|Show me the Money!|
February 20, 2013
Although we are primarily a “Lifestyle” blog, let’s face it money is a big factor in your lifestyle. When Heather and Ann and I met this week to talk blogging (okay, have Happy Hour), they encouraged me to delve into this topic in the name of frugality. I admit to being oddly fascinated by money management. I read lots of books on the subject; from basic personal finance to more complex investing and retirement planning. I am always scanning the library shelves and Amazon for what’s new. This is not to say that I am an expert by any means, but I will offer up some resources that I have found useful, and you might too.
As many of you know, we are in the newly retired and soon to retire and even can’t freakin’ wait to retire stages of our lives. And by us, I mean the three of us bloggers and our husbands and many of our friends. I won’t say who is in which category, however, except that I am in the last. Don’t misunderstand; we have enjoyed our careers and are appreciative of the opportunities and benefits we enjoy from work. And we are likely to continue to do some things along the way that either give us a reason to get out of bed in the morning or bring in a little extra cash or both. But while that is fine and good, it is important to know where you stand prior to making some of these decisions. I occasionally drive my husband crazy with financial updates, progress on goals, etc. One of the greatest tools for this that I have discovered is Mint.com. (You’re welcome, dear).
Mint is a free website that allows you to gather all of your financial data in one place. It will give you real-time numbers for balances in your bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and investment accounts. It will connect with Zillow.com to give you an estimate on the property you own, if you want. You can add the estimated value of other items you own such as vehicles (or sailboats?) or whatever. All you need is the online access to your accounts and you can set this up. And you don’t need to be close to retirement to have this work for you. Good for you if you are in your 20’s and are thinking ahead. Want to retire early? Set your goals, get to work and watch it happen on Mint.
Some of you are thinking, “That can’t be safe, giving them all that information”. Well the key is, you can view this information in Mint, but you can’t do anything else. You can’t move money; you can’t pay a bill, no transactions whatsoever. I appreciate this when I am traveling, because I can check on my bank accounts without really getting into my bank accounts. I don’t trust hackers at public wifi spots, but I do trust Mint. You can have Mint send you alerts for when bills are due, accounts are low, etc. It will automatically send you a weekly summary of your spending and your net worth. You can set up budgets and it will categorize your spending and keep track of where you are. You can set financial goals such as paying down debt or saving for a vacation and it will track this for you. All in one place, real-time in seconds. On your phone, your computer or iPad. I love it!
I am not a highly technical person, but I found this easy enough to set up and well worth it. It is very motivating to see the mortgage getting smaller and the investments getting bigger so we can achieve our goals of retiring and enjoying the lifestyle we want to have. Check it out at https://www.mint.com and watch your money grow!