When I was 12, I was given my own passbook for my savings account.  I was told to “Save for College” so all my babysitting money and rag money went there.  Rags? Yes, through girl scouts I’d learned about the market for clean rags; some went to the making of rag rugs and some to painters.

I also discovered that what money went  into the account could also come out just by filling out the form differently at the bank. Add to this that I learned how to sneak out of Saturday AM religion class and meet my girl friends at Woolworths for fries and pop after stopping by the bank for funds. Within less than three months, I also learned about bank statements.  Seems these showed up at the family home quarterly and my ill conceived plan was exposed. 

If, I’d known how to track funds back then, I might have made different choices. 

  • What would you do with more money?
  • How would you get there?
  • How do you track your savings, spending and goals for your personal finance?

Now days, we can keep track of our money by the moment with apps and having a goal like going to college, getting a new computer, purchasing a new phone system for the office, emergency fund, all require cash.  Over the years, I’ve learned that tracking cash and spending can become a way to reach goals faster.  Starting with a goal is key.  Just saying, “I want to retire someday” is not likely to get the retirement of your dreams.  “I want to retire in 2025 with One million dollars in savings” makes a great start.  Now, are we on the path?

Let’s stick with the retirement goal, so we need to save and of course still spend, but control it.  Using an app that will allow you to track your accounts is helpful.  If you want to try these, PLEASE make sure your mobile device has a password!  Check these free ones out for personal use:

  • Mint.com.  Mint was the first for personal finance management and it can track multiple checking and credit cards.  It has budget alerts if you over spend, it has a huge user base which means most all banks are listed.  From my research, it is as secure as a financial institution.  Because it is free, occasional pup up ads and in my view it is sometimes cluttered feeling.
  • Personal Capital.  This app is more useful for investments with a great dashboard that does include tracking of spending.  The only downside on this is that it doesn’t have a budget feature.
  • Manilla.  This one is a digital folder system used for sorting and bill reminders.  This may be redundant for people that are already using online bill-pay.

Reaching a goal means making decisions now for the greater good later.  This often feels burdensome while it is happening, but my experience with tracking my own investments is the satisfaction on the road to the goal can be part of the fun.

Back to the 12 year old, Linda.  She needed a goal better than “Save for College” and she needed some money for having fun. All budgets and personal plans need some flexibility and honest review both for the short term and long term feasibility.  If hobbies keep you sane, than that needs to be part of the budget but maybe it is modified to feed the craving yet move forward on the goal. 

How do you track your savings, spending and goals for your personal finance?