Leah wrote a great New Year's blog on the importance of telling the truth to herself about how much food she eats. In it, she admits that she realized she ate enough on Christmas Eve to feed a small village. It was knowledge and clarity she gained by logging her calories on a nifty app (Noom). I go through periods of logging my calories and it is indeed clarifying, and sometimes even shocking. But it takes work. You have to log in every little thing. Annoying. You’d think they would invent something that would just link to your stomach and directly sync your stomach to the app and it would know how much you ate, what the nutritional value was, and tell you how to adjust for the rest of the day, week or month. Ugh, so hard.
Ok, that’s a bit *sarcastic*. But when compared to how easy it is to track your money these days, there’s little comparison. Using an app like Mint makes monitoring your adherence to your goals super simple. It syncs automatically. A few minor corrections here and there, and you’ve got great data. And when you think simple, you can make budgeting even simpler.
What do I mean by that? Well, don’t let yourself spin out by trying to assign budget amounts for every category they have, or even every category you spend money in. Mint has 21 major categories and each of those has an average of 5 subcategories. Wow. Who wants to keep track of 105 spending areas? It’s overwhelming, and thus not very motivating.
If you want to be motivated by tracking your numbers, do something simple and fun. Focus on what really matters. For me, that is often eating out, coffee on the run and groceries. I’m certainly not going to spend extra money on gasoline or the water/sewer bill, so why should I bother tracking it in a daily or weekly budget app. But I might be tempted to get a few more lattes than I said I would or a $30 bottle of wine instead of a $15 one. Using that passiveness of Mint lets me do that with hardly any hassle at all. It’s almost as if it was directly syncing with my bank (because it is).
In the budgeting area of Mint, I’ve chosen only the 6 areas that I think are important for me to monitor. I can pop in to the app on my iPhone or iPad, or log in on my computer. At a glance, I can see how I’m doing on that goal for the whole month. Totally clarifying.
What are the 6-10 most important areas for you to keep your eye on your spending?
[A little disclosure. I love Mint. I use Mint all the time. But its effectiveness is for snapshots and monitoring. In my experience, it’s ineffective when you need to capture your annual income and spending, run reports for taxes or to analyze your finances. But day to day, week to week, it’s a breath of fresh air.]
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