There has never been a better (or easier) time to track your expenses and assets than in this current financial environment. There are many free budgeting tools out there to use. And the good news is that over the last thirty days your expenses have probably decreased because you can’t go anywhere! You should also have more time to dedicate to getting your finances in order.
Dave Ramsey is still touting the old envelope system to budget with. This approach works well in weening someone off living on credit cards but is certainly not practical long-term; nor is it easy to manage for a busy professional. Personal budgeting can be simple. Pay yourself first by contributing to retirement, college, emergency saving accounts and everything after can be spent. However, you should have an idea where the rest of your money goes and track your overall assets and debts.
The simplest way to aggregate your accounts and spending may be your bank’s website or app. My bank, Delta Community Credit Union, allows me to link outside accounts, track property values and investment assets. The budget tool categorizes my spending into simple categories.
My favorite budget tracking tool is mint.com. This free website has been around for a long time along with their free app. Mint automatically updates and categorizes transactions in real time. Users can customize categories, track bills, split transactions and set budgets that alert you when maximum spending thresholds are being exceeded. The service also provides free credit scores and credit monitoring.
For Wiser Clients (MoneyGuidePro)
Our MoneyGuidePro financial planning software allows you to sync in your credit card and checking accounts to create and track a budget. It allows you to see your investing accounts and spending in one place. You also have the option to make your transactions visible to your advisor.
Tracking your cash outflows can help you think twice before buying the next unnecessary item. It can also help you pick up on fraud or other unauthorized activity in your accounts. Most importantly, it helps you focus on your financial goals.
Casey T Smith