(Please note that this post is NOT sponsored. I just really love this software.)
If you have been a follower of mine you know how much I love spreadsheets. Whether it be excel or google sheets, both of those played a huge part in my life. I used the spreadsheet software for everything. From planning out schedules and personal goals, to developing a solid budget that worked for me. The spreadsheets never steered me wrong!
After I was married, I applied the same budgeting spreadsheet to our household finances and began the process of learning how to be a homeowner, how much to budget for a child and basically how to adult 2.0. This method worked for us and I enjoyed keeping track of everything on almost a daily basis and using our cash systems to cash roll our spending.
My love of keeping up to date with all payments and updating my spreadsheet however, has lately become a time suck. My excitement when crossing off a payment and then figuring out what payments were coming out in order to update the spreadsheet started taking more and more time. My household and motherhood started to become denser, not allowing for the time I would like to keep a firm grasp on our finances.
Before we started our staycation, my Husband and I decided to try out some different budgeting tools that would help us have a clear picture of where we were financially, and give me a break from the constant vigilance I was keeping on all of our accounts. We started with the Dave Ramsey 'Every Dollar' app because I have always been a huge fan of it and its capabilities. Once we downloaded it however, we discovered that it wouldn't connect to American Express. That was a deal breaker for us. We have an AMEX and use it to pay for a majority of items each month (side note - we pay off the AMEX in FULL each month and there is never a balance on it. We just want the points. The sweet, sweet points.) So, with every dollar out of the picture we started looking for a software that would be able to accommodate our bank accounts and our AMEX account.
Mint is a free software application that allows you to track all of your accounts in one place in real time, setup and manage a budget, pay bills and develop goals to work towards. After experimenting with the software, we primarily use it for tracking transactions and budgeting. We pay bills through our bank account and dont' use reminders because of automatic payments.
There are several steps to set up your mint.com account, all of them quick and painless.
- Create an account
- Synch your bank accounts (all of them!) to the mint.com software
- Wait for the system to upload bank information and transactions
- Explore what it has to offer!
The first thing we did after setting everything up (steps 1-3) was to explore the transactions feature of the website. I LOVE this since it combines all transactions from every account, whether it be a credit card, bank account or paypal, everything is in one place and easy to quickly glance at. There are so many different things you can do within the transactions section of the website, and the next post I will go more in depth into the different areas and hacks that I've found to make it work smoothly for our budget.
After checking out the transactions section of the site we moved onto our favorite thing - the budget section. Here, you can create your own budget AND see a budget that mint makes for you based off of your spending habits. You can customize it down to the dollar and have a budget for individual household needs. Again, in a future post I will go more into the budget we created and how my Husband and I use this budget during our weekly finance meetings.
Thoughts So Far
I have to say, I have become a little addicted to the mint.com app and desktop version. One of my favorite things to do now is check the account every morning and see what transactions have come out. I then change the tag of the transaction (if needed!) and then jump over to the budget to see how we're doing. We are beyond thrilled with this program and we love what it's done for our family finances so far!
This program has changed basically how we control and view our money. As you may (or may not!) know, I was an avid cash user. I would take out a large sum of money each month and use cash envelopes to pay for expenses and sinking funds. When we switched to mint, I discovered that they have a feature in their program to create a budget where a payment will be taking place in the future. Mint then "sets aside" a certain amount of money to go towards that payment. What!? Game changer. We feel, for the first time, that we are in complete control of our money and goals.
What are you using to budget? Or, if you don't have a budget are you looking into starting one!? Every person and every family has different needs and different goals. Check around when you first start setting up a budget and look at what will serve you and your family the best!