budget techniques http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/14743/all en-US 8 Cool Mint Tools for Managing Your Money http://www.wisebread.com/8-cool-mint-tools-for-manaing-your-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-cool-mint-tools-for-manaing-your-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bigstock_Piggy_Bank_Lady_4609535.jpg" alt="Woman with piggy bank" title="Woman with piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://www.mint.com/">Mint.com</a> allows you to view all your financial accounts (brokerage, mortgage, loans, etc.) in one place. It's a very convenient way to navigate your financial landscape and track your spending.</p> <p>But Mint is capable of way more than that. I recently re-discovered Mint and found some cool, convenient tools that everyone can use to better manage their money without wasting time. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-budgeting-isnt-fun-youre-doing-it-wrong">If Budgeting Isn't Fun, You're Doing It Wrong</a>)</p> <h2>1. Trend Your Net Worth</h2> <p>While it&rsquo;s not a perfect way to calculate this number (Mint uses Zillow&rsquo;s estimate for property values, which is just that &mdash; an estimate), it&rsquo;s still useful to give you a good sense of how your financial picture is changing over time.</p> <h2>2. Rolled-Up Investments</h2> <p>Viewing all your investments in their different accounts as one big portfolio is cool &mdash; it makes it easy to see how your overall investments are performing (or not). You can also compare all your accounts to the three major indices, select individual accounts, or even go down to the stock/mutual fund level. A lot of investment accounts don&rsquo;t even have this information, so it&rsquo;s cool to be able to see it in one easy place.</p> <h2>3. Best and Worst Investments</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s nice to get a quick view of which stocks are bringing you down and which ones are making you look like Warren Buffett, especially if you have three or four accounts in different places. This is a good way to look at your winners and losers regardless of what account you're holding it in.</p> <h2>4. Alerts</h2> <p>Mint will send you a text or email when &quot;things&quot; happen. Things like an account going below a certain amount, if a bill is coming up, when interest-rates change, etc. You can rely on Mint to tell you when stuff is happening instead of always worrying about what&rsquo;s going on with all your accounts.</p> <h2>5. Trend Filtering</h2> <p>Trending is cool &mdash; you can do it by category (groceries, restaurants, etc.), and you can search by proper names, like Jewel or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-perimeter-perusing-at-target">Target</a> to see how you&rsquo;ve spent at specific places. It&rsquo;s neat to see how your spending on different things changes from month to month. Maybe it&rsquo;ll help explain all those times that you went to Target for a birthday card and dropped $125 on who knows what.</p> <h2>6. Alerts to Two Emails</h2> <p>When you&rsquo;re in a relationship where the money is pooled, this is a great feature. Instead of one of you having to be &ldquo;the bad guy&rdquo; and saying &ldquo;We probably shouldn&rsquo;t buy this,&rdquo; why not have Mint send an email instead? It can send an email to both of you saying &ldquo;You probably shouldn&rsquo;t buy this, you guys are over budget.&rdquo;</p> <h2>7. Save Money</h2> <p>I was skeptical when I found out how Mint makes money &mdash; since they can see all your finances, they will recommend banks and credit cards that can potentially save you money. That is, I was skeptical until they recommended a credit card that will double the amount of cash back I get. Sold! You can always ignore these recommendations, but it's probably a good idea to check them out periodically.</p> <h2>8. Create Goals</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to say you want to save money for a trip or a new car, but most of us won&rsquo;t do anything about it. With Mint, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/goal-setting-defined-and-deconstructed">setting goals</a> against your actual spending means you&rsquo;ll know if you&rsquo;re getting close or veering off track. Don&rsquo;t forget to set those alerts to keep you in line!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carlos-portocarrero">Carlos Portocarrero</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cool-mint-tools-for-manaing-your-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moments-that-are-awkward-for-everyone">10 Money Moments That Are Awkward for Everyone</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">A Comprehensive Guide to the Envelope System</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-young-entrepreneur-paid-off-40000-in-student-debt-by-age-24">How One Young Entrepreneur Paid Off $40,000 in Student Debt By Age 24</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-heart-my-high-deductible-health-insurance-plan">Why I (Heart) My High Deductible Health Insurance Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting budget techniques managing money mint.com Thu, 12 Jan 2012 11:24:11 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 860547 at http://www.wisebread.com A Comprehensive Guide to the Envelope System http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000006378012Small2.jpg" alt="Woman holding an envelope" title="Woman holding an envelope" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The availability of cool online budget tools like <a href="https://www.mint.com/">Mint</a> and <a href="https://money.strands.com/">MoneyStrands</a>, along with their smartphone apps, may make the envelope system of budgeting seem quaint or outdated. But the envelope system is one of the easiest and most effective budget tools available. Here&rsquo;s your guide. