my very favorite budgeting tool {it's free!}

Do you have a budget?
We do. I'm not a big "numbers" person, but I've liked keeping track of money with lists ever since I was in high school and had my first job at 16. :)

I think I'm the money/budgeting person in our marriage, for the most part. :) Rob does all the hard stuff like making phone calls, arranging insurance, and taking care of customer service problems, and I try to make sure the bills are paid every now and then, and set the budgets for each category. I'm the spender most of the time, so it's very helpful for me to do the budgeting. I like it, plus it keeps me in line! ;)

Back when we were getting out of consumer debt, I had simple text documents and paper journals with lists and lists of every debt and dollar we had left to go. As Dave says, every dollar was on paper, and had a purpose! :)

Since then, I've left behind the paper notebook, and have been using Mint, and I LOVE it.

I never learned how to work Excel or other spreadsheet programs beyond doing sums in college, so I've been so thankful there are budgeting programs out there like Mint. It's totally free, and you put it all of your bank account information and it will display every financial transaction you have done in one place so you can budget your money easily.

I have been a big fan {and user} of Mint for a few years now, and have only enjoyed it more and more as they've added features and mobile apps. 

I've never had any problems with it - it's super easy to use, and just works. I've not been scared to have all of my information in one place, either- it's kind of like having Quickbooks online or something- nothing really happens in this program but viewing the numbers and transactions from all your online accounts in one place, and it makes your life easier!

I stole some screen shots from their website {I don't think they'll mind since I love it, right? I'm not affiliated with them in any way, just in love with their free awesomeness and wanted to share....}:
So it categorizes most of your transactions for you {which is lovely- I've used others that were manual!}, and based off what spend in each category, you can create budgets and track your progress inside of Mint like this:
This is especially helpful for those of you who are brand new to budgeting and use debit cards, because if you're just starting out, you may have no idea how much you're actually spending. {this is why mint is amazing but also hurts at the same time- you can easily see how much money is going out the window!}.

We have done a cash system a few times, but I feel better using this program because it is so much easier for me to spend cash frivolously than it is for me to have to see that red or yellow line all month long. 

Now, I will say I do hate that single moment at the register when I'm handing over multiple $20's- I won't deny that sliding a card is easier then, but I think this budgeting method is more effective for me because I really hate seeing that $100 I spent at Target all month long as I stare at Mint. I'm weird like that. ;)

If I want to {and haven't been to Target lately!}, I can even go into the graph section and see what percentage of money I'm spending where on a chart {this isn't our budget, but we almost spend more on groceries/household items than anything else in our budget- we eat a ton of food! :) }:

It's amazing. :)

Can you tell I really, really like using Mint? haha!

The only downside I can think of? There are some months I don't want to look at it or even sign in. But that's just my fault, not theirs. :)

What's your favorite way to budget? 

Are you a cash system person? Or are you more like me and try that over and over and give up every time? LOL! 

Are you the spender or the saver in your relationship?
I'm definitely the spender most of the time. Rob will buy anything for me, but hates buying anything for himself- he'd rather do without it. I dislike spending money to eat out more than he does, but I like to let him decide when we do that one! :) {I think he likes it when I don't have to cook- so again, it's probably more for my sake than his. He's such a good man! :D}


Verna said...

I'm the spender. Sigh. I'm a lot better than I used to be but still have a long ways to go. I'm so bad at budgeting. After we got out of debt, we haven't been as diligent as we should be. Work in progress, that's for sure! Thanks for sharing about Mint, I'm going to check it out!

Sabrina Jackson said...

Mint is a really good app, but it does not work for us. It has a really hard time with one of our banks (Navy Federal if anyone has it), so it almost never is accurate. I've done some research in hopes that it was something we could fix but it the other accounts we have linked to it work just fine, so I've had to ditch the app, whih is a bummer since it is free and has so many cool features.

That said, we are a cash system for the most part, with the exception of bills. Groceries, gas and blow money is all taken out of the bank each week so we dont accidentally overspend in those areas. We also do our best not to bring our debit cards with us so we aren't tempted. It has helped immensely and thankfully made us look at what we are actually buying since spending cash "hurts" a little more than platic.

Amy Hackbarth said...

Thanks for the review...I have been wondering about this program/budgeting software. I also wonder about the rewards debit card that I used to see Dave Ramsey endorse so if anyone has an opinion, please share!

Megan said...

I agree that Mint is a pretty good program, especially since it's free! But it was a little all over the place for me and not as easy as I would like. I ended up finding a program called YNAB (You Need A Budget) which to me is the most amazing budgeting system out there. It's so easy, organized, and straight forward. The main focus of the program is to break down your entire paycheck to jobs or categories as soon as you receive your paycheck so that you don't overspend at any time...i.e. groceries, gas, bills, extra spending, savings, birthdays, holidays, etc. You want to distribute your whole paycheck out. It's worked really great for us!

Anonymous said...

If you buy groceries at target but also clothes on the same transaction, does it seperate your food money from your shopping money, or does it lump it all under shopping? We track each item on a receipt (not the total of a mishmash of things on one reciept) on a spreadsheet and if it can do that it would be amazing!

Aria said...

my natural instinct is to save, but lately with an active 1 year old and a new house i find myself wanting to spend more often! a few months back we switched to a cash system for things like groceries, personal spending and gas. having cash for groceries has been really helpful for me because when the cash is gone, it means it's time to get creative with what's in the pantry. i love the idea of using to help us track debit card spending, because i know that sometimes we're bad and use the card when we don't need to. i'm so glad i discovered your blog, you have lots of great ideas for being frugal :)

Makenzie Kingsley said...

