Mint and Money
Time is Money – right?
We’ve all heard it. It’s no surprise that I would pick the topic of Money during Time Management Month on EricHersey.com.
Am I the best at money management? Certianly I’m not the best, but I’m also pretty organized and can tell you where my money goes. Thanks to a lovely, free website I found years ago.
The website and app is called Mint.
What is Mint?
Mint is an online web application that helps you track your purchases, budget your money, and organize your spending.
Owned by Intuit (the Turbo Tax company), this platform is free for users. There are apps for Apple and Android devices – and a mobile-friendly website. You will have to deal with in-app advertisements or “suggestions”, but they are easy to close out of.
Mint allows you to login to your banks, credit cards, bills, and online accounts. This makes it a convenient hub for all of your finances.
Why Use Mint?
For years I used Excel (or similar spreadsheet) to keep track of all my bills and finances. I would spend hours creating elaborate formulas, drop-downs, and conditional formats. At the end of the day, all I wanted was a sheet to help me know how much I was spending and what was due.
I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon the website. I imagine it was when I decided to be a stay at home dad and take a tight grip on our finances. I can trace my account back to 2013. I’ve been a regular user ever since.
Instead of wasting time making inferior spreadsheets, Mint does it all. I can get alerts when bills are due. You can spot trends for uncommon purchases or irregular spending. You can even set up monthly budgets and see your progression throughout the month. Everything I wanted in a spreadsheet and more.
The Program, Not the Process
Mint is a wonderful program to keep track of your spending. It does not, however, stop you from spending.
I’m pretty thrifty and always have been. Others in my house don’t quite have the same makeup. This makes it tricky to set budgets and goals.
Thankfully, this November we sat down and decided that we wanted a better system to keeping track. My wife decided to read (audiobook) Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. After she finished (in one afternoon), she came down and started telling me our new plan. I didn’t put up a fight. Any process is better than no process.
The Premise of The Total Money Makeover
With full transparency, I’ve yet to read the entire book. She came to me with her grand plans less than a week ago and it’s on my TO-DO list for December. But, I’m familiar with Dave Ramsey and his methodology. He’s been mentioned numerous times on How To Money, a podcast I listen to weekly. He’s also been discussed on Conrad Thompsons Q&A podcasts, Ask Conrad Anything.
Small wins are important.
Instead of trying to tackle debt with the largest interest rates, take down the smallest amounts. Once you pay off the small balances, take the money you would put towards those bills and hit the next bill. This is called the Debt Snowball Method. The snowball gets larger as you make your way towards the next bill.
It’s fairly simple and satisfying. You see bills disappear as you make your way up to paying off your large debts (cars, properties, and mortgages).
Not Just Debt
The biggest issue for me was the spending. The debt is controllable. We used credit cards for rewards and bill auto payments. On occasion we would make purchases that needed a few months to pay off. This wasn’t ideal – who wants to pay interest rates?
Even worse was our monthly purchases for clothes, food, and other unnecessary items. These can add up quickly. Before you know it, you’ve spent hundreds on fast food and dollar store junk.
This is where Mint and Ramsey would come together. Using a program to track and a process to go by, we can limit our stupid purchases and work to financial independence.
Why Did I Pick a Book and App about Money?
How much do you make per hour? Even those salary folks can get out a calculator and figure it out.
Now think about what you have to do for an hour to make your money. Even better, think about the worst task you are asked to do for your job. For me, its prying information out of an uncooperative client. You would have to add a few zeros to the paycheck to make this enjoyable.
Would I trade uncomfortable conversations for a sit-down meal at Olive Garden?
Would I deal with negative customers so I could walk around EPCOT at Walt Disney World.
Your time is money. If I decide that I would rather cook at home, I can skip the Olive Garden meal and therefor not take on the difficult client.
You don’t have to make more money to be successful. You just have to spend the money more wisely.
When you see me post on Facebook a picture of my family and I at Walt Disney World, I’ve decided the enjoyment was worth taking on another client.
The Podcast: “The Dave Ramsey Show”
I’m not a subscriber and I’ve listened to several of his shows. This podcast is a hybrid of him taking call-in questions, reading emails, giving advice, and banter and talk with is rotating co-hosts. The podcasts are less than an hour and there is quite a backlog.