Mint (noun) : a finance website, a colour, a tasty candy treat,
a herb that tastes good in alcoholic drinks
So, I signed up with Mint.com Canada a month and a bit ago. Remember? So, for those who don't know, it's a third-party website that you can sync with your bank account and it make you budgets and helps you see where your money is going.
The whole third-party-giving-bank-info thing is vaguely sketchy (as pointed out by the lovely Hanah in the comments from my first Mint article) but, based on how many other people I know who are using it and who like and trust it (such as the fab Lane from In Mint Condition), I took a leap of faith and, so far, am really glad I did.
You get cute things like bar graphs and pie charts showing how you spend your money, which is REALLY useful for lazy people like me, who aspire to the Gail Vaz-Oxlade school of budgeting but who, in practice... just kind of spend money and then forget.
|Gail Vaz-Oxlade wears a stylish minty green top that we can all be sure was purchased either on sale or at a thrift store. Because that's how Mama Gail rolls.|
Anyway, the unexpected thing that's both good and bad about this service is that it also sends out email reminders. About everything. "You were charged a bank fee!" says one. "You were charged credit card interest!" says another. "You are overspent in your clothing budget!" "You were charged an overdraft fee!" "You are in overdraft!" etc.
(*Note: pretty sure Gail V-O would not get any of these notices because she is practically perfect in every way)
|Come to think of it, Mama Gail does have a kind of Mary Poppins style about her.|
She's just not the sort of person you want to disappoint. Plus, a cute accent.
What's good about these notifications it that it keeps me constantly aware of the financial mistakes I'm making. For years and years (i.e. my whole life up until last month) I relied on logging into my bank website to keep up to date with my finances, which made it easy to ignore these sorts of issues. But now, with these emails, I can't ignore the fact that I'm a) being charged a lot of bank fees, b) having trouble with that "not using the overdraft" thing, and c) various other concerns.
So, I guess that's all good and not bad at all, really. Every article about how to pay down debt lists "make a budget!" as the first step, and I've done that before. But Mint is helping with the follow-through - making me feel accountable for staying within these budgets. I mean, I'm not actually doing that yet but in September, that's the plan. Seriously!
September will be a very important month. It will be the month where I:
- actually stay within my budget(s)
- get rid of my overdraft
- actually follow the Shopping Detox rules (no loopholes or exceptions! I'm looking at you, my sudden and inexplicable obsession with coconut Bounty bars which are not technically chocolate bars because they are miniature and sold in packs of two!)
- clearly find some sort of hobby that can replace shopping. Maybe I can finally use that yoga Groupon I bought in the spring and downward-dog my way out of debt? Ha, that's a great blog title. Somebody should take it and start a yoga/debt blog. I will take 10% royalty for anyone who does this. (You can pay me in coconut chocolate bars)