Managing your household finances can be a formidable task, but the technological savvy behind today’s budgeting tools is making this chore easier than ever.
Today, Daniela Baker from the credit card comparison website, CreditDonkey, shares her tips on managing your household budget. Once you have a good idea of the money coming in and going out each month, you will have real power over your finances. This may result in less stress, more savings, and more money for retirement.
Once you learn the basics of budgeting, you learn about the latest and greatest tools to make budgeting a cinch and maybe even a little fun. Who would have guessed budgeting could be fun?
Budgeting is nothing more than keeping track of the money coming in and going out of your household. This is usually tracked on a monthly basis. Because your lifestyle is always evolving, your budget is too. Once you have a good idea about how much you make and spend, you can continually make adjustments to augment changes in your lifestyle or income. First, gather all financial statements, including pay stubs, mortgage payments, and more, and get to work.
1. Record all income. Do not forget to record any income you may make in addition to a regular paycheck. This includes any income you make through your own business, dividends from stock, or any other extra income.
2. Record all expenses. This includes predictable expenses like car and mortgage payments to variable expenses, such as groceries and entertainment.
3. Categorize expenses. You can break up your expenses into categories like rent, food, utilities. You can also categorize fixed and variable expenses. Make this personal to your budget. Remember, this is a tool to allow you to have more control over your money. What level of control do you need? Would you like to be able to adjust entertainment expenditures or keep track of money spend on a hobby? Many online budgeting tools offer categories that you can further personalize.
4. Add up all your income and expenses. If your income is greater than expenses, you are off to a good start. Maybe you want to allocate some of these funds into savings, an emergency fund, or retirement. If your expenses are more than your income, you need to see what expenses can be reduced or eliminated.
5. Continue to review. Review your budget on a regular basis. Remember, even if you are in good shape, it is always important to have goals. Would you like to save 10% or 20% of your income each month? Save more for retirement? Go on an exciting vacation each year?
The Right Tools for Your Budget
1. Budget Spreadsheets – This can be a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel or free spreadsheets you can find online. If you need assistance, you can often find online tutorials. Here is another spreadsheet budgeting tool.
PearBudget – This free budgeting program is written in Excel and can be used by a variety of spreadsheet programs.
2. Comprehensive Online Tools – There are online tools that handle most, if not all, of your budgeting needs. (Those marked with PA have a phone app.)
(PA) Mint – This free online tool allows you to link your checking, savings, and credit card accounts, and it assigns transactions into categories. For those worried about security, Mint claims to use the save level of security as many banks, and it is a read-only service. This means that funds can only be viewed, not moved.
(PA) Buxfer – For the free membership, you can track up to five checking, saving, and credit card accounts. This tool also has bill reminder and IOU tracking tools.
(PA) Mvelopes Personal — This personal finance and spending management tool applies software technology to the traditional envelope method of budgeting.
Budget Tracker – Budget Tracker is a free tool that tracks multiple accounts, has a calendar to remind you of bills and tasks, budgeting tools, graphs and charts, and more.
(PA) YNAB – Budgeting, bill scheduling, and monitoring bank activity are some of the many features of this budgeting software.
Phone Apps to Manage Your Money
While some online money management tools have phone apps, there are a number of these programs that operate solely on your phone. Here are some of the top rated budget phone apps.
Getting your finances under control empowers you in so many other areas of your life. You can have greater peace of mind, money for exotic vacations, or maybe a bigger nest egg. Whatever your goals are, technology now literally puts fun, interactive tools in the palm of your hand. Now, what are you waiting for?