New Goals Feature in Mint iOS App

After working as a CFP helping individuals reach their financial goals for over 14 years now, I have come to learn that the more reminders you can have to track your progress toward your goals makes all the difference. Hence this new goal feature in the Mint iOS app, is what I like to call “Lit!�

The reason I find this new goal feature in Mint iOS to be a game changer is that so often people state arbitrary goals like I want to pay off my debt, or save money, but fail to take the next steps of determining how much they need to allocate every month to reach that goal and then track their progress month after month to make the course corrections as needed. 

That is why I am so excited to see Mint take their budgeting app one step further by adding the Goal feature to help users create realistic financial goals and add the goals into their budget. 

Let’s dive into how you can make this new feature work for you and make 2020 the year you reach your financial goals and have fun while doing so.

Step 1:

Set up your budget in the Mint app and connect your accounts so you can track your actual spending against the budget you created for yourself.  Keep the 50/20/30 rule of budget in mind as you do so. This rule of thumb for allocating your net income every month (50 percent for fixed expenses, 20 percent for savings and 30 percent for fun/variable expenses) allows you to use this benchmark as a starting point to see how your budget breaks down. While this is just a starting guide, it does help you sort through your fixed, saving, and variable spending to determine what will work for you. Even if you cannot save the full 20 percent of your net income, you can at least use it as a goal and start by saving even 1 percent toward the goals you will set up for yourself.

Step 2: 

Create your first goal. For example, let’s say your goal is to Take a trip. So you would select that one from the list of goals.

Mint Goals iOS - Choose a goal

If you have a goal that is not listed, like “Start a business,� then you can select “Something else� from the line up and create your goal from there.

 

Step 3:

Next, you want to make your goal personal by naming it something you feel excited about. In this example, we got very specific and called it “Miami Vacation.� I have found that after years of working with people on their financial goals, the more personal they made them and named them in their tracking systems, the more connected they were to the goal and excited to do the work to actually reach it. So name your goal something that lights you up inside!

Mint Goals iOS - Saving Goal

Step 4

 

Next you will enter how much you need to reach your goal and the ideal date you want to reach your goal.  For example, you can write $2,000 for your Miami vacation by August 2021.

 

Step 5

 

Once you do that, you will then select the account you want to save the money into. This is something you can review with your CFP but typically if you are saving for short term goals of five years or less, you would use a high yield savings account. So make sure you have the right account to select for the goal you are saving for linked to your Mint account.

 

Step 6

Once you list your goal and the amount you need to reach your goal, you will then be taken to a page where you can play with the funding levels to determine when you can reach this goal. I personally love this approach of starting with the funding level, because it feels more realistic based on how much you can save every month (Step 1) from your budget.

For example, if you decide you can save $105 per month toward this goal, then you will be able to take your vacation by August 2021. But maybe you want to go sooner, so then you can see if you adjust it to save $125 per month, you will be able to take a vacation in April 2021. With this tool, you can decide how aggressive you want to save for this trip (goal) and what you are willing or not willing to do to make it happen.

I think this puts you back in the driver’s seat of your money and can motivate you to either make more money or cut back spending in other areas so you can save the amount needed to reach your goal in the timeframe that is most ideal for you. 

Mint Goals iOS - Set a goal

Step 7

 

The next step is to select the amount you can save for your goal. 

Mint Goals iOS - Congratulations on setting your goal

Step 8

 

Now that your goal is selected, you will be able to track your progress toward that goal on the homepage. I LOVE this feature because it reminds you on the daily (or whenever you log into your Mint account) where you stand in relation to your goal. I think tracking your progress toward the goal is the difference between actually reaching the goal or letting another year go by without anything changing in your financial life. You can also use this as a way to motivate you to save more toward your goal by cutting back on other spending or finding new ways to make more money. 

 

Step 9

 

Keep going! The app will also show charts on how much you have saved or increases/decreases in your savings so use this as a way to keep doing what you need to reach your goals. If you notice your savings amount decreased, ask yourself why. Did you stop your savings plan? Or decrease the amount due to cash flow issues? By reviewing often and using the tools in the app, you can really change your behaviors with money to work for you not against you.

 

By leveraging technology like the new goal feature in Mint iOS, you save your energy that would otherwise be wasted trying to figure it out every month. And then you can use that new energy toward making more money or enjoying your life and appreciating all you are able to do with your money. And that is what I call living a financially wise life.

 

What are your financial goals this year? Share your goals with us in the comments!

The post New Goals Feature in Mint iOS App appeared first on MintLife Blog.

