The Best Tool To Be Smarter With Your Money
What’s single best tool to be smarter with your money? It’s free, you can capture $1000’s, and available to to all: www.mint.com. Mint is a free financial management tool that connects to your bank, and all your credit cards, allowing you to see all your individual purchases in one place. With a click of the mouse you can categorize them. So, in a matter of minutes you will know how much you spend on various categories.
“Yippie!” You yawn. I hear you. That’s not news in itself. What is interesting is that I noticed that this one habit can capture several $1000 dollars. I’m talking about a trip to Paris sum of money. Often, when my clients start it’s the first time they have ever done financial planning, and it can be overwhelming. So, I only ask them to do one thing: Mint 2 times per week. That’s it. Nothing else. I have been doing this for over 6 years and the data is very clear. The average spending goes down by almost 10%. For someone who earns $3K monthly this is a yearly savings of $3600! The really interesting thing to note was that I didn’t tell them to “try and control, or reduce” their spending. I only asked them to mint two times per week. How can this be?
It’s easier to see when looking through the eyes of BBQ and cake. Imagine you are at a summer BBQ. Having some drinks and light fare from the buffet. (Ahh buffet’s! They are so deceptively tricky. It looks like you’re eating a little, but it’s so easy to eat a lot!) Your friends have a twisted sense of humor, and keep taking pictures of everything you eat and drink, and posting them on a large card. Even if you were the only one that saw this card, do you think it would change your behavior?
Money is exactly the same. Your bank account is like the Buffet. Right after payday you have a pretty “big spread.” However, it’s the little bites that you take out of it….buying a cupcake here…. after work drinks there, and before you know it you only have $3 left. Completely dumbfound you find yourself holding your useless ATM card saying, “ I just don’t know where my money goes.”
Is it safe? Here’s a peek into mint’s security system. “First, Mint has bank-level data security. That means we have the same level of encryption your bank does, along with outside third-party verification through Verisign and Hackersafe. We also have routine security audits where so-called “white knight hackers” try to break into our system – they’ve never been successful. We also have bank-level physical security. Our servers are located in an unmarked secure building which requires a palm scan to gain entry. After making it past guards, you have to go through a “man-trap” where one door will not open until the other closes and you again have biometric access. Once you get inside, our servers are in a locked cage monitored with 24/7 video surveillance. Get inside, and the racks themselves are locked. Break those open, and our hard drives are encrypted. It’s seven layers of protection. All that’s missing are the electrified floors…”