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Merry Christmas!

From my family to yours – Merry Christmas, and see you in the New Year!

I will continue to do the best I can and post any interesting deals as I find them.  I will be taking a break like most bloggers and enjoying the holiday season, but when I find interesting tidbits to share I will do the  best I can.

A couple reminders!   This coming weekend will have the P&G insert-December 27 – so don’t forget to get your local paper.

Keep an eye out for some great deals on December 26 for next year’s Christmas season like candles, wrapping paper, cards and ribbon.  Remember to create a budget and stick to it.

That reminds me!   It is time to start thinking about financial goals for 2010.   What are your savings goals for 2010?

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Mint.com – free personal financial tracking!

mintcom

Since it’s the beginning of the year its that time again to start getting taxes ready and organize my financial information. I used to be a big fan of Quicken and Money but both programs have limitations and require a lot of work in my opinion.  I usually would have to spend 1 to 3 hours a month to add all of the account information and figure out my financial situation.  In addition, I prefer not to pay $30 to $60 for software that I didn’t think really helped me much.  So, I did some research a couple weeks ago and I discovered Mint.com.

What is Mint.com?

Mint.com is a personal online financial tracking system for free!  That’s right free!  You create a secure account online and add your login and passwords for your individual accounts – checking, savings, investments etc.   This is similar to what Quicken and Money offer, however, Mint.com automatically categories the transactions.  Then it takes that information and tells you how you are doing financially with simple to understand pie charts, and bar charts.  You get a quick picture of your financial health.

Does Mint.com help you budget?

Yes!  This makes me very excited.  The problem with Quicken and Money is neither software programs could help you “budget” because it was after the fact rather than before the fact.  Mint.com does it differently.  It immediately will check your accounts and tell you via alerts or when you login, if you go over your budget.  You can change your budget very easily too.

Does Mint.com notify you have changes to your accounts?

Yes!  This is the best part in my opinion, because you can setup alerts that can be emailed to you.

How does Mint.com make money?

They have a section on their site that offers you suggestions to save more money by applying for a different checking account or credit card for example.   If you decide to take an offer then they will get referral fee from the company.

How secure is Mint.com?

Mint.com is very secure.  More details about the security is on their site.   I recommend you always use a strong password – at least 8 characters that include numbers and symbols.

Let me know how you budget and what your opinion is of personal software programs.  Do you have a favorite?  Would love to hear your opinions.

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Financial Goals 2009

This evening I’ve been updating my blog.  There is so much to talk about and so little time.  I now realized that it is 11:10PM so I need to finish up and go to bed.  The little one is in bed and I’m sure she will wake up early.  In the mist of updating my blog  I found Money Saving Mommy’s blog on 2009 goals Her blog always inspires me to save even more.  I have to admit I’m not as good a saver as other bloggers have been and it really helps to see others who believe like we do.

In 2008, we had our wonderful daughter and realized that we had to do better about our finances.  We knew we had to start a 529k and we need to save more than we were.  Right before I had our daughter we visited a financial advisor.   I decided I wanted to talk to Ric Edelman‘s Financial group.  I’ve listened to him on the radio for years and I’ve read his books including The Truth About Money.

We met with a very nice advisor who took his time and step-by-step talked us through what we should do.  (This was a recommendation for us only.  This is not a recommendation for everyone.)

We already do the following:

1. Pay off all credit cards each month.  (I personally like to use credit cards because then my husband and I can track our purchases.  It’s harder with cash only.  In addition, I don’t like to use a debt card because in the past we have had someone steal the card number and you can imagine what happened next.  Not fun!  I completely understand the concept of using cash only too.  It just doesn’t work well for us.)

2. Save 20% of income

3. 6+ months of expenses for emergency fund

He recommended the following:

1. Pay off our school loans – Done. Used cash reserves.

2. Pay off our car loan – Done. Used cash reserves.

3. Increase life insurance – Still need to do this.  Got a quote and need to call back to start process.

4. Sell extra stock that we own.  – Still haven’t done this because that was when the market went down so fast. I’m thinking of keeping it.

5. Increase 401k contributions to max out – I’ve done this but my husband is about to do this.

6. Start a 529k for our daughter – I’ve applied for the application packet.  I did some research on each of the programs and we will benefit better by doing it in our state.

7. Get a home equity line of credit – Still looking into this option.

We live in a very expensive area.  I’m so impressed to read about other bloggers that have paid most of their mortgages off.  In the future, that might be something I will add to my list.  If you are familiar with Ric Edelman’s books you will know that he has a different view about paying off mortgages.   He thinks it’s better to keep a large mortgage and have the extra money you would have put towards the mortgage to invest somewhere else.  I can agree to this as long as you can make more than the cost of the mortgage.  Again, everyone’s situation is different.

Off to bed..will update again with 2009 goals.

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Only $800 a year!

Thanks to Thrifty Mama for pointing this blog out! Erin has been working hard to only spend $800 to feed her family of 4. Erin’s blog is famous because its on TV – Channel 13 in Texas. This blog really inspires me to work hard and save even more. In addition, it gets me to really think about the spending process. We treat ourselves to a lot of things such as fast food, eating out, games, gadgets, and household items. What can we do to limit that?

Something I will talk about in another post soon. I want to write about 2009 goals. What are our family goals? What do we want to save up for? We have a rain day fund but with the economy should we be saving more in cash or investing while the market is low?

Check this out! It will inspire you.