by brenton crozier
The sweet convenience of doing a little break-time shopping from the comfort of your desk is simply too much to resist at times. Amidst another one-time government bailout, companies making huge cuts due to the economy (wink, wink), the mass exodus of your neighbors and all the other run-for-the-hills, dire media discussion, you’ve probably decided it’s time to make some micro-economic changes. Instead of turning to our old friend the World Wide Web for comedic T-shirts, music, books, electronic doohickeys and other whatnots, you can put your credit card numbers and private financial information on the Web for constructive purposes!
There are sites designated completely to helping you better budget your cash flow and aid in making you more mindful of your spending habits . . . as depressing as that can be. One too many lunches out? That extra outfit that you just had to have? You’ll get the full breakdown of what percentage of your income you are spending in a particular area. Enjoy the shopping, but do so more responsibly with these tools.
Mint is truly a comprehensive budgeting tool. First and foremost, it allows you to see where you are spending your money. Although you have to take the leap of faith to enter your credit and debit card information, it is completely secure and the only way to get a realistic assessment of where all that flow you are making is going. You’ll get a user-friendly, daily breakdown so that you can see in vivid graph goodness, what your spending trends are. How much are you spending on that latte every morning? Then the real trick of it all is to improve! The great thing about Mint is that they don’t leave you in the dark, giving you advice on how you can better your spending habits.
I know, you are probably suspicious. All your credit card information? A free service? Are you going to see charges on your next statement for lingerie, champagne and other frivolities? No, more than 850,000 people use Mint and more than 3,000 users a day are being added. It’s proven and even heralded by leading financial publications. I have a friend who swears by it. You may ask, why don’t you set up an account? Well, I’m scared to see my finances in telling graph form.
Mint also analyzes your credit card spending and payment history to see if you’d save money with a new credit card. You can either use their software to get a card more fitting for your lifestyle or a better interest rate on your current card. Reduce your debt, make a realistic plan for paying off student loans, save for retirement and even plan to buy a car with Mint’s impressive software. Ok, I’ve convinced myself, I need you Mint.
There are many other free online budgeting tools including justbudget.com, mvelopes.com and betterbudgeting.com and you may find that one of these works better for you. But I doubt it.
$$ saving shopping tools
We all know that you’re still going to spend money online, because self control is overrated, work is often boring and you love the gratification that comes in seeing the men in brown jog up to your door with a cardboard enclosed gift to yourself. So, at least shop smart with sites that will save you some dough.
Get instant cash back, rebates and fantastic coupons.
Yep, it’s what it says it is! Find the merchant you’re looking through in their directory and make that purchase without paying the first cent for the shipping.
Upromise is especially great for parents, but anyone can sign up. Make your purchases count towards college savings for your children, a niece, nephew, cousin, friend’s kid, the annoying neighbor kid that leaves his bike on your lawn or anybody. You get generous discounts when you shop through their website and it all goes towards higher education savings.
by brenton crozier