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Mint Budget is a tracking tool that we love using here at BNA – both our clients and our staff. Tracking your expenses can be mentally challenging, if you don’t know what you’re looking for or, more importantly, why you’re looking through old transactions. With the best intentions of monitoring their spending, people will go through their bank statements or online banking, only to find a slew of purchases and payments that they now regret having made, once the numbers can be added up. “Why did I order in food so much this month???” “I really shouldn’t have bought that.”

What people don’t realize though is that the purpose of going through past transactions isn’t to berate themselves about spending their hard-earned money, but in actuality, it’s to gather data so that they can adjust their spending moving forward to stay within their budget for the month. How much I have spent on the X category so far means that I have $Y left between now and the end of the month. Easier said than done, but still, something to consider next time you’re poking through your online banking.

In the meantime, a simple way to passively track expenses, to avoid all those negative feelings of buyer’s remorse or judging your past self for spending money, but still be on top of your finances, is to use apps that do the categorization and calculating for you.

Mint does just that Budget Tracker & Planner | Free Online Money Management | Mint (intuit.com)– it connects with your online banking and as transactions go through your accounts, it will categorize the spending for you in real-time. For categories in your overall monthly budget that you would like to have better control over (hello! Who doesn’t want to cut back on eating out?!), you can set limits for categories, and as the app tracks your spending in those categories, you can review at a glance if you are on track, close to the limit, or overspending in that category, in relation to where you are in the month. If you get close to overspending, the app can also notify you about it – kind of like a non-judgemental, slightly nagging parent.

Have multiple bank accounts and credit products that have transactions go through regularly? Not a problem! The app gathers the information from all accounts from your banking institutions (most) to make it easier for you to make financial decisions moving forward.

The thought of money management shouldn’t make you feel a knot in the pit in your stomach. If deep-diving into every purchase you’ve made in the last 30 days is not your idea of a fun time, find tools to help make it easier for you to get the information you need quickly and move on.

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