Budgeting Tools

It’s a challenge for me to keep track of my spending. I’ve been trying to keep close track of my budget for years using excel, but its time consuming and is usually flawed (because I get busy and forget to record something). I know there are a ton of budgeting tools out there, but I really didn’t know where to start. Recently, one of my lovely friends from medical school introduced my to a great site that I’m now using.

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Its called Mint.com. Have you heard of it? Its great for basic budget management. You enter your online banking info (from multiple banks/ credit unions, if applicable) and it automatically pulls in all of your transactions. You can quickly and easily set up your budget categories and limits, and then you assign each transaction to a category (most will automatically be assigned, ex: J. Crew–> Shopping). It has nice graphs to let you know how close you are to exceeding your monthly limits (green is good, red is bad). Thankfully, I don’t have too many red categories this month!

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I’ve overspent on food, which isn’t surprising since I’ve had to replenish all of the items I left behind in the move (I have a $150 monthly grocery limit). Regarding “fun” spending, I’ve bought four items this month (1 & 2, 3, 4), although I do plan on making a trip to J. Crew and Nordstrom Rack this weekend. I really could use more pairs of work pants now that I’m not allowed to wear scrubs every day. Any suggestions? I wear my Minnie pants at least 2-3 times per week (they just came out with the fall colors and I have most of them already :(). I’m hoping that J. Crew comes out with other colors for the cropped matchstick, but I guess we’ll have to see. I have no idea what other brands to try! I just need a flattering skinny pant that I can layer shirts and sweaters over. Ideas?

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In the beginning of the month I didn’t have a set budget for my fun spending. I wasn’t sure how much I’d be taking home each month, nor was I sure of my monthly expenses. Now that I have an idea of these things, I’ve decided to set my splurges limit at $400 per month (wardrobe, fitness, beauty, etc). If I can do this, I’ll be able to save ~$1000 per month after expenses and retirement savings. I’m trying to ramp up my savings as much as possible so I can afford a decent car in the next year or so. I refuse to take out more loans, so I will only buy what I can pay for on the spot!

How has your July been? What big purchases are you saving for? Have a great weekend!