After watching a TED Talk in November 2012, I realized that I needed to make some changes. In the past, we have always just bought whatever our little hearts desired in that moment. Boy, was that stupid. I had listened to Dave Ramsey in the past about beans and rice, rice and beans, but it didn't really click until I saw that Adam Baker's "Sell your crap, pay off your debt, do what you love". Once I realized that we should be focusing on paying off my husband's student loans, it finally snapped.
I had maybe heard of Mint.com in passing, but I never truly considered using the (FREE) site until then. Here's what I found by using it for over 5 months now:
1. Setting up an account takes five minutes. During the setup process, you're prompted to add your accounts, including savings, checking, retirement, loans, and more. Within a few minutes, I was immediately aware of all of our money across several accounts that would have been a pain to track otherwise. Honestly, before creating a Mint.com account, I hadn't even been looking at all of our accounts. Out of sight, out of mind.
2. Everything is in one place. As I mentioned above, it brings all of your accounts front and center so you're not having to remember to check your bank account and also your retirement funds. The info is cleverly combined into one place where you really get a scope of what's going on with your finances. I love the one big number that shows you all of your combined money at the moment, although I kind of don't like the big negative number that shows you're in debt. That's all the more motivation to only be in the green and not to stay in the red.
3. Budgeting is simple. If budgeting were this straightforward, I like to ask myself why more people aren't doing it! I always thought of budgets as intimidating, final, and something that was really tough to do. I won't lie to you: we blew some of our budgets out of the water in the first month we used Mint.com, but only because I was in the dark about how we really spent our money. I was completely shocked that we had spent over $800 in food the first month, but that's the beauty of budgeting. You adjust the numbers slightly for the next month and aim for spending less. It's a learning process, and they have made it so easy to do!
4. Saving for goals, such as a new car, is realistic. For years now, my trusty rusty old Dodge Stratus has kept me mobile, but after rebuilding the transmission (and never hearing the end of that decision from my husband!), I realized that I need to save up for another car. We've been socking away some money each month to save up for our next vehicle, which we will pay cash for. I hate debt with a passion, so I am definitely not getting a car payment. Luckily, we were prepared when we realized while having our taxes done that we hadn't been putting enough toward our taxes. We owed a whopping $1,500 to the IRS this year, but we'd saved a few times that amount, so we were totally fine to pay that the same day we found out. It sucked, but we learned our lesson, adjusted our W-4's, and moved on!
5. Checking your accounts is one click away with an app. Although the iPhone app looks much nicer, they have an Android app that gives you some basic functionality. It's on my home page, and when I am out and about, if there's any doubt in my mind about a purchase, or whether I should go home and cook or if we can afford another meal out, I'll quickly check my phone and have the answer instantly. I can also see if I'm needing to tighten up my purse strings for the week.
6. My husband and I are finally on the same financial page. Having this account has forced us to be more in tune to how we're spending the money. I'm usually the one who goes out to the grocery store, but there have been many discussions about purchases outside of what we normally spend. I had no idea how much my husband had been going out for lunch, and we soon realized that we needed to make more of an effort to cook at home and bring in a lunch instead of the daily outing to grab one.
7. We're paying $1,000 a month on student loans (and not even batting an eye)! This is probably the most exciting reason that I love Mint.com. We owed roughly $300 a month in loans, but I knew this would only keep us afloat and not really attack the problem full force. I budgeted for $500 one month, and we were both so excited to exceed that goal, that we're now paying $1,000 and sometimes more on the loans. At this pace, we're set to be debt-free in about a year and a half. When I called the loan company, the woman said, "Ma'am, you're YEARS ahead on your payments!" My response? "Yeah, we're aggressively paying off this debt!"
So what are you waiting for?! Go right now to Mint.com and sign up. Take control of your finances, your life, and your dreams by getting serious with budgeting and reclaiming your time and money. Check out the video below that breaks it all down with an overview of what they offer.
Did I mention this was FREE to use?!?!
Tutorial on how to add an account:
Tutorial on how to see trends:
Tutorial on how to set a financial goal: