Starting a new routine in any area of life can be challenging. Be it changes to your finances, exercise habits, health or any other type of new routine, one of the best ways that you can increase your chances of success is to make it part of your existing daily routine. Making small changes to something you’re already doing drastically increases your chances to stick with any new habit. Here, we’ll take a look at some ways that you can incorporate finances into your daily routine.
Setting yourself up for success
If you are planning or have already set a goal or resolution to improve your finances, Mint can help. Mint makes keeping track of your finances feel less like torture and more like a natural part of your day. Instead of feeling like it’s just “one more thing” that you have to do each day, you can handle your finances in the background of many moments. This makes it much more likely that you will continue on the right path.
Constantly making progress
The hardest thing about making progress is constantly making progress. It’s really difficult to stay in the same place. So if you’re not always moving forward, you may find yourself moving backwards. All you have to do is keep up the pace — and fortunately, Mint makes that easy to do.
One thing that you have to watch out for is making one mistake and then completely giving up on your new financial goal. It’s unrealistic to think that you will never slip up even once — so if you set the mentality of perfect or nothing, you’re more likely than not to end up with nothing. Instead, remember that the road to financial health is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re over budget one month, don’t give up — instead review what went wrong and strive to improve next month.
Keep track of your spending
Probably the most important thing that you can do to set yourself up for good financial health is to keep track of your spending. This means not only your big ticket items like rent, mortgage, utilities and other loan payments, but keeping track of EVERYTHING. There are many different ways to keep track of your spending, and each of us may prefer a different way. The important thing is to find the way that works best for you and stick with it.
You can go as low-tech as a paper spending journal where you write down each expense and then categorize it into a budget. If you prefer something more advanced and automated, Mint may be a great option. When you connect your bank accounts and credit cards to Mint, it will automatically track your purchases and categorize them for you based on the merchant. You can also set up a weekly or monthly budget and get alerts when your spending approaches or goes over your budget.
Using Mint to keep track of your spending
A good way to use Mint to incorporate your finances into your daily routine is to set up a reminder to review Mint regularly. Once or twice a week is probably a good cadence for many people, but if it’s easier, you can also just review it daily. Find something you do regularly and make checking your Mint account a part of that. This could be during your lunch break, your morning coffee or anything else that you are already regularly doing.
When you review your Mint account, there’s a few things that you’ll want to be on the lookout for:
- Look for any fraudulent or unauthorized charges — if there’s a charge you don’t recognize, you’ll want to investigate where it came from
- Check for any mis-categorized purchases — Mint uses the merchant where you make a purchase to assign it to a budget category. Check and make sure all of your purchases are being assigned correctly
- Review your budget — Take a look at your budget and see how your spending so far is lining up. Make any adjustments that make sense.
The Bottom Line
Making any changes to your life requires mental and physical adjustments. Changing your finances is no exception, and the best way to make a change is to incorporate checking on your finances into something you’re already doing as part of your daily routine. Mint can be a great tool to help you keep track of your finances and stick to your budget. And remember, no matter where your day takes you, it’s always time to Mint.
Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families to travel for free / cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 kids.