One of the crappiest things about being a grownup is managing your own money. This thought came to me yesterday, when a group of teenage girls taking pictures of each other with a giant digital camera and wearing tiny belly shirts that probably cost more than my whole outfit came into Starbucks yesterday and slurped down their giant FrapaWhatevers while I tried to surreptitiously eat the avocado sandwich I’d snuck in for lunch. I, unlike this giggling gaggle of barely teen-aged girls, cannot afford Starbucks food. I’m just here for the free wifi.
Budgeting is depressing. Budgeting is hard. Budgeting sucks and that’s why so many of us fail at it.
But that was yesterday. Today I sent an email for an invite into the private beta of a new site called RedMica. Their online money management tools help make budgeting easy and clear, (and they don’t require you to do any math).
No math, you say? I’m sold.
Step 1: Set goals
We’ve all gone through the whole process of writing out exactly how much we’re going to spend on each aspect of our lives FOR THE REST OF TIME. Problem is, the rest of time usually ends up being the next week or so and then we slowly fall back into bad habits. This is why it’s so hard to stay on track: it’s really just you and your willpower.
RedMica helps you figure out how much you want to spend on each area of your life and then keeps track of how much you’re actually spending. This allows you to see when you’re going over and whether or not you really do need to cut back on your drinking.
You can organize your spending by what, where, and from which bank account or credit card and it’s all easily searchable. No more scraps of paper floating around your bag, getting covered in whatever that drink was you spilled last week.
Step 2: Keep track
One of the most awesome parts of RedMica is that it’s accessible on your phone. You can check your spending and bank account balances while you’re in the store, trying to decide if that new shirt is really worth it. When the site tells you that shirt is the equivalent of a week’s worth of your budget for lunch, you might just rethink and set it back on the shelf.
If you’ve already fallen off the budgeting wagon and need to get back on track, RedMica helps you figure out your priorities. Can’t make your cable bill and your college loan this month? Might be time to give up your favorite TV shows…
Step 3: Bring in the family
For those of you with a spouse or kids, RedMica has a feature that allows you to set saving goals with other family members. Say you’re really gunning for a new car but you and your husband just can’t seem to scrape the cash together. Set the goal on your account and watch each other’s progress.
I think this aspect is brilliant. Rather than relying on your own willpower (which, we all know, is completely unreliable), RedMica allows you to utilize the oldest motivator in the world: peer pressure. If your husband is majorly out-saving you, you’re definitely going to step up your game.
Step 4: Planning for the future
We all have dreams of owning a car or a house “someday,” right? Well, sometimes someday comes sooner than you expect and you’ve got to be prepared.
Say you want to buy a house in the near future but you know basically nothing about the process. With RedMica, you can take a look at an itemized checklist of costs you might not have considered, compare your current costs of living to what you’ll be paying if you own your own place, and factor in how changes in your income or rising prices may effect your payments.
They also spell out the types of loans you’ll want to look into and give you a checklist of things you might want to do before buying a house. It’s basically like having the most knowledgeable older sibling, except the site has way more time and patience to deal with your questions.
So, yeah, having to manage your own money is a sucky part of being a grownup, but RedMica is poised to make it that much easier. Maybe I’ll recommend it to the belly shirt girl gang the next time they come in. They might think I’m crazy but I’ll have the last laugh knowing that, someday, they’ll be grownups too.