Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Fresh Take On Budgeting

Because I've always been conservative with money, for years I never laid out a budget.  I was putting a significant portion of my income into savings each month, so I didn't see a need.  Then I discovered  This site is amazing.

You link each of your accounts (it's safe, I promise - and set up a budget with spending amounts for each category. (Have no fear - these can always be adjusted later.)  Each month, it codes the transactions for you (but you can adjust them to code the restaurant expense that was actually happy hour to "alcohol" or the Bed, Bath, & Beyond wedding gift from home purchases to "gifts").  You can also set up goals which you can track along the way.

I'm obsessed.  I really like knowing exactly where my money goes each month.  While I can notice trends like "Wow, I've been eating out a lot", it's a whole different level of accuracy having things all laid out there.  It also tabulates your net worth, and updates all of your accounts in real time.  This saves me from opening my stock account, my savings account, my cds, etc. and adding them all up to see where I am.  One login and boom, there it all is.

For people who are struggling with their savings goals, this tool can be invaluable.  I've had a number of friends start to use the site and then marvel at how they had no idea how much they were spending on a particular category (dining out, alcohol, entertainment, even just things like convenience store runs can add up exponentially).  

I highly suggest giving it a try.  It takes very little time to set up and even less to maintain. That being said, it doesn't do anything if you don't look at it.  You don't need to monitor every day, but figure out what works for you.  Maybe you check things once a week, once a month, or every pay period. 

Overall, I think you will see that just having this set up and checking it every once in awhile will really help you stay on track.

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