Remember how a few weeks ago I was talking about finances and how important it is for someone in the household to keep track of what's going on? Well I have the next step for you and it's EASY, SAFE, and FREE. Seriously, I kind of freaked out with excitement when I signed up.
You NEED to find an hour in your day - TODAY - and go set this up.
Mint syncs itself with your bank account, plus any loans and credit cards. It's been reviewed and certified as safe by every authority you can think of, so there's no need to worry.
Once you sync up all of your accounts you'll have a list of transactions from the last 90 days. Probably 90% of your transactions will be automatically categorized properly by Mint - restaurants, clothes, groceries, gas, etc. But to really make the system accurate, you need to go through and tweak the categories.
Change your Target purchases from Shopping to Baby Expenses; take that restaurant meal that you put on your card (but collected half in cash for from your dining patrons) and split it out so half is marked as Reimbursable and therefore doesn't show up as an expense; take your tax refund and exclude it from Mint calculations so it doesn't skew your monthly income, etc. The possibilities for personalization are endless.
But the best part comes after you've set the system up. Once you've perfected the past 90 days, you're up and running. From here on out you just tweak the categories every week or so and then get to look at EXACTLY what you spend every month on clothes, take out, travel, gas, etc.
Because how many of us really know exactly what our gas budget, clothes budget, and take-out budget is every month? I bet almost none of us, and that's kind of horrifying.
After living with credit card debt for years (not any more), and having to be a Money Ninja with only the one income around here, I feel so passionate (and a little militant), about all of us being more knowledgeable about our spending habits. Haven't you heard? Knowledge is Power.