Do you have trouble sticking to a budget? I’ve been trying to find the time to resurrect my blog, and all of this holiday spending has finally gotten to me. I’m going to totally geek out and tell you how I try to keep a budget. Get ready, I am about to embarrassingly reveal how much of a true nerd I really am.
With over 4 million users, Mint.com is no secret. I’ve had an account since they launched. They aggregate all of your transactions from any account you link, keeping track of your bank and credit card balances. I registered, attached all of my credit card and bank accounts, and let it sit. I barely ever checked it, and when I did I just looked at the pretty charts comparing my spending to the national average.
After moving to NYC in April, I felt like my money was disappearing into thin air. I finally became serious about wanting to see where my money was running off to, so I started paying a lot more attention to my Mint account. I created budgets for everything from Groceries to Bar Money. They set up your budgets visually, making it really easy to keep on track. I don’t have the formula for a perfect budget down yet, but Mint has been essential in trying to find out what works for my wallet.
That said, the holidays throw everything off. I love love LOVE gift giving. I get to go on crazy shopping sprees that will make the people I love smile! There’s no spending remorse when you’re making people happy, what could be better? I always spend way too much, and this year I just don’t have that luxury. I decided that the best way to do my Christmas shopping this year was to get organized.
Nerd alert: I created an Excel spreadsheet. It lists everyone I’m buying for, and has columns for Items Purchased, Amount, Tax/Shipping, Store, Credit Card used, and Total. Then I put geeky formulas in to see how much I’m spending per person, and how much I’m spending total. I have a total budget that I want to stay within, and this is helping. I update it whenever I go shopping, and avoid my habit of buying a ton of things I like, and deciding who to give them to later.
So there you have it, I am a nerdy geek. I hope sharing my budgeting methods is helpful to at least one person, but if not, at least now you have something to make fun of me for!