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Personal Finance Interview with Natali Del Conte of TeXtra

Mint’s Note: TeXtra is a technology news show with a lot eXtra! It is technology meets culture, analysis, and humor! Host Natali Del Conte follows the what’s what, who’s who, and WHY of technology news that goes beyond the Silicon Valley. She is an established technology journalist, having written for PC Magazine , TechCrunch, MarketWatch, and more.

Name: Natali Del Conte

Age: 28

Profession: Journalist

Websites: TeXtra @ Podshow.com; Natali Del Conte @ Podshow.com

Current Financial Strategy:

I have a pretty low-tech way of managing my finances. I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use to balance my checkbook every month. I’ve tried Quicken and other financial tools but I like my old way that I’ve been using since I was 18 years old. I balance my checkbook to the penny – yes I am anal – and then lay out a budget for the rest of the month, depending on what I’m saving for and what I have planned for the month. All of this comes after my contributions to my savings accounts and Roth 401K. This monthly session lets me know how much I’ve saved, how much I need for bills, mortgage, etc., and how much elbow room I have to spend with.

Best Financial Tip:

My mom read a book called “The Richest Man In Babylon” when I was a child and she told me that I should always save at least 10 percent of every paycheck. So I always have. I’m a pretty strong saver. Unfortunately, I’m a strong spender too but even if I go through my spending money for the month, I stay away from that 10 percent until it’s time to buy houses or cars or things like that.

Worst Financial Move Ever:

Leasing a car. What a waste of money for a car that I can’t even drive at my leisure! I’ll never do that again!

Financially, I need help with:

Investing my money. I have a financial adviser but I don’t always understand where he’s put my money and whether it is growing or not.

What personal finance tools do you currently use to track and
manage your money?

My own homemade Excel spreadsheets, which are password protected! It’s so antiquated compared to what is available online now but I still like it.

What are the problems in your personal finance tools?

Its low-tech. I wish there was a better way that I could get real-time information from my bank’s Web sites and integrate it into my system. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard but if it isn’t broken…

How would your ideal personal finance tool work?

It would be a bit more portable. I know that mobile browsing will get better though so I can be patient for that.

What more do you want to know about your personal finances?

I wish my investment firm had clearer statements that gave more forecasts for the future. They don’t really do that.

How much do you think you currently spend on eating out?

Not very much. I usually prefer to cook. It relaxes me. If I had to guess, I would say I spend less than $40 per week eating out.

How often do you want to know about your personal finances?

I will check my bank information every few days but then I do the full checkbook balance and strategizing session once a month. I love that night of the month actually. I plop down on the couch with my statements, checkbook, laptop, and a glass of wine. It’s not always good news but its good alone time for me. Plus, it is so satisfying to have it done and know that you’re in control of your finances.

What is in my wallet?

Two Visas that I try not to touch, an ATM card, a Victoria’s Secret credit card, grocery store club cards, Starbucks cards, and my MAC discount card. Oh sometimes cash, but I usually don’t carry that much. My sister is always lecturing me about that.