Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Money Management

Tonight I went to a Relief Society meeting on money management. I truly wish that more people understood how important managing your finances really and truly is! While it is almost impossible to live in today's world without some sort of debt, learning to manage that debt is a crucial skill!

If I had ten minutes to share some advice that has has really worked for our family, this would be it: Mint.com

****Keep reading even if you aren't interested in Mint. There is a snowball debt reduction calculator at the end! Excellent for reducing debt quickly!

If you are looking for a free way to track your expenses, I would suggest Mint.com. My husband and I love using Mint. This secure online program allows you to create budgets, track money from multiple accounts, car and mortgage loans, and more! 

One thing I love about Mint is that I can see how I am doing for the month at a glance. Don't use all of your budgeted money in one category? Mint allows you to rollover your previous budgeted money to the next month. (Ex: We set aside $20/month for video games and (to my husbands dismay) we don't buy video games every month. When a new game comes along that costs $50, we have rollover from the previous month's budget to pay for it!) Conversely, if you over spend in a category, Mint will show a negative amount in your budget for the next month. (Ex: Budget is for $50, you spend $70, next month will show a budget of $30.)

Also, Mint will budget money out for annual or biannual (or insert annual here) payments. Mint automatically pulls out the $13/month for my newspaper subscription even though I only pay it once a year. Same with our car insurance. This way we don't have to physically save the money out, but it is accounted for in our monthly spending.

Any money left over can be added to a "Goal" budget category. We have savings already budgeted out so we really have not used the goal category. However, this could be your fun money!

Two different budget categories in one transaction? No sweat. Mint allows you to split the transactions into different categories to make budgeting easier! It also lets you rename the transactions. Then, you can search for "Verizon" and ba-da-bing. All of your Verizon expenses appear!
Another feature I like is the Spending Over Time graph. It will show your net income for the month. (You should have seen how low that red bar got when we put our down payment on our house! haha.)
All photos from Mint.com
 We hardly use this feature because we have auto-pay bills, but for those who tend to forget, there is always a reminder on the home screen on when your next bill is due!

Mint also has an excellent app. I use it on the go! Always nice to know if I can buy those cute shoes or not! :)

Debt Reduction Calculator

My friend had an excellent blog post about snowball debt reduction. Find it here. The gist of snowball debt reduction is to make minimum payments on all of your debts, pay off the lowest debts first (A), and then take the  same amount from debt (A) and apply that + the minimum payment to debt (B). When debt (B) is paid off, take the minimum payment from (A) and (B) to pay off (C) etc. Paying off higher interest loans has advantages, too.

Link to Spreadsheet for Snowball Debt Reduction: http://www.vertex42.com/Calculators/debt-reduction-calculator.html

I hope you have learned something! Or at least you were reminded to take a look at your finances!

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