Thursday, June 27, 2013

my very favorite budgeting tool {it's free!}

Do you have a budget?
We do. I'm not a big "numbers" person, but I've liked keeping track of money with lists ever since I was in high school and had my first job at 16. :)

I think I'm the money/budgeting person in our marriage, for the most part. :) Rob does all the hard stuff like making phone calls, arranging insurance, and taking care of customer service problems, and I try to make sure the bills are paid every now and then, and set the budgets for each category. I'm the spender most of the time, so it's very helpful for me to do the budgeting. I like it, plus it keeps me in line! ;)

Back when we were getting out of consumer debt, I had simple text documents and paper journals with lists and lists of every debt and dollar we had left to go. As Dave says, every dollar was on paper, and had a purpose! :)

Since then, I've left behind the paper notebook, and have been using Mint, and I LOVE it.

I never learned how to work Excel or other spreadsheet programs beyond doing sums in college, so I've been so thankful there are budgeting programs out there like Mint. It's totally free, and you put it all of your bank account information and it will display every financial transaction you have done in one place so you can budget your money easily.

I have been a big fan {and user} of Mint for a few years now, and have only enjoyed it more and more as they've added features and mobile apps. 

I've never had any problems with it - it's super easy to use, and just works. I've not been scared to have all of my information in one place, either- it's kind of like having Quickbooks online or something- nothing really happens in this program but viewing the numbers and transactions from all your online accounts in one place, and it makes your life easier!

I stole some screen shots from their website {I don't think they'll mind since I love it, right? I'm not affiliated with them in any way, just in love with their free awesomeness and wanted to share....}:
So it categorizes most of your transactions for you {which is lovely- I've used others that were manual!}, and based off what spend in each category, you can create budgets and track your progress inside of Mint like this:
This is especially helpful for those of you who are brand new to budgeting and use debit cards, because if you're just starting out, you may have no idea how much you're actually spending. {this is why mint is amazing but also hurts at the same time- you can easily see how much money is going out the window!}.

We have done a cash system a few times, but I feel better using this program because it is so much easier for me to spend cash frivolously than it is for me to have to see that red or yellow line all month long. 

Now, I will say I do hate that single moment at the register when I'm handing over multiple $20's- I won't deny that sliding a card is easier then, but I think this budgeting method is more effective for me because I really hate seeing that $100 I spent at Target all month long as I stare at Mint. I'm weird like that. ;)

If I want to {and haven't been to Target lately!}, I can even go into the graph section and see what percentage of money I'm spending where on a chart {this isn't our budget, but we almost spend more on groceries/household items than anything else in our budget- we eat a ton of food! :) }:

It's amazing. :)

Can you tell I really, really like using Mint? haha!

The only downside I can think of? There are some months I don't want to look at it or even sign in. But that's just my fault, not theirs. :)

What's your favorite way to budget? 

Are you a cash system person? Or are you more like me and try that over and over and give up every time? LOL! 

Are you the spender or the saver in your relationship?
I'm definitely the spender most of the time. Rob will buy anything for me, but hates buying anything for himself- he'd rather do without it. I dislike spending money to eat out more than he does, but I like to let him decide when we do that one! :) {I think he likes it when I don't have to cook- so again, it's probably more for my sake than his. He's such a good man! :D}

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