For a number of years, I have built elaborate spreadsheets of budgets to keep myself on track. I put myself through college and through graduate school working a whole host of jobs and with more than a little help from school loans and grants. I grew up in a family with very little money and was always paranoid about not having enough money or about not managing well the little I did have. These spreadsheets helped me stay on track and let me know when I needed to reel in the spending and when I could loosen the reigns a bit.
It is a lot of work to keep track this closely. A number of different sites to check, receipts to track, and accounts to balance. www.Mint.com has made that old news. A new, fun site recently featured in Fast Company, the founders wanted to help encourage young people to be more financial responsible and help all people to simplify the process of budgeting. Best of all it's free. You can record budgets, have bank accounts, investments, and credit cards all tracked on one site. It will give you graphs that make it easy to see just how you're faring in the world of balancing your spending and savings, and offer up specials that can help you take advantage of special bonuses from financial products you may not be aware of.
This is no easy feat. Most people don't like the balancing act of money or the complexity of personal financial management. Mint.com just goes to show you that everything, even the most stressful of tasks, can be infused with a little fun for a whole lot of impact.