That first year after college is pretty scary. Assuming you have a job, you have probably just:
1. Moved out of your house
2. Started your career
3. Started taking responsibility of bills — rent, gas, electricity, water, cable
4. Signed up for a 401K if your work offers
5. Realized how much of your paycheck goes to taxes
6. Realized that, regardless you’re making money now compared to before and you want to spend it wildly!
Now we’ve been out of college for a little more than 6 months and if you have not already, its time to get in control of your finances. There are a few websites and apps out there that will easily help you track your expenses, create budgets and goats, and event set up investment accounts. Thanks to Mint.com I became aware that I was spending far too much at coffee shops. What seemed like $2 here and $3.50 there was really adding up!
So here are my two favorite:
(none of these images are my accounts!)
Mint starts out with a screen like this, giving an overview of your current accounts– banking, credit cards, loans, investments and then showing you the current budgets you have in place.
You can set budgets for anything you want, but the standard ones it sets you up with are Shopping, Entertainment, Groceries, Restaurants, and Gas. I’ve added on Rent, Utilities, Coffee Shops, Lunch etc. You can even set up alerts if you’re approaching your budget max or if you go over. It will also turn this angry red color:
Some of my basic budgets include $30 for Coffee, $150 on Restaurants, $200 on Gasoline, and $200 on shopping.
You can also set a Goal, an amount that you want to have saved by a certain date and it tells you how much you should be saving monthly and takes that out of your budget. My current goal is just to have 5 months rent saved up just in case of emergency, and the standard rule is to have 3 months rent.
Meet mint’s better looking sister, LearnVest. Started by the fabulous Alexa Von Tobel (I follow her on instagram and shes always doing great things, went to Harvard business school, yadda yadda shes pretty great.), it began as an outlet for women to discuss ways of spending and saving, but recently they implemented a Mint like budgeting system complete with your own personal financial adviser for ~$60 a month. Not too Shabby!
Like mint, you create budgets and a break down for each month and how you’re spending your money.
If you’re sporting an iPhone there is also a really wonderful app version available
Alexa and the LearnVest crew believe that you should be living by this breakdown and spend accordingly:
The biggest goal of the site is to get you out of debt and into the spending cycle that you should be. As its focused towards women, it understand that shopping is going to happen, but don’t use more than 30% of your budget on it!
If you sign up for the learnvest twitter or email list you will also get great tips on how to stop spending, sales that are going on, and words of encouragement. If any of you read GooP, Alexa was featured this week and here is how she explained the 20/30/50 rule:
- 50% of your budget should go to your Essentials.
These are the expenses you always have to pay to keep your life going: your rent/mortgage, transportation, groceries and utilities.
- 20% should go to your Priorities.
These are expenses that help you accomplish important financial tasks, such as paying off loans, building savings, saving for retirement and more.
- 30% should go to your Lifestyle.
This is what’s leftover, which is what you get to live on and enjoy now, on expenses such as dining out, shopping and other fun spending
Hopefully you can use one of these tools to take control of your finances and watch your spending! Its as easy as logging in once and day and reminding yourself where you’re at.
Enjoy & Good Luck!