23 December 2007

15. Keep track of all expenditures in an online program like Mint

Just like my love of cataloging things and tasks, I love keeping stats of my spending. Whenever I vow to do this, I usually make up a hideously complicated spreadsheet and do spectacularly well for the first few months. That is, until I miss a few entries and I can't remember what they are and the whole perfectionism of the system blows up. I had several months of success last year with Conto, a simple OSX application that kept my perfectionism at a minimum due to the simple functionality. I lasted much longer than I expected and learned a lot but finally got derailed by business travel that made me too busy to remember to enter things manually.

I've been wanting to try Mint since it's so pretty and free, and it also has the benefit of being web-based so that I can make some progress on '71. Find a way to make a portable technology system for work that I can carry on the bike' because it doesn't rely on either the contents of my laptop's hard drive or on a very powerful device to access it.

They really don't lie that it's very fast to set up- mine took less than 10 minutes including a mishap I made in selecting the state a bank account was in (therefore not being able to log in), and for some reason not seeing the total in my savings account. I was also very impressed at how Mint categorized my transactions since it was right 90% of the time. I did experience a minor fright when a message popped up to tell me I had spent nearly $500 on food in the last month. After some sweating and trembling, I noticed it put my Spice Girls tickets in the food category - taking my food total down to a much more reasonable $160. Phew.

Other than the odd desire to spend money so I can play with the stats on more transactions, I'm very happy with Mint. The only thing that I have to be persnickety about is where my cash goes, but at the very least I have a list of all of my withdrawals. Even if I forget to say what I spent it on, at least I won't forget the total amount that's passed through my hands.

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Anonymous said...


Fabulously Broke said...

I tried it, but it was just too limiting for me... I needed to make my own spreadsheet.