Making a New Year’s Resolution is really about fessing up to the mistakes you’ve made in the past and making a fresh start in the New Year.
It’s 2013 and it’s time to turn your Money Boo Boos into financial “woo-hoos!” You like that? I didn’t make it up, but you can still give me credit if you want.
Here is my personal Money Boo Boo: I’m not making contributions to my daughter’s 529 Savings Plan.
It’s embarrassing – both personally and professionally. I bragged about setting up her 529 account and I even managed to deposit a hefty chunk of change into it.
But then? I stopped making contributions. Bad personal finance blogger, bad.
So, I decided to take some of my own advice and I turned to Mint.com with one specific financial goal in mind: Setting up regular contributions into my daughter’s 529 account.
I guess this would also be a good time to mention the Mint.com Money Boo Boos sweepstakes that is running for the entire month of January 2013: Set a goal using your free Mint.com account and win a $500 weekly prize.
I repeat: All you have to do is log into Mint, set a goal and you are automatically entered to win. That’s it!
Here’s how you set a goal using your (free!) Mint.com account:
First I logged into Mint.com and added two new financial accounts. The benefit of adding all your financial accounts is that Mint pulls your information from each one and gives you a complete financial picture on one screen.
From car loans, to real estate, to cash hidden under your mattress, all your debts and assets are measured. It is incredibly empowering to see what your net worth is.
Does adding an account sound time consuming? Turns out it is ridiculously easy. Mint suggests major banks, or you can search for yours.
Once you locate your financial institutions, you just share your username and password and Mint does the rest. Mint found both my accounts and pulled all the information in less than 30 seconds!
And, in case you were wondering, Mint uses the same 128-bit encryption and physical security that banks use, which means your personal information is safe and secure.
I added my checking account (which will fund Lucy’s 529 Plan) and the Utah Educational Savings Plan that I established when she was six months old (giving myself a gold star for that one).
We have already saved $6,278 in the account, thanks to a hefty pay raise my husband negotiated.
From the Overview page, I then clicked on the Goals tab.
Using my personal information, Mint made many good suggestions for various financial goals I should consider, including making contributions to the 529 account.
Mint guided me through the process of figuring out how much I need to save for Lucy’s higher education. The site gave me four college options to choose from, which range from Community (the cheapest) to Private (the most expensive).
I customized the Goal by entering her age, her planned date of college entry, named my goal and clicked “Save Goal.”
I was then rewarded with a summary of my goal, complete with a thermometer showing my progress. If there’s anything that motivates me to save, it’s a partially red thermometer.
When I finished setting up my goal, Mint suggested helpful next steps and included links to take action. I checked off the steps I had already finished. How satisfying!
Julia Scott founded the money and coupon blog, BargainBabe.com.