Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

What a Mint!

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Total Black: $2,352.41
Total Red: $269,991.43

Last Sunday, while bored at home waiting to leave to meet some guy for one of those quasi-dates—those “let’s grab a drink” things.  Never materialized.  It was raining too much.  The place we were going to meet at was closed on Sundays.  He’s local so I suspect he may have gotten cold feet.  But I digress.  Anyway, while waiting at home to leave, I started browsing the App Store on iTunes on my iPhone.  Time-killer, right?  Well, I came across one app, Seize the Day, that looked interesting.  Downloaded it.  It’s an app to keeps track of tasks and alerts you to outstanding To-Do list items.  Do we need it?  No.  We can just take a pad of paper and create our own To-Do list.  The iPhone has a Notes section too.  But I thought, why not!  Anything to help organization in this cluttered, electronic world.  But it was the app for the personal finance website Mint.com that really intrigued me. 

Not until this morning did I actually begin to set up the account.  And the first aspect that hooked me is that I could sync the Bank of St. Croix account.  I’ve stated quite a few times that the primary reason I was reluctant to leave Bank of America was because of its My Portfolio software feature.  Input usernames and passwords for various websites the Bank has already added to its array of banks, lenders, credit cards, and so on, and then the software syncs all those accounts in real-time, delivering up-to-date information.  I check it every day.  It’s also where I get the numbers for Total Black and Total Red.  Otherwise, everyday I’d have to log into each credit card’s website (six total), each student loan’s website (three total), each bank account’s website (two total; four accounts), and so on—all just to get current numbers to total up.  But now?

But now I am freed!  I wasn’t aware of any other software program out there that syncs all of your accounts in one place.  Maybe Quicken, but I tried that software years ago and found it very inexact and too cumbersome.  I’m sure it’s improved in the six years since I used it.  I recall now that back in law school when I activating it with Bank of America, I ended up paying a monthly fee to Bank of America for quite a few months to grant Quicken access my account information—something invariably buried in the fine print on some pop-up box you click on just to install software or scripts.  Any which way they can getcha, right?

At any rate, when I first started this blog, Bank of America offered its My Portfolio feature.  I didn’t need anything else.  It had all the functionality I needed.  It still does, I suppose.  But it’s pretty much all that has kept me with Bank of America.  Well, that and the fact that of the large, national banks it’s one of the few that has at least started to scale back some of its insane, money-grabbing, here-a-fee-there-a-fee-everywhere-a-fee-fee policies.  It’s pretty much a frying pan and fire out there when it comes to different banks.  But now that I’ve come across Mint.com and discovered that I can pay most bills through Bank of St. Croix’s online bill pay feature.  Well . . . my days at Bank of America may soon be over. 

Three cards are all that keep me with Bank of America.  One credit card—an MBNA account formerly through PNC Bank that Bank of America took over when it acquired all MBNA credit cards—that one card is the canceled card and is down to $2,900.00.  The only way that account could creep back up is through monthly finance charges and fees.  Nothing to sneeze at but at least it I can’t charge it back up myself.  The other two cards with Bank of America will take a while to bring down, but now that I’m settled in a steady job and receiving steady paychecks—my first, of which, will arrive this Thursday—I can start budgeting properly and allocating extra every month to those cards.

And that’s one feature I really like about this app: the budget function.  Quicken used to prepare pie-charts to show you visually where your money went each month.  But it seemed like I had to readjust every purchase because the software allocated it incorrectly.  Interesting aside: with starts and stops—typical of ADHD and the craziness of my life over this past decade—from 2000-2001 I was in Poland, 2001-2002 in Germany, 2002-2006 in Washington, D.C., 2006-2010 in New York, and now 2010-present in St. Croix—can I just stay put for awhile?  At any rate, with starts and stops—typical of ADHD and the craziness of my life, remembering my efforts at Quicken reminds me that I have been trying to get my finances under control . . . or at least get myself aware of them.  Back then, however, I wasn’t concerned so much with bringing my debts down as I was with the coolness of the new technology.  I was a second-year or third-year law student, facing years of steady employment and six-figure salaries. Right?  Those mice and men again.

I’m late for work as I type this.  I awoke around 5:30am this morning.  Lord & Lady have this crazy cat.  It’s gotta be part feral already because it lives outdoors most of the time.  Well, then again . . . we sort of do too.  That make me feral?  Roar.  But I digress.  Crazy Cat does not like my cats on her turf.  I can’t count the number of nights I’ve been startled out of bed—in a scream—because of a guttural growl right outside my screen door.  Doesn’t take much to get through screen material.  And it’s always Lord’s Crazy Cat.  One night the damn thing leaped up onto the slanted, shutter-like window panes and clung to them, just to get a view in of my cats and growl at them.  That freaked me out for certain because I heard the cat but couldn’t see where it was.  Sometimes I’ll look up from my computer and see it just sitting there, quietly, staring in at me.  Full of spitfire and Satan’s fury!  A glass of water thrown in its face seems to do the trick most times.  But when it’s at night, I’m left awake.  And when it happens in the early in the morning, its hard to go back to sleep when you have to re-awake in thirty minutes.

At least this morning I put that time to good use.  Glad I found this app.  I’ll be set up on a budget for sure.  Perhaps just in time for that one-year anniversary!

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