A budget is an excellent way to keep track of your expenses and achieve your short and long-term savings goals. The key to any budget, of course, is sticking to it. Read on to learn about free budgeting tools and ideas to help you more easily manage your money and track your spending.
Budget by Keeping a Spending Diary
An empty notebook could be just what you need to help jumpstart your commitment to saving. While you may have heard of this technique in terms of dieting, it works just as well for budgeting. A simple diary in which you record every expense is a great way to see exactly where your money is going. Once you’ve gotten a good picture of what you’re spending on, you can effectively decide what expenditures to cut. Start saving money on bills with these 5 easy calls. A spending diary will make your budgeting life much easier.
The Envelope System is a Great Budgeting Tool
After you’ve established a budget, using a system of envelopes to hold your monthly allotment in various categories is an easy and effective means of enforcing spending limits. Put the amount of cash you want to spend on say, entertainment in an envelope. When the envelope is empty, you’ve exhausted the monthly amount for this area. Clearly, if you run out of grocery money you’re going to have to make some adjustments, but working with only cash is key to reigning in your spending.
Become the Spreadsheet King/Queen
If you already have Microsoft Excel on your computer, this handy tool is very useful. It provides several easy-to-use budgeting templates to choose from. Another free option is a budget template for Google Sheets. This choice is for people who don’t mind working with spreadsheets and entering data by hand. While inputting data into a spreadsheet does require some effort, many experts believe that it gives you a better grasp of budgeting.
Free Money Management Tools
There are several options available out there for money management tools. It’s your personal choice to go with whichever is more suitable for you. It would be a crime to not use one at all! These money management tools make it easy to stay on top of your personal finance game.
Available at www.mint.com, this is a free web-based personal financial management tool for the U.S. and Canada. Just enter basic information including banking, credit and investment accounts and Mint begins automatically tracking your funds. It comes with a set of default categories that works for most people’s budgets. What’s more, Mint was developed by Intuit, so come tax time your information feeds seamlessly into TurboTax.
Level Money will remind you of the envelope system except it’s available on your smartphone. Just set up your spending and savings goals and the app lets you know how much you can spend each day, week and month and still stay on track. What’s more, Level Money connects to your bank accounts and estimates your income and spending patterns automatically.
Another great tool at your disposal is EveryDollar. You can easily set up a budget for a financial goal and keep track of your progress to achieving that goal. What’s great is that all of this information is at the palm of your hands with your smartphone.
Whichever method you choose to follow, it’s important to keep track of your spending. The ultimate secret to budgeting is to spend less and save more. These free budgeting tools are super helpful to better manage your money. Sticking to a budget isn’t as difficult as it may seem, but there’s no harm in getting all the help you can—especially when it’s free.
What will you be doing with all that money you’ve been saving up? How about investing your money to make your money work for you?