Friday, January 18, 2013

Budgets, budgets, budgets!

Okay, so screw spreadsheets. Seriously, go throw them out the window. Or, you know, delete them. But we like metaphors here. I want all of you (unless you're using the envelope system, in which case I'm not sure it would help - but hell, checking it out couldn't hurt, right?) to go to Mint.com right now.

Go. Right. Now.

Okay? Okay. You link your bank accounts, car loans, credit cards, student loan, investment accounts, etc. It categorizes your purchases so you know how much you spent in fast food this month, or gas, or groceries, or your car payment. You can change these categories by selecting from their presets or by making your own categories. (It's kind of dumb and categorizes my paycheck from JCPenney as a clothing expense because they both just show up as "JC Penney" on my account.) You can set goals to project how much you need to spend a month to pay off debts you have in a certain time. I'm knocking years off by paying just thirty extra each month toward my student loan. You can set a budget. That was the kicker for me. It automatically set it for you, but then you can change whatever you want. It makes me sound like a total drunk because I've got it on my overview screen saying, "This month, you spent $137.47 on Alcohol & Bars. This exceeds your budget of $0 by $137." I'm not telling you how much it's reminding me we spent on fast food so far...

Everything in one place.

I don't know if you're like me (but I bet most of you are), but I'm extremely disorganized. One place to tell me, "Yeah, you paid the car payment this month," or, "You already spent HOW much on fast food this month???" is so helpful. You can even tell it your credit score, though I have yet to figure out why that's helpful.

By the, also go to creditkarma.com for a completely free credit score. I know a financial institution could pull up a more accurate check, but this was recommended to my dad by a loan officer at a bank while they were looking for a house and he showed it to me. It does not spam you, it does not require a credit card. I've had it for about seven months now. After six, it reminds you to log in and tell it to refresh your score because it's probably outdated. I ran into credit problems (medical bills) about two years ago and finally got them paid off shortly after first signing up for this site, so it was nice to log in and refresh earlier this month and see my score had risen. Erik's went down because of this year's student loans.

And look how cute the Mint logo is. Doesn't it make you want to visit?
Anyway, I'm off topic again. But seriously, use the sites. Please. You'll be happy, I think.