It's no secret that I'm a HUGE supporter of Mint. I think it's one of the best things that ever happened for young adults trying to get a hold of their money. Aside from the Mint review I posted, I wanted to dive a bit deeper into how Mint has actually helped me get a better grip of my money.
Ever since I moved out solo and no longer have a roommate, tracking my expenses has become a lot more important, and I've decided to get more serious about using Mint.
In order to get a good baseline for where I'm at, I decided to look at my spending habits over the past three months, which is around the time I moved to a new city. Now that I've had time to get settled and don't have to pay for too many one-off expenses like movers and cleaning, I'll have much more "consistent" spending habits.
Taking a look at the past three months I've found a ton of opportunities for improvement, and things I just need to get better with. If any of you are in the same boat and starting to really straighten out your finances, I highly recommend doing something similar. Look at your habits over the past few months to get an idea of what you should change.
Let's dive in!
1. I Buy Way Too Much Stuff I Don't Need
Here's a breakdown of the categories my money went to over the past three months.
There's no reason why I should be spending anywhere near the same amount on shopping as I do on my living expenses.
Granted, a lot of the shopping was things I needed for my new apartment, but even when I look at my spending over the past couple months, the shopping category is too big.
For instance, here's what my spending categories looked like in August.
How I'm going to fix it: It's simple--Stop spending! I've already calmed down on my online shopping a bit. Also, I need to go in and make some adjustments because some of what's being categorized as "shopping" is really things for the house like toilet paper and paper towels, which I buy from Amazon.com.
2. I Need to Start Cooking Again
Prior to moving into a huge city, I cooked a bunch of my food. I would meal prep my food ahead of time which saved me from having to cook every day.
But ever since I moved I've done less grocery shopping because:
- I didn't bring my car when I moved, so grocery shopping is kind of a hassle now.
- The costs of groceries here are a lot higher than what I'm used to paying.
- I make enough to be able to afford ordering out on a regular basis.
- My lunches are paid for by my job, so I started feeling less "guilty" about ordering out for dinner since I'm saving on lunch. It's a bad excuse, I know.
- Outside of my full-time job, I also do freelance work and run a couple other online businesses so time has become EXTREMELY limited for me.
Here's a breakdown of where my money goes for food. Fast food, food & dining and restaurants all = ordering out.
On top of the money I'm wasting, ordering out so much has also been doing a number on my health! There are just so many awesome restaurants to try here and GrubHub makes it super convenient to try them all. I've gained almost 10 pounds since moving, and that definitely can't continue.
How I'm going to fix it: I'm slowly trying to transition into cooking more. I just ordered some new seasonings from Spice Cave (I know, the online shopping is killing me!) and I'm ready to get by on my health kick! I toyed with the idea of food subscription boxes, but I'm not sure they're worth it for me.
I'm also trying to work on getting ahead on some of my freelance work so I don't feel as crunched for time.
3. I Need to Pay More Attention to My Net Worth
I'm a victim to the same thing that a lot of you probably are too. I focus on the money in my bank, and whether or not my income is increasing. But I don't put enough importance on my overall net worth.
Mint has a pretty cool tracker that paints a pretty good picture of your net worth. It looks at all the debt you have (student loans, credit cards, car loans, etc), plus all your assets (cash in the bank, property, etc.)
For a long time I just ignored this section because I knew I had some debt and looking at it was honestly a mood killer! But as I start to get more serious about my money it's something I have to face.
Although this chart isn't entirely accurate (it's including some debt that I recently paid off) it shows I have plenty of work to do to bring up my net worth.
How I'm going to fix it: You'll see in the next tip that I've made some pretty big strides in my net income. For a long time I was really going paycheck to paycheck and barely had room to breathe. Now that I'm doing a little better it's time to really work on getting rid of some of this dang debt.
4. My Net Income is Getting Better
Even though my net worth looks downright scary at the moment (it's really not that bad), the good thing is my net income has improved A LOT.
Just to break it down real quick, net worth is the sum of all your assets and debt. Net income is basically the money you have coming in vs. the money you have going out each month.
Ideally your net income will be positive, because that means you're not spending more than you're earning. And for the past few months I've been trending in the right direction!
Here's my net income over the past 12 months. September doesn't really count since we're in the beginning of the month. But I was in the green in August so that's a huge win!
How I'm going to fix it: The key here is going to be keeping my expenses down. Like I mentioned, I spend money on a lot of things I don't need so by cutting some of that out I should be able to stay in the green.
5. I Need New Clothes
Alright, so this last one is just a joke. When I looked at my shopping category, I couldn't help but notice something pretty interesting.
Apparently I don't buy new clothes too often!
How I'm going to fix it: I'm going on a shopping spree! Just kidding. I actually do spend a little money on clothes, but I typically go to stores like Target, so it doesn't get categorized as "Clothing". Don't worry, I have clothes.
Overall not too bad. Like I said, now that I'm getting more serious about tracking my money I definitely expect things to keep going better.
I'm not sure if I'll be able to do this kind of report every month, but I'll definitely give you updates from time to time!
Do you use Mint or another budgeting tool to track your money? Don't be a stranger, tell me something interested you uncovered after looking at your spending habits!