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tips-for-improving-or-starting-a-budget">8 Tips for Improving or Starting a Budget</a>)</p> <h3>What Is The Envelope System?</h3> <p>Let&rsquo;s say you set your grocery budget at $400 per month. You take $400 in cash and put it in an envelope marked &ldquo;groceries.&rdquo; When you go grocery shopping, you bring that envelope with you, pay for your groceries with the money in the envelope, put the change back in that envelope, and keep going until your next payday.</p> <p>One of the envelope system&rsquo;s best benefits is how real it is &mdash; how tactile, how tangible. Let&rsquo;s say it&rsquo;s the 20<sup>th</sup> of the month and you&rsquo;re wondering how much you have left in your clothing budget. Just look inside the envelope marked &ldquo;clothing&rdquo; and count the cash. It couldn&rsquo;t be simpler.</p> <h3>How to Set Budgets for Each Category</h3> <p>To get started, download and fill out a <a href="http://www.mattaboutmoney.com/resources/">Cash Flow Plan</a>, a written plan for how every dollar of your monthly income will be used.</p> <p>In the &quot;Now&quot; columns, write down how much you currently spend on each category. If you don&rsquo;t know, just take a guess. Then use the &quot;Goal&quot; columns to create your ideal plan, one that allows you to pursue goals that are important to you, like getting out of debt or saving for the down payment on a house, while living within your means.</p> <p>Not sure how much you <em>should </em>be spending on this or that? You can use my recommended spending guidelines (found at the same link above), which give detailed recommendations for nine different incomes and four different family sizes.</p> <p>These are <em>ideal</em> plans, meaning they assume no debt other than a reasonable mortgage. If you have debt, you&rsquo;ll have to make adjustments in discretionary categories like entertainment and vacations, but the guidelines should help you put together a viable plan.</p> <h3>Which Categories to Manage With Envelopes</h3> <p>Once you have a Cash Flow Plan, the next step is to decide where to keep the money for each category. Have your paycheck automatically deposited into your checking account. Then review my recommendations below.</p> <p>For some categories, you&rsquo;ll leave the budgeted amount in your checking account and pay the bill online or with a check.</p> <p>For bills or expenses you pay less often than monthly, open a <a href="http://www.mattaboutmoney.com/2011/03/28/why-two-savings-accounts-are-better-than-one/">Periodic Bills/Expenses savings account</a>. Each month, automatically transfer one-twelfth of the annual cost of all such bills or expenses added together from your checking account to this savings account. When the bill comes due, you&rsquo;ll be glad to have the money sitting in savings.</p> <p>For all remaining categories, withdraw the total budgeted amount in cash and fill appropriately labeled envelopes.</p> <p>Have $75 budgeted for clothing? Put $75 of cash into an envelope marked &ldquo;clothing.&rdquo;</p> <h3>Outgo and Where to Keep Each Category</h3> <p>Here are the main budget categories and my recommendations as to which ones are best suited to the envelope system.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Allowances:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Barber/Beauty:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Books:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Bus/Train/Parking/Tolls:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Cable/Satellite:</strong> Checking account</li> <li><strong>Clothing:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Cosmetics:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Debt Payments:</strong> Checking account</li> <li><strong>Dry Cleaning:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Education (miscellaneous):</strong> Envelope<strong><br /> </strong></li> <li><strong>Education (fixed monthly costs):</strong> Checking account</li> <li><strong>Food:</strong> Envelope<strong><br /> </strong></li> <li><strong>Furniture/Household:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Gasoline:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Generosity:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Gifts:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Health: </strong>Checking account or Health Savings Account</li> <li><strong>Health Club:</strong> Checking account<strong><br /> </strong></li> <li><strong>Hobbies:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Homeowner&rsquo;s/Renter&rsquo;s Insurance:</strong> Periodic Bills/Expenses savings account (if paid less paid less often than monthly. Otherwise,&nbsp;keep in checking.)