Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Fiddling with financial websites April 28, 2009

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 10:33 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I was talking on the phone the other day with my mom, and she mentioned that she heard them talking about Mint on NPR that morning.  There’s a link from that piece to a post noting many different money management websites.  My mom joked, “I wonder if they visited your blog when doing research for the piece!”  My mom’s awesome.

Anyway, I’ve mentioned before that I use a bunch of different ways of tracking my money (and lack thereof!)  Recently, I’ve noticed that my ING Direct accounts are not updating properly in Mint.  This is in addition to the past 7 months of my ING accounts not getting updated on Bank of America‘s My Portfolio.  I started complaining into the abyss on twitter, and then figured I’d complain @INGDirect.  They told me to email them, so I sent them my complaint.  Here’s their response:

Hello Stephanie,

I understand that you recently had an issue trying to connect to our website using and bank of America’s portfolio service. This service is commonly referred to as an account aggregator.  While this service may have worked in the past, most users are finding that their aggregator does not work with our New Sign In Process.

The security of your information is very important to us.  Once your personal information leaves ING DIRECT, we have no control over your information or how it is used by third parties.  Because we have no way of monitoring how account aggregators address security, privacy or the use of cookies we are unable to support the use of these services.

To best protect your personal information and your funds, we recommend that you do not share your personal information (including your Customer Number and PIN) with any third party.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

Thank you!

Member FDIC
Equal Housing Lender

So, from the looks of it, there isn’t anything I can do.  I’ve tried re-entering all my passwords, but to no avail.  The odd part is that my boyfriend isn’t having any problems with the data import.  I just want to fix it!

Are you having trouble with any of your financial aggregators?


Slacking on tracking April 5, 2009

Filed under: Fitness,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 6:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

One of the best ways to get a real idea of where your money is going is to track every expense.  Most financial gurus (and personal finance bloggers) will tell you that.  And that’s what I’ve been doing since August of 2007.  Or at least, I’ve been trying to track everything since then.  I’ve mentioned before that I have quite a few ways I keep track of my money.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been slacking off when it comes to keeping track of the things that I usually track.  With walletproof, I’ve only been actively adding my dining out expenses (including my lunch spending in the cafeteria).  There are repeated expenses and income that I’ve allowed to continue on the site, but I haven’t readjusted them to coincide with the correct days.  And I mentioned before that I started using a program called NutriSum, where you track your weight, eating habits, and exercise.  At the beginning, I was logging my progress every day.  Now I log the information when I remember to, and sometimes go back days to fill in the missing numbers.

So what does this mean?  I think for me, tracking everything gave me a sense of control; I knew where everything went, and I could watch as I reached my budgeted limit for the different spending categories.  But now that I have an idea of where things are going (especially with the help of my other tracking websites like Mint), and can set my limits there.  I think I have only been tracking dining expenses because I use credit cards or online bill pay for most purchases, which makes everything easy to track online.  The only thing I spend cash on (usually) is food at the cafeteria.  Going to those websites every once in a while to confirm that I am staying within my limits (and as a bonus, I can monitor any suspicious activity with any of my accounts) seems to get the job done.

I never have been a big spender.  I do occasionally have a spendy month when I buy something that’s long-term (updated wardrobe, new glasses, computer, car) or for birthdays and Christmas (I like buying things for my family).  But those occasional purchases are budgeted in, and wont happen too often.

As for the health tracking, I think that it got me started on healthier habits, and made me aware of what I should be doing.  I’ve now started eating breakfast every day (mmmm oatmeal!), been drinking more water, and avoiding snacks after dinner.  I’m not as good with the whole grains and fruits/veggies goal, but I do remain aware of what I’m putting on my plate, both as I go through the grocery store, and when I pick my meals at the cafeteria.  And I’ve been trying to stick to my exercise regimen (2-3 times per week to start), though I sometimes do 2 instead of 3 days.  But I know what I need to do, and can remind myself that I am working towards a healthier life.

Do you track every penny?  Should I be?


Giving Mint a try September 29, 2008

So all those people in the personal finance blogosphere have been talking about Mint for a while.  I figured I already was using enough different ways to track my money:  I use walletproof to track my expenses pretty closely, and watch My Portfolio from Bank of America, and follow my networth on NetworthIQ.  I’ve tracked my 401(k) and other retirement accounts on Google Finance.  So, you could say I enjoy tracking my money.  I think I like it in part to see what sort of progress I’m making towards paying off debts and growing my net worth.  I also find that tracking my expenses keeps me on top of my spending.  And I think I’ve found that I use different sites since none of them quite fit all my needs.  I like walletproof because it’s simple and helps me to monitor my spending; manual data entry makes me aware of what I’m spending, but I might still forget to enter some of my expenses.  My Portfolio tracks rather nicely most of my assets and liabilities, but sometimes it’s hard to categorize every transaction.  NetworthIQ requires manual data entry, but I do that once a month.  This means I’ve got a static number that can be compared each month, as opposed to the dynamic values found in the automatically updated amounts in My Portfolio.

I had actually created an account with Mint in November of 2007, but I got nervous about security, so I didn’t enter any of my account information into the site.  Then, a few weeks ago, I figured I should go ahead and give it a try.  Actually, just today, I came across a post helping to debunk some Mint myths.

The one weird part I’ve noticed is that it only imported some of my recent account transactions, but also imported a few that are a lot older.  I’m also looking forward to when they have a more in-depth analysis of investments and retirement portfolios.  And I’ve also found some of the categories to be odd or missing, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to add extra categories.  For example, I want to label my T-pass purchases as Transportation, but the closest I can label it is Travel.  It’s not a really big deal, but I’d like to have more accurate descriptions of my transactions.  I do like the analysis features, as well as the automatic data retrieval.  I do find it odd that, when you are able to compare your expenses to big cities, Boston isn’t listed.  But that’s a minor issue.  At any rate, I think I’ll add it to my list of financial tools.

One thing that I think comes up a lot with these sites, besides security concerns, is the inability to import some of your accounts.  Of my friends that use Mint or My Portfolio, a few (including a blogger or two) aren’t able to add accounts/debts from smaller organizations.  I’m sure that both companies are working on including more, but in the meantime, you’ll have to enter the numbers manually every month for My Portfolio (and I’m not sure if there’s an option like that for Mint).

On a related note, has anyone else had issues with My Portfolio, specifically with updating imported ING accounts?  I’ve found that it wants me to re-enter my login information, but when I do, it still doesn’t work.

How do you keep track of your money (or lack thereof)?  I know Penny was asking the same thing a while back (and heard from quite a few people!)  But I’m curious as well!  And I’d love to hear if anyone has that My Portfolio/ING thing figured out.


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