In fact, when I realized that I had to get involved and take responsibility for our financial situation, I would get a panic attack at the thought of even logging into our bank account and credit card accounts. I shared this fear with my daughter and she suggested that I try to just log into the bank account every day at first. Once I could do this without anxiety, I added credit cards to the repertoire. Baby steps… it worked!
Now I go into withdrawals if I do not log into my bank account and MINT super regularly. Talk about role reversal!! Plus, if I have more than one week of activity to catch up on, it can take me a fair bit of time to process.
Here’s what I do on a daily basis, usually first thing in the morning (if I miss that, I do it that evening, most days!)
- I log into our bank and record the following in excel worksheets for (1) annual expenses by month (2) monthly cash flow balance and projection (3) net worth:
- automatic bill payments
- income deposited
- expenses that have been processed through my credit card overnight (we use a credit card with high cashback % for any and everything we can)
- net worth – this net worth is based on investments less liabilities, excluded property and non-investment assets. See below in MINT where I record our full net worth. It’s important to me to see my net worth fluctuations on a daily basis because if it goes down, it’s usually due to market fluctuations. I’ve lost 10-15K in a 2-3 day period and felt like I was living through the stock market crash of 1929! Actually this has happened on a number of occasions in the last two years. It has always come back, sometimes taking up to a month, but knowing my propensity for the wanting to bury my head in the sand, I need to face the facts daily and not hide from bad news. Doing this regularly takes the jitters out of me when the market takes a bit of a tumble. Worst case is, I will pick up the phone and
firediscuss with my broker, if I think I need to take action.
- I log into MINT and review the transactions posted, make sure they are classified correctly against my budget. MINT also tracks NET WORTH which is really accurate because it includes all the latest figures for both of us from all of our sources. You can also record property and other assets – I have our house and vehicles here so my MINT net worth gives me the whole enchilada. I record it daily in a separate worksheet of my excel file, complete with my graphs! MINT has graphs too and I do look at them, but I also like that I have control over the look of the ones I created.
- Every 2 weeks when our mortgage is paid, I update a worksheet that I am forecasting and tracking actual figures for mortgage duration remaining. This is a little game for me as I love to see those months fall off every two weeks. Keep in mind I have 3 step mortgages, and my third one (the largest) is all consumer debt related. This one started at 26 years amortization 2 years ago. Currently it’s at under 16 years since I maximized prepayments each year. I’ve also started double payments on this one recently so it falls by at least two months every month.
You may wonder why I use both an excel file and MINT. I started out building my workbook long before I knew about MINT. I had my process working for about 8 months before I added MINT to it.
MINT does not track CASHFLOW, therefore I still need my excel file for that. Since I started doing my budget tracking in excel, I still keep that up. It is a bit redundant with MINT, but I’m comfortable with it. There’s nothing wrong with looking at the numbers twice when you are trying to stay on a budget. This gives me every opportunity to spot issues.
MINT is good for aggregating transactions from different sources for tracking actual spending against budget and also NET WORTH. That’s what I really like about it. If you are managing your spending using cash (jars or envelopes), I’m not sure that MINT will offer big advantages.
BTW, I’m not plugging MINT, I’m just telling you what works for me. (MINT does have it’s fair share of problems, just FYI).
Anyhoo, this is my daily routine that keeps me sane. What would make you insane if you did not do it regularly?