I need a detox after going through three days with complete disregard for nutritional content. It’s the holidays, it doesn’t count. I also feel like my bank account needs a check-up after some serious holiday shopping. I absolutely love gift-giving, but when you’re a recent grad sometimes you love the gift-giving more than your checking account does. I ‘ve discovered a really nifty (yeah, I said nifty) site called Mint which I’ve been using and have found really helpful in my quest to stop living such a paycheck-to-paycheck life. I wanted to write about it in case other recent grads were seeing a slightly alarming number when they looked at their savings accounts. Basically, Mint lets you look at all your money in one place. This makes it easier to see exactly how/where you’re spending and how you can change things to spend less or to spend smarter and also save more. The site shows your checking/savings accounts and your credit cards. It also shows you all the transactions you’ve made. It lets you set up a monthly budget (it has different categories for every type of expense you can imagine) so you can figure out exactly where your money is going and how to make necessary changes.

I find too often I’ll get my paycheck and it seems like so much money, but somehow a few weeks later I’m already waiting for my next paycheck. I have no idea how this happens. I don’t really buy anything major. So where is all this money going? It’s like it’s oozing out of my wallet. Then I think about the groceries, prescriptions, gas, that one cute shirt I just had to buy, the Subway sandwich I stopped and grabbed, all of these things that seem small when you’re swiping your card but that slowly add up. I like this site because you can figure out what areas of your life are taking the biggest chunk out of your paycheck (for me I realized it was going out to eat) and then you can make some adjustments. I’m a visual person and it helps me visualize exactly where my money is going and how quickly these small expenses add up. I didn’t really realize how often Chris and I were going out to eat until I looked at the breakdown of my money on this site. Once I saw that, I realized we needed to be bringing lunch from home and cooking dinner more. That’s helped a huge amount. Also, we’re saving up to go on a nice vacation and I’d like that to be able to happen before we’re using walkers. I’m hoping this site can help get us to that goal.

Do you feel like you’re living the paycheck-to-paycheck life? Have you tried Mint? Do you have any other tips for managing your money more carefully? I’d love to hear them! 

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