</li> <li><strong>House/Apartment Maintenance:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Income Taxes:</strong> Automatically withheld</li> <li><strong>Miscellaneous:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Mortgage/Rent: </strong>Checking account</li> <li><strong>Pets:</strong> Envelope</li> <li><strong>Professional Services:</strong>Periodic Bills/Expenses savings account</li> <li><strong>Property Taxes:</strong> Periodic Bills/Expenses savings account</li> <li><strong>Restaurants/Movies/Concerts:</strong> Envelope<strong><br /> </strong></li> <li><strong>Subscriptions:</strong> Checking account</li> <li><strong>Utilities:</strong> Checking account<strong><br /> </strong></li> <li><strong>Vacations:</strong> Periodic Bills/Expenses savings account</li> <li><strong>Vehicle Insurance:</strong> Periodic Bills/Expenses savings account (if paid less often than monthly. Otherwise, keep in checking.)<strong><br /> </strong></li> <li><strong>Vehicle License/Fees:</strong> Checking account</li> <li><strong>Vehicle Maintenance:</strong> Envelope<strong><br /> </strong></li> </ul> <h3>How Often Are You Paid?</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re paid once a month, withdraw the monthly cost of all envelope categories added together each time you&rsquo;re paid and fill the envelopes. If you&rsquo;re paid twice a month, withdraw half of the monthly budgeted amount each time you&rsquo;re paid.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/trick-yourself-into-saving-more-of-your-biweekly-paychecks">paid every other week</a> (26 times a year), base most of your monthly budget on two paychecks (24 paychecks per year). Then use the two &ldquo;extra&rdquo; paychecks to cover some of your periodic bills.</p> <p>For example, let&rsquo;s say you earn $50,000, which comes out to $1,923 per paycheck. Of that, let&rsquo;s say you take home $1,500. Finally, let&rsquo;s assume you pay about $3,000 in property taxes each year. Use those two extra paychecks each year to pay your property taxes, putting the amount into your Periodic Bills/Expenses savings account until the bill comes due.</p> <h3>Other Tips for Making the Envelope System Work</h3> <p>As with any budget system, expect some trial and error. When you go grocery shopping, do you really need separate envelopes for &quot;food,&quot; &quot;cleaning products,&quot; &quot;paper products,&quot; and &quot;health &amp; beauty aids,&quot; or can you just call it all &quot;groceries&quot;? You decide what works best for you. Keep these other tips in mind as well.</p> <h4>Use a Back-of-the-Envelope Tally</h4> <p>When you spend money out of an envelope, write the date, the place where you spent the money, and the amount on the back of the envelope. This record will be helpful to you at the end of the month as you think about ways to manage that category more effectively.</p> <h4>Be Flexible in Defining Categories</h4> <p>Should that pizza you ordered on Friday night come from your &ldquo;groceries&rdquo; envelope or your &ldquo;entertainment&rdquo; envelope? You decide. If you&rsquo;re running low in your &ldquo;groceries&rdquo; envelope, use your &ldquo;entertainment&rdquo; envelope, or vice versa.</p> <h4>Robbing Peter to Pay Paul <em>Is </em>Allowed</h4> <p>In most envelope categories, draw a line and commit that when you&rsquo;re out of money you&rsquo;re done spending for the month. That&rsquo;ll force you to get really creative. For example, if you run out of entertainment money, you may discover free things you can do for fun in your area that you had never known about.</p> <p>However, if you run out of grocery money before the month is through, dumpster diving for meals isn&rsquo;t much of an option. In that case, it&rsquo;s okay to transfer money from another envelope where you haven&rsquo;t spent the entire month&rsquo;s allotment.</p> <h4>Know Which Envelope to Rob</h4> <p>If you have to raid one envelope to cover a shortfall in another, it&rsquo;s best not to tap your home and vehicle maintenance envelopes. In those categories, you may not spend the full month&rsquo;s amount this month, but you could easily need two or three months&rsquo; worth down the road, so let unspent money in those categories build up.</p> <p><em>Are you an envelope system power user? What other tips do you have?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-things-every-frugal-person-should-have-in-their-wallet">The 7 Things Every Frugal Person Should Have In Their Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cool-mint-tools-for-manaing-your-money">8 Cool Mint Tools for Managing Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-green-how-to-live-a-nearly-cash-only-life">Going Green: How to Live a (Nearly) Cash-Only Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-times-to-avoid-debit-or-credit-cards">7 Times to Avoid Debit or Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting budget techniques cash envelope budget Thu, 22 Sep 2011 10:24:22 +0000 Matt Bell 712518 at http://www.wisebread.com