Key: Knowing where you money goes on a monthly basis.
It’s time consuming to keep all your receipts and then track your expenses so why not have someone else do it for you for free so you can focus on what’s really important. Changing your lifestyle.
Here’s a simple 5 step process that will help you get a handle on your spending habits.
1) Goto Mint.com and create an account.
a. Mint is a FREE online program that will bring all your accounts into one place and track where you’re spending your money.
b. BTW: It was just purchased by Intuit (makers of Quicken) so you know your information is safe.
2) Pick the most common credit card and/or debit card you use and link them to Mint’s personal finance system.
3) For the next month use ONLY the credit cards or debit cards you linked.
4) After a month log back into Mint and click on “Trends”.
5) See where you money is going.
WARNING: Don’t use the historical data that Mint pulls from your cards when you first sign up. Mint will pull all the historical data that is currently tracked by your card company. You might immediately see what you spent on that card over the past month however unless 100% of your spending is on those cards then it’s not accurate. What is not tracked is all the cash you spend every day, and trust me it adds up pretty quickly.
PITFALL: If you have to spend cash you can track it in Mint but you must do it manually. When you take money out using an ATM it gets tracked in Mint that you took out cash. You can track it manually in Mint but that’s unnecessary work. Remember you trying to get a handle on your spending the leanest way possible.
What to do after you get the data is up to you. I know when my nephew started tracking his debit card expenditures he was amazed at how much money he was spending at Taco Bell. At age 17 he was able to get an idea of where his money was going and he chose to decrease his Chalupa intake.
Knowing is only 50% of the battle the rest is deciding what fits best in your lifestyle. 30% of your income going to fashion might be your lifestyle. For others its food or gifts for friends and family. I can’t help you decide those however I can help you easily
get the data to make an informed decision.
If you like how easy the system works you can add on additional information to understand your entire financial picture. Add in your mortgage, auto insurance and other finances. This allowed me to target where I would improve my finances first. Ex. I’ve realized that a 10% savings on my auto insurance would equal my entire amount spent on fast food. Guess it’s time to call Progressive!!