Last week I was honored to have an interview I did with published on their website. One of the things Mint tries to do is help people manage their money, and I’m all for any system that can help people do that.

Stranger 67/100 | Levensky Smith
Michael Tapp via Compfight

Many of the articles on this blog have addressed one of two things; budgeting and saving money. To me, these are the most important things that everyone should know something about. It’s great to make money, but a lot of people have made money and lost it by spending unwisely. It’s also smart to invest in one’s future, but if you don’t take care of your present then none of it matters.

The truth is that I am not a rich person. My wife and I are middle class just like the majority of people in the United States. And I have had periods where I have had less money than I needed to easily get by. I think that happens with almost everybody when job situations are concerned because we’re not always in control of our professional lives. Even now as an independent consultant there are good times and there are times where rings are a bit strained.

However, the one thing that has always served me well is mightily to budget. The first time I lost my job I was in my early 30s and pretty much buying anything I wanted to buy. When I lost my job I was worried about paying my bills since I now didn’t have any income. The one thing I did already have was a budget that I follow, and I knew that during the time when I was collecting unemployment I would still be able to pay all of my bills, although sometimes I had to move some money around. It was a time where I couldn’t buy very many new things, and I couldn’t go out to dinner like I used to, but at least I could pay all my bills.

The reason I give tips like I did in my post about avoiding payday lenders is because I know a lot of people who don’t think ahead about the possibility of suddenly being jobless, or who spend more money than they make in instead of addressing the issue panic and do something illogical. You look at a season like Christmas, where people are spending all kinds of money and using credit cards that will leave them with extreme balances come January, and know that if they had planned and budgeted their money better that they would end up with less stressed during the holiday season.

It’s always important to set good financial goals on both a monthly and yearly basis. Nothing says that you have to exclude the opportunity to have fun and to enjoy recreation and entertainment, but it all flows so much better when you know that you can spend that money and not hurt yourself.

If you want to start with some basic budgeting ideas, check out this post that I wrote in 2009 on the subject. it doesn’t take much to start a budget, and at the very least you should know how much money you have to spend each month and how much money must be spent on specific bills each month. After that, it’s up to you to decide how to proceed.

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