I love love love mint! I'm the saver in our family. My husband and I talked one day and realized he doesn't even know our passwords for things, haha. I love mint because it does let you split transactions into as many parts as you want. I pay all our insurances in one bill since they're from the same place, and it lets me split it to whatever amounts I want. I've done the same for several things where we maybe "eat out" at the same place we are buying groceries. Super helpful.

Anonymous said...

I've been using Mint for a few years also and love it. There is a "split" option to categorize spending when you want to separate groceries from other items. You can even set up a "budget" to save for things like Christmas gifts or vacation all year long, it really is a great program and free!

cal+claire said...

We use Mint and we looove it. We are not cash people, we are debit card people. We have 1 credit card for gas and groceries, but we use it like a debit card. We never make purchases we cannot afford to pay for right now. So I suppose we use plastic as if it's cash - I personally spend more if I have cash in my wallet than if I have to swipe the card. I am definitely the saver of our relationship, hands down. I am so frugal, it gets ridiculous

Rebekah @ Living && Learning said...

I Love YNAB!! We still use Mint occasionally just because I like some of the visuals but YNAB is great for making you accountable since you have to manually enter each transaction!

Joya Towne said...

I admire frugality. I'm trying to get to that point where I'm so frugal, it's ridiculous:0)

Anonymous said...

I know you mention this is free but is it safe to use our bank account information? I just want to make sure we won't be charged. Thank you!

Sophie from France said...

What a pity: Mint doesn't work in France! I don't like the software budget that I found, so I do my budget with a notebook, a pen and envelopes of cash! And after reading your blog, I realized that we could also get out of debt (for our credit house), and I made ​​a plan for that! I am very thrilled to see it's possible!
Thank you for your inspiration, I think the Lord has really put your blog on my way!My life is very different, (more inspired ?)...since i read your blog! Thank you!

ginadawne said...

We use Mint too and we LOVE it! I'm a little OCD about keeping track of our spending and I had been doing everything in Excel - which is fine, BUT, I was having a lot of trouble finding the time to enter all of our transactions (what with the little people needing to be fed and cleaned and nurtured :P). Then my husband found Mint and it works perfect for us. Is it weird that I'm this excited about finding someone else who uses it too? :P

Nicole Taylor said...

Hi! I've recently started following your blog. A friend of mine had told me about and I tried to convince my husband we should use it. He's currently the budgeter but we are both spenders, I think him more than me though. He wasn't fond of it, especially since he has the high security alert sense from being in the military. I would like to try to re-convince him especially since we need to try and get on track with our debt and spending.

Help :)

Victoria Wilson said...

Just sent your post to my husband! Nothing more romantic than, "Hey baby, wanna try this online budgeting tool called Mint?" LOL

But, seriously, I've tried the cash system and just never had much luck with it - plus there isn't as much security if your cash is stolen, etc. like there could be with a card. I'm sure the visuals would really make me think twice about spending.

Thanks so much for sharing Mandy! We have Baby #1 on the way so I'm taking 'household management' far more seriously than ever before.

Amanda Schulze said...

I'm so glad to see someone else recommend YNAB!

I used for a while, until I switched to a bank account that didn't support Mint's importing feature. Thankfully, I stumbled upon YNAB, and it is absolutely hands down the greatest budgeting software system/program/way of life (can you tell I like it?) available! We've been using it since September, and I find myself wondering how in the world I kept my finances straight, like, really buttoned down, before YNAB. Truth is, even though I thought I my old methods were sufficient, I never really had things under control into YNAB came into our lives.

This sounds so dramatic and over the top, but I recommend it to everyone (especially Dave Ramsey fans!), and I've gotten a lot of people on board. Check it out. You'll throw Mint aside once you see how incredible YNAB is. (Tip: YNAB offers FREE webinars and awesome support on their website. Look into them if you decide to try the software!)

Amanda Schulze said...

Sophie, if you see this, you should try YNAB ( It should work in any country!

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog. I love it. Thank you. We are a one, low income(the Lord has told me to stay home, homeschool and raise our four children), living paycheck to paycheck household. With the hours my husband works, it's hard for him to get a second job. We are trying to get out of debt, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm trying to stay strong and lean on the Lord, but there are days when I want to get a job to help out. It is taking forever and I hate all of the stress. I use an excel program to print out a form and then enter everything with pen and pencil. This is not helping. My husband doesn't help me at all with any of the bills. He makes the money and the rest is up to me. The cash system does not work for us. I never got the hang of it. I'm the saver and my husband is the spender. I don't have a cell phone that can get app's so I have to be at home to do anything. I think I'm going to try the mint program. I am a visual person so I think I'll like it. Is the YNAB free, too? All prayers are appreciated. Thank you.

Sabrina Mattthews said...

I wish it didn't cost $60. :(

Sophie from France said...

Oh thank you Amanda! I'm going to try it right now!

Dana said...

My husband and I were having the same issue as well! We would enter the transactions together so it would hurt more. :)

This post is a huge blessing, I am so excited about Mint! I am already loving it. I love how you can go in and itemize purchases if you bought a gift, home items, and groceries in the same transaction... I also love how you can change the dates! (We get paid the last day of the month, and use that total for our budget the next month.)

Thank you!