How I use the Mint app and other tools to budget even though I hate it

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Jala Eaton

The author, Jala Eaton.

Jala Eaton


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I’d like to start off by saying that I didn’t initially know I hated budgeting, but when I learned more about money mindsets, I found out that I was avoiding money. Money mindsets determine how you think and act when it comes to money. For me, being avoidant means that I don’t like to keep track of my money in the first place. I want to live in this magical world where I work and I always get paid the right amount, and when I spend money, it’s still there.

Being avoidant means ignoring the financials, knowing it’s payday and not checking my account, or never spending believing there is no money in the account. You can see why people who avoid money can have a hard time managing a budget.

Once I realized this was the case, I had to question and change those beliefs and habits. So I did. I started to budget, but on my terms.

I have found a method that works for me

To be clear, my financial life is complex.

I am in the wealth building phase which means I am doing everything now to sacrifice myself and prepare for success in the future. Translation, I generally feel poor (despite having a lot) so what’s the best thing to do? To avoid! There is the beautiful magical thought that avoids money.

The truth is, I am not living on a paycheck. I have a fully funded emergency fund and I’m investing, but still when I look at my multiple budgets, it’s scary! Yes, I mean several. I need personal budgets, business budgets and a few more. There is so much going on and so much to follow.

But remember, living on a budget doesn’t make you broke. In fact, it will save you from going broke.

So what do I do?

No, I don’t confide my problems to someone else. I authorize pen and paper, multiple spreadsheets, the Mint app, and plenty of notifications to help me with my spending plan. That’s right, I don’t even call what I’m doing a budget.

A hybrid method is really what works for me. Budgets are not universal.

I tried many budgeting strategies before I landed on my spending plan

When I first decided to create my plan, I tried pen and paper. I noted all I did it with my money for a month. It was hard and overwhelming. Then, I switched to testing the Everydollar app. It was a good app, but it looked a lot like a digital version of the pen and paper method. Mainly because my disdain for budgets comes with an even greater disdain when someone asks me to pay a monthly fee for budgeting. No thanks.

After several other change methods didn’t work for me, I decided to use Mint. Mint is free and does all the work for me. Synchronize all transactions, track my assets, bills, debts, net worth and much more.

The trade-off for Mint to be free is that there are ads everywhere. Personally, I know how to avoid credit card offers, so the ads don’t bother me that much. I don’t even want to think about what they are doing with all of my data. But I digress. It’s good to have a digital budget that I can access on my computer or cell phone that sends me reminders to pay and notifies me when the income has arrived.

Mint has become my fiscal responsibility buddy. It tracks my spending and, very gently, with cell phone alerts and emails, lets me know I’ve been over budget at Target (for the 10th time). I am able to categorize my expenses in order to have accurate reports at the end of the month. I can set savings goals and even keep up with those pesky student loans.

Now I always keep a paper journal of certain financial items for backup purposes. But this hybrid method has been great in helping this nemesis of the budget get its act together. I absolutely know and understand the need to budget and I love helping others with their budgets (go figure). However, that doesn’t mean you and I have to enjoy managing our own budget. We just have to do it.


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