Sticking to a budget can be difficult. In this blog, we provide seven helpful tools to make your budget easier to follow.
The simplest and oldest method of tracking a budget is to write it down. Pick up a pen and a notebook and write down your expenses. Even if the idea of writing your budget down doesn't appeal to you in the long term, it's the perfect way to get an idea of what to expect in the short-term.
Writing everything down can seem laborious, and you may even forget to note the little purchases. But if can overcome those obstacles, you can better understand how much those little purchases add up.
2. Envelopes and Cash
Another time-tested method is the envelopes and cash method. At the beginning of the month, decide on a budget for each category of spending, such as electricity, food, transportation, savings, clothing, and entertainment. Put the cash for each category in an envelope and use it through the month.
Once all the cash in one envelope is gone, stop making purchases in that category. The more often you use the tangible cash, the more easily you can stick to your budget.
If you have Microsoft Excel or a Google Drive account, you can also use a spreadsheet to track your spending. You can find templates through Microsoft to help you get started online, or you can just create one from scratch. Using a spreadsheet allows you to compile all your budgeting information easily in one place-you can even compare months and customize the sheet to suit your needs perfectly.
4. Certain Credit Cards
Some credit and debit cards, including Discover and American Express, have online budgeting features. These cards automatically track and categorize your spending so you can easily see, for example, how much you spend on entertainment versus electricity. Some of these cards even allow you to set limits and help you decrease your credit card debt over time. Of course, the downside to this method is it only works for purchases on the one card or account.
5. Bank Smarter
Same as certain credit cards, certain banks have developed online budgeting features as well. You can track your spending, categorize purchases, and monitor your overall finances. Many of these banks' smartphone apps also allow you to view and adjust these features as you like.
6. Use Budgeting Apps
Mint was developed in 2006 by Intuit. It's one of the oldest, best-known, and most popular online and smartphone apps used for budgeting. You enter in basic information such as investment, credit, banking and accounts, and Mint will automatically track your spending. It has default settings that are useful and customizable for most people. Since it's owned by Intuit, Mint feeds your information into TurboTax at tax season.
Mint can track not only your spending habits but also your income, net worth, assets, and liabilities. You can set goals and receive alerts when your spending gets out of control in certain categories. It's free, so you'll see various advertisements on the site and app as you use it.
7. Other Online and Smartphone Apps
Many other online and smartphone apps exist to help you stay on track with your budget. Some of the most popular ones include Level Money, GnuCash, YNAB (You Need a Budget), and Personal Capital. Each has its own features and benefits designed to help people with various needs and preferences. You can easily make a quick Google search to find lists detailing the pros and cons of each to find the perfect one for you.
Your financial health begins and ends with your budget. Use any combination of these tools to find the right system for you. Regardless of how you budget, emergencies can happen. When you still feel you are short on cash, you can always visit Flexible Finance Loans for your short-term lending needs.