There are plenty of budgeting tools out there. Some people will choose to use a standard spreadsheet, while others will opt for a paper planner. Others opt for tools like Mint. I have a mixture.
I have a paper planner and home binder system. This is essential for me to keep track on a regular basis, but I also have a budgeting tool. Mint is my go-to app for managing my cash flow and money. It helps me stay on track with a budget that I set. And for cashing my checks my go-to is CheckCashing247.com.
But why Mint? Why not one of the other many budgeting apps out there? Here are my reasons for choosing Mint.
Connect directly to my online banking
One of the biggest selling points of Mint was the ability to connect to my online banking. This is done securely, and I can unlink any time that I want.
The benefit is that all my financial information is pulled through. It’s only the money in and out, so no details that would make my bank accounts susceptible to fraud or anything, but enough that helps with the family budget. I can check the app to see how much we’ve spent, where we are in the individual budgets that have been created, and whether money has gone in.
This part of the app is starting to become less necessary. My bank now has an app, which makes it easy for me to track a lot of things. However, I still need Mint to track my budgets clearly.
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Can change the family budgeting plans when needed
Sometimes the budget needs to change. There may be an emergency expenditure going out, which affects what I can spend in other areas. I may even overspend somewhere accidentally (or intentionally) and need to change something else. When plans change, I need a budgeting system that works with me. Mint does that.
I can quickly go into the budgets to increase or decrease them. This can be done throughout the month, as well as having the ability to change from month to month depending on my needs. It will immediately tell me if I’m over and under.
One of the great things is that the budgets break down into individual spending but it also gives me the overall budget and my spending. I may be over in one area but under in another and it all clearly balances out for me.
More: Why and how we save all year for Christmas
Can set up alerts for high- and overspending
If a high expenditure has gone out, Mint will be sure to tell me. If my budget is over somewhere, I’ll get an alert. Some of these alerts can push through to your phone or emails if you want, but you don’t need to have this.
I have a widget on my home screen on my phone. This allows me to quickly look at any alerts that have come through.
There is a downside to this. It works out an average. So it may tell me that I spent a high amount on travel one month because it’s the first time in the space of 12 months that I’ve stayed in a hotel. Mint doesn’t know if this spending was a one-off or not.
Set up budgets for short periods of time
During the Christmas season, I like to have a specific budget for it. This is something the budgeting app lets me do. I can set up the Christmas budget and track how much I’m spending.
This does get a little tricky. To make sure everything necessary goes into that budget, I have to go into each spending and chance the category. I set a “Christmas” category to make it easier for me.
It’s possible to split your purchases too. If you had a set amount for one budget and a set amount for another, it’s easy to break them down that way. This further helps to manage the budgets for a short period of time.
Keep track of my savings goals
Finally, I have savings goals. This is more than just my emergency fund. I have goals for travel and goals for buying a house. I’m saving for my family to visit our favorite camping guides at https://www.techiecamper.org. Mint allows me to set theses up, tells me how much I need to save each month for them, and helps me keep track of these goals. It can also tell me how far ahead I am to the goals.
There are some downsides. You have to set an account for these goals. If you only have one savings account, it can’t track multiple goals. This is something to consider if this is how you’re going to save.
I still use my paper planning. This is important to keep track overall and make sure my overall household spending is on track. However, Mint is an excellent budgeting tool to remain on track throughout the month and at a glance.