Thousandaires, today is a big day in the history of this blog.
I have officially dropped my customized budget spreadsheet and have moved to Mint.com for my budgeting needs. Cue the collective *gasp*
I used to think I needed a customized budget spreadsheet because I wanted to do a bunch of my own analysis. Then I realized that I never did any analysis at all. In fact, I didn’t update my budget once over the last five months because all the data I really wanted to see was in my net worth tracking spreadsheet.
A Custom Spreadsheet is A Lot of Work
When I started my spreadsheet, I only had a few accounts. I wasn’t maximizing my credit card rewards, so I was just charging everything to the same card. I didn’t have a bunch of investments, so I didn’t need to track multiple trading accounts.
To update my spreadsheet recently, I have had to log into every one of my accounts (15+ of them), comb through each transaction to classify it, and then add it to the spreadsheet.
I think it was great to do all that stuff back when my net worth was hovering around $0 and I literally watched every penny closely. But now that I’m on a much more stable financial footing, I think I can chill a bit on meticulously reviewing every transaction.
The problem is I chilled a little too much recently. Net worth tracking is great, but it doesn’t replace a budget and it certainly doesn’t get the girl. I needed something easier and less time consuming.
Enter the Financial Aggregator
If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you already know about Mint.com (there’s your free link Intuit… you’re welcome). If you give Mint your login credentials to your credit cards, bank accounts, and other financial websites, they can give you all your information in one place. No more logging into 15 different places every month for my info. Sweet!!!!!!
The reason I didn’t use Mint in the past is because they didn’t have a lot of my accounts. I have some student loans through a small company in Missouri that wasn’t in Mint’s system when I first signed up. I also couldn’t figure out how to link my 401k. There were a lot of shortcomings that turned me off to the software at first.
Luckily Mint has added more companies and they are actually at the point where all but one of my accounts are linked (I still can’t link one of my health savings accounts. Grrrrr!!!). I can track every transaction within Mint and it’s easy enough that I can finally start tracking my budget again.
Oh, and they have a pretty nifty android tablet application. I’ll pretty much do anything for a sweet tablet app (including give out all of my private financial login credentials).
Do What Works for You
A year ago, I swore by my custom spreadsheet. Today I won’t swear by Mint but I’m pretty happy with it. The key is to do what works best for you.
If I only had a few accounts and felt compelled to watch every single transaction like a hawk, I’d probably still use my spreadsheet for the added customization opportunities. Today, convenience is more important to me than customization.
I bet there are 32,501 different ways to track your finances that are just as good as the two I talked about. Which one do you use?
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