8.12.2010

Mint-y fresh.

One of the things Adam and I wanted to do right away was get our finances in order.

Neither of us were exactly what you would call super "fiscally responsible" (could be worse...but could be better!) and both of us had habits that we wanted to change.

At first, we had a grand plan of saving receipts and tallying up our monthly expenses. We even had a snazzy spreadsheet and everything!

But you know how it goes, suddenly you have a fistful of wadded up receipts and absolutely no motivation to categorize each and every blasted one so they accidentally wind up in the trash can. Whoopsie!

And while I pretended we were "gathering information" and going to start REALLY budgeting at a time called Later, basically nothing was changing.

Enter a little thing called mint.com.

Mint.com is a free (!) personal finance software and it works like this:

1. You sign up.
2. You enter your bank account information.
3. It tracks your expenses every time you swipe your card as well as any activity in your bank accounts (you have to have online banking).
4. It uses this information to create pie charts that gives you immediate insight into where your money is REALLY going.
5. It is very customizable--you can create a budget, create financial goals (i.e. saving for a trip, a home, etc.)...and will even email you if (okay...WHEN) you go over said budget.

Now, I know what you're thinking--why the crap would I enter my financial information on a website that is not my bank? Identity theft is not a joke, SARA.

To which I say, you're right. It's not for everyone. I have friends who use the cash system (thanks to Dave) and love it! And furthermore, I have a mother who would absolutely choke on her coffee if she knew I had put such information out there on the In-ter-net. (sorry, Mom! Love you!)

HOWEVER, I'm not exactly known to be a risk taker per se (understatement!) so I did a bit of homework and this is what I found:

1. Featured on NPR's All Things Considered and described as a tool for "financial slackers" and if I am honest with myself, THAT IS ME (says the girl who up until a month ago had three (!) bank accounts).
2. Featured in The New York Times in an article titled "Should You Trust Mint.com?" which addressed several legitimate concerns, such as how safe is the site? And what happens to my information if it closes?
3.The NYT article got so many people fired up, Aaron Patzer, the site’s founder & CEO, responded to the security concerns here.

After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to go for it.

And maybe we won't stick with it forever and maybe we are making a big mistake but all I can tell you is both of us finally feel informed and even though I thought ignorance really was bliss, it's been really helpful.

One evening this week, we even made a bargain with each other to eat in but go out for ice cream.

And you know what? We opted for homemade smoothies instead.

Responsibility never tasted so good.

5 comments:

jessieg said...

Yay! I'm all for being financially responsible. We recently paid off all our credit card debt, and we no longer use them. Haven't since we got married. You should feel proud you're even thinking about your finances. Saving money can be really fun, or sometimes scary when you're like me and you think, how much do I need for retirement?!

Michelle said...

I've always been pretty financially responsible, but I started using Mint a few months ago, and I LOVE it. It has really, really helped me monitor my month-month expenses in little categories, like restaurants and drinks/snacks, and given me a more realistic picture of how much I spend on things like gas and groceries each month. And the best thing has probably been a place to record all my cash transactions when I do use them (credit cards generally work better for me because of the records, and help build up my credit score bc I pay them off in full every month). At the very least it's definitely helped me in making everyday purchasing decisions. Anyway... all that gushing was just to second the awesomeness of Mint. :) (And I love you guys, of course!)

Sara said...

That is awesome! I know, it can seem overwhelming at times for sure and I'm not saying we have it all figured out--in fact, we went out for dinner last night! ha. Ohhh well. Guess you gotta live a little too. Congrats on being debt free!!!

Michelle-I'm glad you approve. It seems kind of risky to use it in a way...but I guess you are all about being 2rissky (ha, ha. INSIDE AOL SCREEN NAME JOKE!). Anyway, we love YOU of course. So come back soon please. :)

The Delimonts said...

I just wanted to tell you that we too use Mint. Austin has a fancy spreadsheet that he made himself, but uses Mint because it categorizes our spending so that he can see exactly where our money is going. He's a nerd, but I love it! So, we approve!

Sara said...

UM I was feeling confident about it BUT knowing AUSTIN approves takes it to a whole new level! I am serious!!! haha. ...and I know! It is seriously addicting (slash depressing). haha.