budgeting

How to Conduct a 5 Minute Money Date

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It’s Money Date Monday!

What the heck is a money date Monday? It’s the day/time you check in with your money, duh! ;) Kind of like those fun things you do with your friends or partner, but this time it involves #adulting.

Looking at your money does not have to be stressful or complicated. In fact, the more you do it, the easier it gets and less scary it seems!

Why review your money?

Easy. Because when you know what you’re spending money on throughout the month you are more likely to stick to your financial goals. If you have no idea where your money is going, it’s going to be really hard to pay off debt or increase your savings.

Why does it need to be a money “date”?

Money dates are important because if you don’t have a time scheduled to review your finances, it’s pretty likely something else will come up. If you have kids or a busy work life, you know that if you don’t schedule something, it doesn’t get done! Am I right?!

I like to use Mondays to review our family’s finances and am going to break the process down. It’s so easy in fact that you can do it within 5 minutes too! (and no, it doesn’t have to be a Monday but I just like the ring of it ha!)

Here goes!!!

How to Conduct a 5 Minute Money Date

1) Step one: login to Mint (or whatever financial tracking app you use)

Now if you manually enter all your numbers into a spreadsheet or even use pen and paper, then get out whatever system it is that you use. I love Mint personally because it automatically pulls from all our bank/credit card accounts and categorizes them, so I just have to log in to make sure the categorizations are correct and change the ones that are not.

2) Step two: review your balances

I like to start my money date by taking a peek at what our account balances are on all checking, savings, and credit card accounts. This gives me a good overview of what we have going on in our accounts and if something looks off from this macro standpoint I can investigate from there.

3) Step three: review your transactions

I look through each transaction that occurred over the course of the past week to make sure that a) they are categorized correctly and b) there aren’t any strange transactions that I can’t place on there. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve caught fraud on our account when conducing our money date! And then the transactions that are not categorized correctly I just quickly change.

4) Step four: check out your budget progress

This is one of the main reasons why I love Mint so much: they have the progress bars for each budget category that you have set. So when I look at these I can see how much we’ve spent for each category and how close we are to tapping out that month’s budgeted amount.

Now the point of budgeting is not to be super strict and obsess over every little dollar (well not in my world at least!). The point is to have an idea of what you’re spending your money on and use that knowledge to influence future decisions. For example, if I see we are getting close to tapping out our dining out budget but it’s only 3/4 through the month, I know we need to reign it in for the last portion of the month. Or if we haven’t spent much on other budgeted areas I will take that into account and assign those dollars to the category we are close to tapping out on.

5) Step five: pay off any revolving debt balances

So this is definitely an optional step depending on how you use credit (if you use it at all!) If you’ve read my travel hacking article (which you can check out HERE) I go into detail on how my hubby and I use credit cards to fund our love for travel. Now this method won’t work for everyone (especially if you have trouble overspending and are not able to pay off your balances in full every month!) but is super handy for those who want to rack up some rewards for the money they are going to spend anyway.

You can now set your credit cards to automatically pay in full before interest hits, however, I still like to pay ours down manually. This helps me feel more in control and assured that they are paid off and we will not be stuck with any interest. I typically complete step 5 every other week to align with my hubby’s paychecks. Again, this step is optional but I wanted to include it for those who use credit and like the idea of paying them off manually.

Alright - that’s it! That is how to conduct a 5 minute money date.

If you have questions on this method, feel free to leave a comment or email me at info@katieoelker.com. I’m happy to help in any way that I can.

What about you? Do you have a money date? How does yours work? Leave a comment below and let me know. I love hearing from you!

Until next time…

cheers to your abundance!

Katie O.