I love learning things that help me take care of my family better. On Monday I mentioned I was reading America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams. The book teaches the value of budgets. I love my budget! Some people feel that budgets are constricting, but I find it empowering to not have to worry about having enough money at the end of the month and be able to save and afford the things that I want. This quote makes me laugh. I feel so blessed. We are not poor. :)
With that said, keeping a budget can be hard. It requires you to actively keep an eye on where your money goes. Some people like to use spread sheets and others like to use paid programs. I am still trying to figure out what works best for me.
My favorite program to use is Mint. It is a free online service that I can access on my computer, ipad, and iphone. (It also works for those in the android market.) I love that Mint shows all my accounts. I don't have to log into my bank, savings and credit cards sites but can see it in one convenient place. It helps me see trends in spending, set goals for saving, and warns me when bills are due or I am hit by a fee. Mint automatically categorizes what I spend and shows me on a quick scale where all my money is going. I can set my own categories and change the amounts easily. I check in on it daily to see how I am doing and categorize the few things that Mint did not understand.
Mint helped me realize how much I was spending on groceries and it gave me the necessary encouragement to cut out some of the extras. (I plan to read Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family: Includes So Many Innovative Strategies You Won't Have to Cut Coupons next to find even more ways to save.) It also helped me realize what we were spending a lot of money on as a couple. It is a lot easier to realize you have a problem when you can see it visually.
We are not perfect but we try to make Mint work for us. Mr. WB and I each have a rolling allowance. So if we over spend one month the next month we start with our normal amount minus what we overspent the month before. I find this extremely helpful. Mint helps me set goals on what I want to save up and purchase next. This is my current goal.
How do you budget? What are you currently saving up for? Leave me a comment and let me know. :)