Friday, July 22, 2011

Frugal Fashion Friday - Budget with a Pinch of

Recently I've had some changes in my income. A friend who was renting a room from us is moving out (sad) and as of now, we don't have another renter. I'm not just sad because of the loss of income but she's a great friend and has been the best renter anyone could ever ask to have. 

Losing that income has forced me to take a hard look at our budget. I know me and I need help. I have a degree in Business Administration but my concentration was Marketing. I struggled through every accounting class. A few months ago while doing my taxes, I got an invite to sign up for, so I did. Frankly,  I set up my account but did nothing with it at all. It's been sitting there waiting for me until I was desperate enough to use it. I usually budget myself in my head. I look at my statements (on-line) and think before I buy. I'm great at buying frugally. I don't purchase $200 blouses but purchasing ten $20 blouses, is still $200 spent. Have no fear the fashion is coming up a little later.

Two weeks ago I went into my account and entered my information. I also downloaded the app for my iPhone. Droid users, there's an app for you too. I have to tell you, even though it hasn't even been a month, I'm in shock and in love. The great features have really opened my eyes to my spending and it's helping me to spend more thoughtfully.

I really love that I can see my spending in an instant on my iPhone. Each time I open the app it updates immediately.  It's a great way to keep a watchful eye on my spending and on my investment accounts.

Best of all Mint is completely free! They make their money, if you decide to use one of their suggested services (banks, investments, credit cards, etc.). There is no pressure to use the services they suggest and their suggestions are based on what is best for you, financially, not their own profit.

Here are a few of the features that I like best. I can't show them all so you'll have to check it out for yourself.

Enter information for each of your accounts. You can enter the name of the vendor or choose from a list. I'm an online banker and bill payer so this was easy. I entered the log in info for my accounts and it loaded all of the information for me. If you aren't registered with your vendors online, it's pretty easy to set that up with most institutions. Just check your bank or credit card statement for details, or call them. reports and analyzes your information. You can't interact with your accounts through Mint. It's complete secure and encrypted which ensures that your information is safe.

Once you enter your accounts, Mint will categorize your spending, automatically.  You can change categories or exclude an item from Mint if you'd like.

This is my real spending. :)
You can also set a budget for everything from utilities to clothing.  Mint will set a basic budget for you and you can change amounts and also create budget categories.

Once your budget is set, Mint takes your items and organizes them so that you can see where you money is being spent. I decided to go with Mint's recommendations for the first month. Then I'll make some adjustments.

That's my real spending. YIKES!

I know you are all laughing at the two items that are over budget, Alcohol & Bars and Clothing.  I was in charge of the bar at the beach house (our contribution for the week). I made a very large trip to the ABC store. I also did a little shopping while at the beach (new shoes and gifts) and before the beach.  It was pretty eye opening to see how much I'd spent on clothing this month and my clothing budget is the reason for this post. I know you've all been wondering what this has to do with fashion.


My new budget has mandated a big change in my fashion spending. In order to stay within my budget, I'm going to do a few things. If I want an item and it's larger than my budget, I'll save over several months or pull money from another "fun area" like eating out or entertainment. I'm also going to focus my shopping at thrift stores, resale shops, and take advantage of every swap event I can find. To get myself under control I'm going to put a $50 or less cap on any one item during the first 4 months.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well my friends, I'm hoping that you will all help to keep me in check.

I haven't received any compensation from for this post. I just wanted to share this information on such an easy and feature heavy way to track your spending and keep a handle on your finances. If you decide to try Mint, I'd love to know what you think.

Have a great weekend! Happy Friday!

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