Organizing your expenses

Keeping a budget can be a pain in the… yeah, it’s not easy. But I’ve found a way to make it a lot easier. While reading Kiplingers a while back, I came across an article on organizing your expenses. The author suggested a website called Mint. Before posting about it, I wanted to check it out myself. I’m really impressed with it.

I signed up for an account about a month ago. At first, I was a little weary about the information the site asked for, but after researching all of the reviews and looking at the level of security the site uses, I decided to finish the process. After you sign up for an account, Mint can directly connect to over 5,000 financial institutions. Enter your user name and password, plus any security questions you might need to log into your financial institution’s website. Mint then logs into your financial institutions and downloads balances and transactions. I setup my bank accounts and credit cards, which took about 10 minutes. I was then given a snapshot of al my cash and debt. I was also given an overview of my spending over the last month. Some of the transactions needed to be manually categorized but for the most part the software was pretty accurate. I was able to set up my budget in the software (took about 15 minutes) and see where my money was going.  I was very pleased with the software.

Then it got better. A few days later, I received an alert that I had overspent my budget on gasoline. When I went to the site, I found a transaction that was categorized into the wrong expense account but I love the alerts. I wish there were alerts before going over my budget, but I think it’s a great start. I’m hoping they add more features, like a graph that will show you paying down your debt. The best part about this site is that it is free. The company appears to be financed by offering “savings” to its users in the form of better credit card offers than they currently have. I just ignore that part of the site, but if you have high interest credit card debt, it might be worth checking out.

I’ve been very pleased with Mint. It keeps me updated, even when I’m not logging in. It’s easy to set up and it allows you to have a living, breathing budget with very little effort on your part.

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