Nearly all financial moves begin with the assumption that you understand where your money is going every month, and that means you need to have a system for money management. Budgeting isn’t always easy. Many don’t have a budget at all, and others have tried budgeting but have given up.
Choosing Your Budget Style
There are many types of budgets you can use. In the simplest form, a budget is looking at your income and expenses and ensuring that your income is more than your expenses each month. There are some budgeting methods that are very strict and call on you to allocate for every single dollar that passes through your accounts. There are some that are much simpler. Any budget is better than no budget at all, but you need to settle on a method that you will actually follow. It takes time to develop a habit. Some families like the idea of implementing a strict budget initially to get them into the mindset of budgeting, while others will fail at that approach quickly and may need a simpler start. Begin the process of finding the best budgeting tools by considering your family and your financial goals.
Best Electronic Budgeting Tools
There are several budgeting tools that are available as apps or websites, where all the calculation is taken out of your hands and you can see graphs and charts showing you where your money is going. Some of these include
Mint has been around for over ten years. It’s easy to use and can link all your accounts to give you a full financial picture. You can set spending limits, have Mint help you build a monthly budget, and monitor your progress toward saving and debt repayment goals.
YNAB (You Need a Budget) is much more comprehensive and helps you allocate and track every dollar you have and spend. It’s intense, but YNAB will guide you through the steps. It will also sync your accounts if you want it to.
If you are transitioning from an old-school method of budgeting and used the envelope system, this is the electronic version of that.
Albert is for those who are new to budgeting and personal finance. It will analyze your spending habits, help you create a budget, and find places you can save. It’s a simple app that is a non-threatening way to begin budgeting.
Best “Old School” Budgeting Tools
Some prefer paper planners to iCal or Google calendars, and some prefer keeping their financial picture off their phones entirely. As long as you’re committed to sticking to the plan, there is no reason not to stay old school and enter your information manually rather than trusting software or an app to take over. Some of these methods include
· A Monthly Spreadsheet
You can easily allocate what is going in and out. This can be done on your computer or even just in a notebook. Although it isn’t strictly paper and pencil, Excel has templates that will help you develop a system that works for you.
· The Envelope System
You take your income and divide it out into envelopes (if you want to go truly old school, use cash, but you can simply write the amounts and keep them in the envelopes). Every dollar goes into an envelope that can be labeled with the expense the money inside will cover, and when an envelope is empty, that’s it for the month. It forces you to look in the envelope when deciding, for example, if you can order take out.
How to Determine the Best Budgeting Tools for You
The best budgeting tools are the ones that you will actually use. You can have several apps on your phone, a spreadsheet with a budget template, or envelopes in your wallet, but if you aren’t going to use them, they will lose their status as the “best budgeting tools.”
If you are overwhelmed at the thought of creating a budget for the first time, or you are worried that you will start a system and fail, speaking with a financial consultant can help give you the confidence you need to get started. We can help. Our knowledgeable team of financial consultants can help you develop a budget you will actually follow, and the results of that are true financial success. Contact Safe Money Partners today to learn more.