The best intentions can't help unless you follow through.
Web-based budget software can do a lot of things, but you are ultimately in charge of how effectively it works. With so many options, it only makes sense to take advantage of as many features as you can. That's the only way to get the greatest benefit.
If you aren't using your budget software it to its fullest, chances are you're missing out on ways to save, improve, and set goals for the future.
Here are 4 common budget software mistakes and ways to avoid them:
Half a Budget Doesn't Do You Any Favors
Budget software lets you add every account you've got, from checking and savings to bills and investments. If it adds or subtracts money, it belongs in the budget; if it belongs in the budget, it belongs in your budgeting software.
Entering only some of your accounts is counterproductive. You won't see all trends, and you might miss opportunities to save. Setting up a budget takes a bit of time on the front end, but the time and money it saves later is well worth it.
Technology is Your Friend
Budget software such as Mint.com is safe. So safe, in fact, that it comes recommended by top financial expert sources such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. If you're concerned about the safety of your information, consider the bank-level security that Mint.com offers, and know that your money can't be moved or used via this software, even if you lose your phone or computer.
If setting up budget software seems intimidating, you're also in for a pleasant surprise. Not only does Mint.com make adding accounts easy, but it automatically updates all of your information when deposits are made and bills are paid.
Alerts are Designed to Help
Alerts let you know when something important happens, and you choose which alerts you want. If there's suspicious activity with one of your credit cards, a text or email gives you a heads up long before the next statement is issued. When a bill is due, if your spending gets too high, or when a better interest rate is available elsewhere, alerts keep you in the loop.
Because you set up alerts as you see fit, ignoring them doesn't do you any favors. Take advantage of this handy feature, and you'll be in better charge of your finances, day or night.
Cash purchases add up fast, so don't forget to track them.
Cash is Part of your Budget
If you set aside cash for daily spending, don't forget to keep track of it. Budget software automatically updates when you spend using a credit or debit card, but Mint.com mobile apps let you enter cash purchases, too. Forgetting to enter cash you've spent can throw your budget out of whack, since you won't have a clear picture of when spending gets too high.
Cash is usually considered part of discretionary spending. This category has a great deal of freedom since discretionary, by definition, means it's not mandatory. When you enter cash purchases into the appropriate categories, you might find opportunities to cut back and save.
Budget software is only as good as how you use it. If you're holding back, now is the time to dig in and learn how Mint.com's products can empower you.
If you haven't taken the plunge yet, sign up for a free account today and learn about the many ways Mint.com can simplify your life.