Tell us if this scenario sounds familiar: You spend all day running to a fro only to find your wallet empty and the magnetic strip on the back of your debit card nearly nonexistent. Where does all that hard-earned money go, anyway?
We’ve asked ourselves the same question about a million times, only to shrug and go about our business. Between the lattes, doctor’s appointments, lunch meetings and yes, that scarf we couldn’t resist, it’s no wonder we don’t have a better grasp on our financial picture. This year, however, we’re looking to be smarter consumers and (hopefully) more diligent savers. We’ve been testing out a few online tools to help us get a handle on it all. Here are a few we're loving:
Mint.com: If you’re looking for an app or website to help shed a little light on your current expenses and help you understand where every dollar goes, you'll love Mint. The site is incredibly user-friendly, automatically updates from all of your accounts and gives you a perfect way to visualize income and expenses. Whether you’re looking to become a more informed shopper or want to set goals for the future, Mint has just about everything you could want.
Buxfer.com: Buxfer has many of the same tools that Mint offers, but Buxfer gives us the option to manually add our financial information rather than allowing the site access to our accounts. Those concerned with online security might prefer this option. Another great tool available through Buxfer is the group budgeting and IOU feature. We love this feature for everything from girls weekends and family outings to office parties and managing a household with roommates.
ReadyForZero.com: For those of us looking to pay down debt once and for all (hands are raised high over here), ReadyForZero is a perfect solution. ReadyForZero offers a clear visual display of the progress on multiple accounts. If your credit score is haunting you, a quick upgrade to ReadyForZero Plus allows you to track that illusive number each month.
We’ve found that having a few tools in our arsenal that help us visualize our larger financial picture can be empowering. So, next time that scarf calls to us or we “need” that latte, we’ll have the knowledge to make better decisions and lead us to a better financial future. Who's with us on this one, Clementines?
p.s. One simple way to keep that budget in check each morning? Homemade flavored coffee.