The On-Demand Services Spending Trap

In our day and age, on-demand services are a modern convenience that are hard to avoid. For many of us, getting food delivered to our doorsteps, or taking a rideshare home from the local dive is just part of our daily routine.

Per the Harvard Business Review, the on-demand economy is a $57.6 billion dollar industry, and more than 22.4 million people use its services. It’s no doubt convenient and even fun, but if you’re not careful, partaking in on-demand services can lead to overspending.

You might be prone to doling out extra cash just to hit a minimum delivery total on food, or getting lazy and ordering a rideshare instead of hopping on the train. If you find yourself mired in a spending trap when it comes to on-demand services, here’s what you can do to scale back:

Pick Your Poison

Instead of going hog-wild with routine grocery deliveries, a weekly house-cleaning service, and ride-sharing all weekend long, indulge in just one type of on-demand service. That way you aren’t spending on a bunch of things. Think of what would add the most value in your life, or what you would enjoy the most.

Case in point: Call me weird, but I personally never got into having food delivered. There’s something a bit odd about having a perfect stranger come to your home and drop off a pizza. I work out of my home most of the time and welcome breaks outside of the house. However, I will indulge in taking a rideshare instead of driving or taking public transit —especially since I live in Los Angeles, where traffic on a busy Saturday evening can be a nightmare.

Make the Most of Referral Codes

My friend Greg is a master at hustling referral codes. Over the years he’s earned hundreds of dollars in credit for everything from food delivery to ride share services —all by offering a referral code. So what’s his secret?

First, as a barber who owns his own shop in Chicago, instead of asking for tips he asks his customers  if they might be interested in taking him up on one of his referral codes. According to Greg, there are two camps of people when it comes to these offers: Those who get turned off if you let them know that you’ll benefit by extending a referral code, and those who are actually more inclined to help you if they know that you’ll rake in some credit, too.

If you know your “audience,� you’ll be able to position the ask so they’re more inclined to accept the deal. For instance, strangers and acquaintances might be more likely to take you up on your offer if you don’t mention you’ll also benefit from the referral. And friends and family land typically in the second camp. Figuring out the best way to frame the ask could net you more referrals.

Know When It Can Help You Save

This might seem counterintuitive, but there are a number of situations where spending on modern-day conveniences can actually help you save. For instance, it might be more cost-effective to spend a little more on home grocery delivery if it saves you time on errands. And if you’re spending more time earning those dollars, it could be well worth your while.

Or let’s say you’re sick or disabled and have mobility issues. For instance, my friend, who is in her mid-80s, has ailing health. She became ill about a year ago. Since then, she has most of her groceries delivered to her home, and buys most of her clothes, household items, and gifts online. Not only is it far easier for her to order things online than to step into a brick and mortar store, but she saves money by not needing to hire a helper to accompany her on her shopping trips.

Monitor Your Spending

When it comes to scaling back, it’s helpful to see how much you’re actually spending and when. Some money management apps allow you to track your spending with a specific service. If not, you can see how much you’re spending by category.

You can also look at bank or credit card statements to see exactly how much you’re spending on each service you use. If you’re exceeding what you can comfortably spend in a given month, you might want to consider scaling back or tweaking your spending plan.

Tally Your Total Before Checkout

Take advantage of the fact that you can always check your total before checkout. Unlike shopping in a store, where you often have to estimate roughly how much you’ll be spending, when you buy something online, you can easily see how much your total will be before you proceed with the purchase.

I know this might come off as super nerdy, but when I’m at a physical store, I’ll go through my basket of items and remove stuff I realize I don’t really want, won’t use, or can’t afford. Similarly, before I make an online purchase, I’ll go through the items in my shopping cart to see how much I’m spending —and remove things I can do without.

Make Trade-Offs

As far as budgets go, you don’t need to necessarily create a spending category specifically for, say, rideshares. But see how much more you might spend on taking ride shares over the weekend versus driving or taking the train or bus. And if it’s worth it to you, see if you can cut back in another area. For instance, while I do tend to rideshare to concerts, meetups with friends, and the like, I also eat in more often than not. In turn, I’ll save on grocery costs.

As long as you’re paying off your debt, and ideally setting some money aside for your emergency fund and other savings goals, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you spend $200 on transportation or $300. It’s all coming from the same pot of money, anyway.

While it’s quite easy to fall prey to the on-demand services spending trap, you can avoid spending too much by tracking your spending, making adjustments as necessary, tapping into referral codes, and spending a bit of time assessing whether it’s worth doling out extra cash for the convenience.

Which on-demand services can you afford to cut back on? Let us know in the comments!

The post The On-Demand Services Spending Trap appeared first on MintLife Blog.