I have a confession to make: I’m not especially good with money. One reason being that, as a freelance writer, I don’t always have a lot of it.
When your situation is less than robust financially, there’s a temptation to bury your head in the sand like an ostrich. This is a counterproductive tendency, to say the least. You can’t begin to improve things if you’re not willing to take a close, sober look at your personal finance. As Louis Brandeis said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
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So I decided to employ a very user-friendly and transparent tool to make my self-administered financial biopsy as painless as possible. This blog has covered Mint.com before, but I want to take the chance to show how it helped meet my needs.
I first signed up for Mint earlier this year, after filing my taxes. They seemed to have some reciprocal arrangement going on with my online tax service, TurboTax (which I also recommend, though I’ve had good luck with competitors of theirs as well) and there was a promotional link on the confirmation page when I got done. I had heard good things about the site, and it looked pretty useful, so I created an account and then left it alone.
Things have been kind of crazy financially for me the past year or two: not only am I a freelancer and thus subject to constant job-changing, but I got married last year and we’re still in the process of integrating our finances. We’ve decided to maintain our own separate spending accounts to reduce friction, but also to open a joint bank account for shared expenses like bills, groceries, and meals out together.
First, though, we had to have some idea how much money to put in it! That’s where Mint.com came in. Because it automatically gathers together all the information from my various financial assets and liabilities (bank account, credit cards, investments, student loans, etc.), I was able to see exactly how much I was spending on what, and then start figuring out what belonged in the joint account and what belonged in my personal “allowance.”
Mint can combine your debit and credit card transactions and break them down by the type of business you’re patronizing. This was a revelation for me: turns out I’m spending way, way too much money on eating out. OK, so I probably should have been aware of that already…but it’s another thing altogether to have it quantified right before your eyes. (I won’t reveal the actual monthly total, as it makes me feel fat just thinking of it.)
I don’t want to sound like a booster for this one site or product (I have no affiliation with them), but it really is an incredible tool with real potential to improve the lives of ordinary non-millionaires like me. Even if you feel like you’ve got your books well kept, it’s at least worth dabbling with on a rainy Saturday afternoon. You have nothing to lose but your denial!
Karen Smith is a freelance writer and business blogger whose primary goal is to inform her readers about pursuing a business degree online. She also enjoys writing about small business trends, Internet marketing, personal development, and sustainable living. Karen welcomes your comments below!
Mint is an awesome product and an affiliate of Riches Corner. Mint provides completely free, secure and convenient online money management.
I’ve personally used mint for my personal finances and budgeting for many years and highly recommend them.
You can easily sign up completely free and then simply link your financial accounts and start managing your budget. If you haven’t used mint before, I’d suggest giving them a try.