Your finances are the foundation of a happy, stress-free life. Responsible financial planning depends a great deal on crafting an efficient budget for yourself. A budget shows exactly how much money you bring in and how much money is spent. A budget can also give you a clear perspective on securing savings for the future. To get all of these benefits out of a budget, you must also make sure that you use the right tools to set it up. In addition to all of these benefits, a budget can also help you effectively manage credit card debt. While we look at some budgeting fundamentals in detail, this post will also focus on some best apps for budgeting.
First Steps to Crafting a Budget Plan
A budget plan essentially shows your flow of money in your everyday life. This plan can be a financial guideline that helps you adjust bad spending habits. You can also focus more on getting rid of debt with the savings you make by focusing on your budget. Budgeting is one of the most crucial pieces of debt advice to follow. Your budget plan can use many tools including the best apps for budgeting that are available.
We live in an era where using credit is vastly encouraged. While this is one way to build your financial credibility it is also a means for mindless spending. The convenience to spend whenever and wherever with credit cards as adding to the mountain of debt making debt recovery harder than it needs to be. In all of this, budgeting can help consumers gain control of their spending. And with proper planning, it can help to improve your financial situation.
Once we go through a step-by-step process of crafting a budget plan, we can look at the best budgeting apps that are available for use to make life easier.
Step 01: Tracking Your Expenses
Take stock of all your monthly living expenses and other monthly bills. This step is a time-consuming exercise. Making sure you account for everything is crucial. Before you go an invest in the so-called best budgeting apps, start the process on a spreadsheet on a computer or a notebook. The daily expense tracking sheet by ACCC can get you started on this step.
Step 02: Finding the Balance
How well does your actual and budgeted expenses tally? Once you categorize these expenses into broader categories such as household expenses, utilities, credit card payments, etc., can you identify which categories are throwing you off the scale? Focus your energy on those to start with to make managing debt a little easier.
This is where you will spend most of your time organizing your budget. And some best apps for budgeting that are available can help you ease into the whole process.
Step 03: Control & Continuation
This is by far the most difficult yet the most important step of a budget management exercise. This is where your financial discipline is more important than anything else. You mustn’t give in to the emotions and impulses that drive you to spend more money. If you think credit cards are throwing you off track in the whole process, give them a little break. Lock them up for the first month of your budget plan. You can use a cash-only approach to instill that discipline in you at the beginning. Also, make sure you build the habit of keeping track of all your expenses. The online banking portals provide free and useful money management tools and track and manage your budget. This is a good place to start.
Best Apps for Budgeting
Mint is a well-known budgeting app and is known as one of the best apps for budgeting. This app offers many features that help track and manage money. Mint can automatically categorize transactions from all of the accounts you have linked and tracks those categories against a budget that you set. It also sends you alerts when you go over budget and helps you look at a well-rounded picture of your finances. Once you have the basics laid out as described earlier in this post you can use tools such as Mint to help better manage your budget.
This is a known budgeting app intended to help you guard against spending too much. You can link your financial accounts to the app and it can help you track your spending against your budget in any given month. This app stands ahead in terms of ease to set up and connect with your financial accounts. Also, this app helps track each bill to find openings for potential savings.
This app is more commonly known as YNAB. Among other best budgeting apps, this has a more unique outlook to budgeting. This app ensures every account you bring in as earnings are accounted for in your budget. If you are partners working together on your finances this app is right for you. Like the other apps, this tool allows you to link your financial accounts to the app. You can also manually add expenses to this app. Yet another special feature in this app is the ability to set and track debt elimination goals to keep you motivated.
This is yet another great app if you are a couple managing your money jointly. If you are one to share your budgeting process this would be your go-to app. Ranked among the best apps for budgeting this draws inspiration from the traditional envelop method. This app allows the ability to sync up budgets between partners.
These are only a few apps that are available for you to get on board the budgeting board. You can start slow. A spreadsheet can be your starting point. Whichever method you use, the idea is that you stick with the method you choose.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Sign up for a free credit counseling session with us today.