Establishing Habits for a Productive Life

Using Mint.com to budget my expenses

As the daughter of an accountant, I grew up hearing about the importance of managing my money responsibly.  Furthermore, as a student with very low (or rather, a non-existent) income, I am forced to be very strict about what I can and cannot spend money on.  Unfortunately, I’ve always resisted making concrete budgets for myself to stick to, instead telling myself “Yeah, I’ll try to cut my spending.”

This casual approach to saving was working for a while (I think?), but my “yeah, I’ll try to spend less” mentality now seems evaporate as soon as I pass a charming coffee shop and realize I need that $4 latte. Since I know that my self-control can sometimes be a little weak, I’ve decided that I need to take action to start developing the “saving habit” my dad has been telling me about my whole life.

Just this weekend I made a profile on Mint.com, and I’m already very impressed with the website’s functions.  Now I can set exact budget amounts- not just per month, but also within each category of spending: clothes, food & drink (subdivided into coffee shops, restaurants, groceries, etc.), general shopping, etc.  Mint.com will allow me to identify spending trends and to identify areas of my spending where I could be cutting back.

The issue with the site that makes some people hesitant to sign up is that when creating a profile, you need to enter your bank account user name and password. They ask for this information so that every time you swipe your card, the information is automatically sent to Mint.

There has been much talk about this system and whether it makes Mint.com an insecure place to house all your banking information and financial history. A NYTimes article came out a few years ago on the topics, and they assured users that the safety system seems secure. If you’re curious about the nitty-gritty details of Mint.com’s encrypting, check out the NYTimes article here.

Mint.com also has a mobile app – Mint.com Personal Finance.  It’s a super easy to use app that streamlines and simplifies your financial data enough so that you can check your current balance and budget on-the-go.  That way, as soon as you feel tempted to wander in and purchase that new Lululemon tank, you can pull up your info and maybe think twice about making that purchase.

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