So much to track
The top concern that emerged from our latest reader survey wasn't starting a budget, but sticking to one (45% of you said so). Why?
One of the biggest budget busters is—surprise!—not how you spend, but how tough it is to track the hundreds of transactions you conduct each month: debits and transfers and charges and checks galore.
All that mess gets cleared up in five minutes flat, when you use a budget program like Mint. It downloads AND categorizes your transactions, and it’s less cumbersome to maintain than Excel or Quicken.
Signals to guide you
Both Amanda and MP like Mint because a) it's free and b) it's secure and c) it lets you set a monthly spending target in each category (groceries, car, savings, health, etc.).
Then, it channels those transactions into a color-coded bar chart (see a fullscreen example here) so you can see what your current financial picture is in real-time.
The best way to use Mint is in tandem with the save-to-spend budget that helps you set your own spending and saving goals. Then, use the power of Mint's transaction-tracker to help you automate most of the tracking process (there will always be new transactions Mint doesn’t know how to categorize).
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