On a dime: Budgeting made easier

By Erinn Proehl

It seems that money is always tight for full-time college students. Most of us are making minimum wage and, with daily expenses added to tuition, we may have more bills than our parents do.

If your money seems to disappear before you know it, this article is for you.

For over two years I have been tracking my expenses on a website called Mint.com. This free, safe, and easy-to-use website will let you track all of your expenses and keep you updated on how much you are spending.

One thing that makes Mint.com so great is its ability to pull all of your financial information into one place. This lets you see your entire financial picture.

The process is easy: First, sign up by making a username and password, then link your checking and savings accounts. (Don’t be alarmed, Mint uses the same 128-bit encryption and physical security that banks use. Check out their security link online.)

Once you have connected your asset accounts, next include your liabilities. You can link all credit cards, loans and other forms of debt. Then, set up your monthly budgets. You can create as many as you like and set the dollar amount at anything over $1.

Here is my budget as an example: $70 for monthly groceries, $80 for gas, $50 for weekend activities and $70 for AOE (all other expenses such as tithes, haircuts and gifts).

Mint.com automatically places my Kroger purchases into my grocery budget, my Speedway purchases into my gas budget, and Subway into my AOE budget. Mint.com, like anything else, has an App so you can easily check your accounts on your smart phone and receive notifications if something needs attention.

Financial analysts claim you will save money if you keep a budget so that you are conscious of all your purchases. I can attest that it is easy to spend all of my money if I don’t keep track of what I have spent.

There are many budgeting tools available, but not many have the features that Mint.com has, nor are they free.

If you view Mint.com as too risky, or just can’t find the time to keep it updated, I have some advice: Just like in any part of your life, improvement takes effort. To improve your spiritual walk you must be disciplined in your devotions and prayer. To improve your fitness, you must be disciplined in your training and exercise. To improve your GPA, you must put extra effort into paying attention in class and studying for tests.

Your finances are no different. You must put effort into your budget if you hope to live a financially prosperous life.

I am not suggesting that Mint.com is foolproof, but it does provide an opportunity for you to improve your financial life.

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