You need help making a budget, and that’s OK. Everyone who takes the dive into budgeting eventually realizes that there must be a better way to do things. Luckily, there is! Below are 5 of my favorite tools (besides my favorite which is envelope budgeting) that will prevent you from pulling hair out of your head trying to figure out where that $8.00 went.
Mint.com is probably one of my favorite tools for two reasons: it is integrated nicely, and it is free. Mint.com allows you to aggregate all of your financial data into one place, set budgets, and track your spending.
In addition to being visually stunning, it creates useful reports, and can even email when you break budgets. It also allows message alerts for fees, low balances, and weekly summaries. For the price, Mint.com cannot be beaten! If you’re concerned about Privacy, then read numbers 2 & 3 below.
2. You Need A Budget
You Need A Budget approaches budgeting with accountability (no pun intended). They don’t want you to just automatically download data and get into a “set it and forget it” mindset, so if you need to have more accountability than Mint.com might require, then this might be the best solution for you.
In addition, people who fancy privacy will enjoy the fact that this is a software that is on your computer, rather than floating around on Intuit’s servers.
Site: You Need A Budget
3. Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Calculator
Do you want privacy, but you also want free? Then you might consider going a little more old school and using spreadsheets. The two tools best for this job will be Microsoft Excel, or Open Office Calculator.
I use Microsoft Excel when it is present (prettier and better templates), but if I don’t happen to have it, then I’m perfectly happy with Open Office Calculator. There are numerous spreadsheets available online (both free and paid) to assist you in this task, but it is also quite easy to make your own.
Price: $$$ (unless you already have it)
Site: Microsoft Office
Open Office Calculator:
Site: Open Office
4. How To Coupon eBook
This tool may not help you budget per se, but it will certainly help you remain within your budget, which is just as important! I love saving money, but I’ve never been good at couponing. Maybe it is a lack of effort, or forgetfulness, but I’m just not good at it.
This resource is an excellent tool to learn the ins-and-outs of couponing without having to ask somebody (I shouldn’t be embarrassed, but I can be prideful sometimes).
5. Tablet PC or SmartPhone
I’m not a smartphone advocate, as the costs are so steep, but it’s the way technology is going, so why not highlight the benefits. Nearly all of the options on this list can integrate with your cell phone or tablet in some way.
While cell phones and tablets can be terribly expensive, I also believe they can save you money if you use them as a tool. In addition to accessing Mint via the Mint.com App, and having alerts delivered to you instantly no matter where you’re located, there is also a plethora of apps that can save you money.
My personal favorite is Grocery Pal. I know it is available on Android devices, but if it isn’t available on Apple iOS, then I’m sure there is something comparable if not better available. The Grocery Pal lets you create grocery lists, check store deals, and send coupons directly to your store cards! It’s a huge time and money saver!
I hope this list is beneficial for you, and if you have any other ideas or tips, don’t forget to share them in the comments!