6 Tools to Help You Tackle a Budget

When it comes to budgeting personal finances, some have a natural knack while others have a dreadful disdain.

Wherever you lie on the spectrum, budgeting can benefit multiple areas of your life, including your credit, savings, stress levels and future big purchase plans. It’s especially helpful in the military’s constantly changing circumstances.

Budgeting tools

Utilize modern technology’s tools to stay on budget.

While many people know the theory behind a budget, not everyone knows how to begin or stick to one. Luckily with the Internet, there are more ways to accommodate both ends of the spectrum.

No Computer Necessary

For those who prefer physically logging or handling finances, these non-technology tools may be most helpful:

·The Envelope System: Handing over a stack of bills has a much different feel of accountability than does simply swiping a debit or credit card — not to mention a visual for those wanting to learn self-regulation.

All you do is pay monthly bills, add your designated amount to savings and divide the leftover money into envelope categories: gas, grocery, clothing, entertainment, pets/kids, etc. Once the envelope is empty, your spending is done until the next paycheck.

·Calendar: You can either buy a planner or print online calendars to record upcoming events and bills. This can help you gauge how much you allocate to entertainment one week as opposed to another. If you have a planned vacation or TDY calls for extra babysitting, you can save yourself from budgeting scrambles.

Phone Apps

It’s hard to imagine a time when all phones did was make calls. Now they have budgeting tool apps. Most of us carry out phones on us anyway, so having a smart phone with budgeting capabilities is a great way to keep you from second-guessing your available funds.

One example is the $2.99 app iReconcile, in which you can set up categories and subcategories of your budget and it will track daily to yearly budgets. It even has an option to roll unspent cash into next month’s budget.

Direct Deposit Distribution

If you’re the type who can’t help but splurge once money hits your hand, or if you just prefer not to divvy it up yourself, consider setting up your banking accounts into what CNN Money calls the bucket budget. Set up two checking accounts and one savings account, then with direct deposit divide your paycheck three ways: Fixed expenses in account one; savings in the savings account; and leftover money in the checking account. This way you can keep track of how much cash you have to “play” with.

Free Personal Online Tools

We live in a technological age, which means our budgets can, too. There are multiple sites that allow you to fill out personal budgeting worksheets that help track where your money goes. Here are two top-rated budgeting tools, according to WealthWise Magazine:

  • Mint: Mint.com can help categorize your budget and automatically update financial information every night. One noted feature are the weekly updates to summarize your spending and savings.
  • Just Budget: If you want to focus more on your daily expenses, JustBudget may be your best option. It helps you monitor spending and provides statistics and charts for you to review and gauge your spending.

Budgeting Software

If you want ultimate involvement and customization of your budget, you may want to consider purchasing software.

Quicken is a popular program that downloads your financial information and also keeps you informed on bills and debt repayment. You can set up goals and use Quicken to track your progress.

Photo thanks to alancleaver_2000 under a creative commons license from Flickr.