Once I gave myself a deadline to make my home ownership dreams come true, I knew I needed to get a handle on where my money is going and how much of it might be diverted to savings. A friend told me about a tool that could help me do just that. It is called MINT and can be found at www.mint.com.
If you're like me, looking at your bank statement each month tells you that you spent too darned much, but not much else. What MINT does is link your bank and other accounts all in one spot so you can view the data in a variety of ways. For example, I can pull up a pie chart that shows me visually where my money went. I'm very visually-oriented, so this really works well for me. I can rotate the chart to view details of each category, drilling right down to individual transactions.
If pie-charts aren't your thing, you can elect to view your data in list form or contrasted against a budget.
This is powerful stuff!
As you can see by the graphic above that I print-screened from my own account I am spending more than half my income on rent and food, followed by a big chunk of change going to kid stuff.
My homework now is to drill-down through each category and figure out which expenses are valid and where are the areas where I can trim back my spending so those funds can go to savings instead.
In future posts I'll keep you updated on my progress building my savings, and on my experience using MINT.com and other tools I might find along the way.
Disclaimer: I make no claims or representations as to the security of Mint.com's product. I am not endorsing this product, merely sharing my own experiences with financial planning. What works for me might not be a good fit for you, so you should still do your due-diligence and read all the fine print to make sure you know what you're getting into before you try it out.