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A Handful of Financial Tools That Get Me Through the Day

Mint.com

I rarely carry a checkbook anymore. What with the smart phone, tablet, and cosmetic purse, something had to go from my purse. I do sometimes stash a check in my wallet for piano teachers and other places that refuse plastic. But that leaves a glaring hole in my accounting. Or it did. Now I pull out my tablet, open Mint, and add a transaction. This lightens my load and is better accounting. Mint watches for the check to clear and categorizes it in the right place for my end-of-year tax accounting. I also check Mint rather obsessively to see where our money is going and to help us stay within our budgets.

Paypal

I pay my kids to do chores. I have read all the financial advice on this and understand all sides of the argument. But it comes down to this: I’m busy. Money talks. If I tell my son, I’ll pay him $20 to clean the house he gets up and does it. My daughter will moan about cleaning up after the dogs in the yard, unless I say, “$10.” Then she moves. So I don’t care if my plan is perfect. I’m not doing all the work. And they have their own money. We all like the arrangement. But I don’t keep a lot of cash on hand – and cash won’t spend online. So I pay them using Paypal. They each have PayPal student accounts and the MasterCard that comes with. So the second the house or yard is clean, I pull out a tablet or phone and send them their money. They can spend online or off. And since it keeps a tally, they are learning a little accounting, too. It’s good to see where your money went. It helps you learn from your mistakes. And they can order their own pizza when they don’t like what I made.

Pageonce.com

I pay all the bills in our family. This is a time consuming job and I get no appreciation for it. (Do you hear violins?) But really, it’s not that bad. I pull out my phone in those little moments in the day – hair dresser, waiting for a kid, water boiling – and check in on my money. Bill due? I pay it right then and there from Pageonce with the press of a button. (For $.30 per transaction.) That’s less than one stamp would cost, as the site says. But I haven’t paid bills with stamps and checks for years. Still if it saves me one late fee (and it has), well worth three dimes.

SaveUp

Have you heard the term casual gaming? It refers to little games we play for just a few minutes a day as a tiny brain rest. It’s good for you. And a much better way to take a break than grabbing a candy bar. Most games reward you with points or badges. But this one rewards you for saving money. You earn points whenever you pay off a bill or put money into savings. And those points earn you the chance to play fun games that hold the promise of great riches. I have played the “Deposit $5k into Savings” prize every day for weeks. I want it. SaveUp.com is like a free lottery that you can only play if you save some money first. Very cool. I have yet to win a million dollars (or even a shopping spree at Target). But I play every day.