New Tools and April Update

Another month has come and gone, and the time continues to fly.  After last month´s update, I told you guys I wanted to try some new tracking tools.

This month I tried SmartyPig, based on Cat´s recommendations; Debt Payoff Planner, based on Kirsten´s recommendation; and YNAB, based on everyone´s recommendations.

Spoiler: 2 out of 3 worked for me.  Hold on to your hats, folks!



SmartyPig is a savings account service that lets you set up various goals, fund them automatically or manually, and has cute graphics, too!  Creating an account was easy.  I set one up for my husband´s fast approaching Fall tuition payment and transferred the savings I already had to get me started.  It took a couple of days to get the source account verified and the funds moved, but now it´s good to go.

I do like the graphic.  I also like that the funds are separate from my checking, which definitely reduces the temptation of “borrowing” from my savings and then never paying it back.  However, the service is more basic than I was expecting.  I was at least expecting it to tell me more about reaching my goal.  For example: to reach this goal by whatever date, I need to deposit $XX.  All it shows you is what you have so far.





This is an app for mobile devices, available on Android and iOS.  You input your outstanding debts, the APR, and your minimum monthly payments.  It does the rest of the work.  It gives you a quick overview of where you stand, and is super easy to modify.

It allows you to modify your “strategy.”  You can only pay the minimums, or tell it how much extra you have each month to put toward debt.  Next, you choose if you want your debt payoff to be APR high to low (avalanche), balance low to high (snowball), or any personalized order you want.

Then, it gives you a little summary, which includes info like how soon you´ll be debt free, and what the total amount is that you will have paid in interest.

Below, it tells you how much to pay each month, showing milestones of when debts are paid off, and it automatically rebalances your debt contributions once you start paying off debts one by one.

It´s so easy to modify and see real numbers.  I absolutely love it.


Okay, before you all crucify me, let´s remember that personal finance is meant to be personal, and well, not every solution is for everybody, okay??

I completely agree with all of you that YNAB is awesome.  It´s clean, it runs smoothly, the support available and tutorials are awesome.  I especially liked the categorization freedom it allows.  This is one of my biggest gripes with Mint–that their preset categories cannot be deleted, even if they don´t apply to you.

But it´s a lot of work.  You have to manually enter each transaction you make, and categorize it and move this and that, and ugggg.  I keep track of every transaction in my old fashioned Excel spreadsheet, so why is this so much more work?

Well, I guess it´s doing a lot of fancy things in the background.  I logged in maybe 4 times and updated it, and I liked it, but honestly, all the updating it required was too time consuming.  For me.  It might be great for you.  There´s a free trial, and you should check it out.


Here comes my normal monthly update! 🙂  You might notice it´s shorter because 4 line items have been deleted (CC1, Mom´s CC, Checking Overages, and IRS).  Those balances reached $0 last month and I´m not looking back!

NEW BALANCE CHANGE from last month DEBT (in order from highest interest rate to lowest)
$1,638.18 -$22.76 gas card
$2,474.36 -$437.98 CC2
$4,857.36 $69.72 CC3
$7,764.23 $358.73 CC4
$7,327.78 -$253.77 car
$5,250.00 $0.00 unsub2
$9,160.55 -$250.56 401k 1
$4,988.84 -$545.39 401k 2
$3,500.00 $0.00 sub
$6,000.00 $0.00 unsub1
$52,961.30 -$1,082.01 TOTAL

$42,463.92 $1,901.92 401k
$140.06 -$59.94 emergency savings
$1,500.05 -$399.95 tuition savings
$0.00 -$500.00 dental savings
$44,104.03 $942.03 TOTAL

This month´s success was only $2024.04.  Certainly not as good as it could have been.  I´m embarrased and ashamed to post so many red numbers.  I don´t know what to tell you.  All I can do is use this as motivation for next month.

I´ll console myself now with the pretty pictures I promised you would be a regular thing now.


Starting debt:   $60,811.31
Starting savings:  $34,198.44
Starting Net Worth:  -$26,612.87

Current debt:   $52,961.30
Current savings:  $44,104.03
Current Net Worth:  -$8,857.27

This means I´ve increased my net worth by $17,755.60 YTD.

At least my Net Worth is above the $-10k line??

At least my Net Worth is above the $-10k line??


I won´t go into why this is so frustrating yet again (read about it here), but here they are, these fabulous blurbs.

What changed this month that might have affected my credit score?

1. I removed myself from my mom´s CC account all together.  She kept that card pretty maxed out, and I had paid my part and wasn´t planning on using it again, so I just took that one off completely.

2. I closed my checking account (and paid off checking overages) and went back to using my long-standing credit union account.

AND YET my score as reported by Capital One (top) and CreditKarma (middle) went down.  My score as reported by Mint (bottom) stayed the same.




Finally, I´m not going to update the pies monthly.  The pies were really useful in helping me determine how much of a raise I´ll need in order for a new job in a new city to be financially feasable.  Now that I know, the job hunt continues.

This month was a little rough for me, financially, and all over the place emotionally.  How was your April?

12 thoughts on “New Tools and April Update

  1. Truley sorry to hear you had a bit of a rough month. I’ve prayed for your job search and I’m thinking positive thoughts that next month will be better. Glad you have the YNAB review. We haven’t been tracking our spend too well and is like to do better, so I was looking into apps for that. Does not sound like YNAB is for me!


  2. Truck sorry to hear this was a rough month. I’ve prayed for your job thought and I’m sending positive thoughts for a better May!

    Glad you posted the YNAB review. I want to get better about tracking our spending but that sounds too manual for me.


    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Kirsten. I’m humbled by your thoughts and prayers.
      You might like Mint. It’s much more automated, though not very customizable.


  3. I’m in Camp YNAB but I am definitely lured by pretty things — it’s more exciting than excel, so I enjoy using it 🙂 I also am a big fan of manual entry though; I don’t automate anything (bill pay, etc) because I feel like when I do that I’m liable to lose track of something. Anyway, I’m glad you’re experimenting and finding things that work for you! Also, I’m sorry that you feel like you had a rough April. But if I’d just looked at the numbers I wouldn’t have said that; a $2000 gain is about what I aim for each month! Also, I don’t know much about credit scores, but I’d give it another few months. I know sometimes when you close accounts they do dip temporarily. Reducing your debt to income ratio and making on-time payments are the things that seem to help most. I hope you feel better in May!


    • Thanks, C. I just have to be more patient with myself, I know.
      I don’t automate my bill payments either, for the same reason. However, sitting down to pay bills twice a month is kind of an event, and I know it’s going to take some time. I like how quickly I can update my budget in excel every day.
      Anyway! About the credit scores, all I can say is that, in 2.5 years when I’m debt free, those scores better be better! I’m willing to be patient, it’s just frustrating to see them go in the wrong direction.


  4. I’ve used Mint and Persona Capital and like both for different reasons, but I track spending best with my own spreadsheet. As long as you do it, the way that works best for you is the right one.


  5. Pingback: Chicago and May Update | SmashOdyssey

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