You start every month with a budget and a plan to stick to it. You anticipate ending the month with a little for your savings account. Somewhere in the middle, you lose track, and by the end of the month, you’re biting your nails waiting on your next paycheck so you can pay your rent. Sound familiar? Many people fail at making budgets. At best, you break even and never have cash for emergencies. At worst, you miss important payments.
Your mistake? Trying to do it all yourself. Technology can help you, and the simplest apps lay out your budget in a way that’ll finally work for your finances.
Track Your Bank Accounts
Your bank’s app is a good first step, but seeing the total you have in your checking account doesn’t help you understand how much you can get away with spending each day. If you see $200 and think you can blow it all in one day, then you need the PocketGuard app. This free, secure iOS and Android app tracks all your bank accounts and categorizes your monthly bills. Then it tells you exactly how much you can spend today, keeping you on track to cover all your monthly bills without overdrawing your account.
Learn Where Your Money Goes
You think your biggest expenditure happens when you splurge at the electronics store, but when was the last time you added it all up on your bank statement? Download Prosper Daily, a free money tracking iOS and Android app. It has a handy credit monitoring feature to help keep your financial information safe. Prosper Daily categorizes your spending so you can see where you actually put most of your money. Is it electronics splurges, or all those takeout meals adding up? When you know your bad spending habits down to the dime, they’re much easier to fix.
Force Yourself to Save
Here’s the deal: no matter how in debt you are, you need to have a bit of savings in case anything bad happens, like your car breaking down with no hope of repair. Download an app that will help you save, like Mint. This free iOS and Android app has myriad amazing features, but you want it for two reasons: the app lets you set savings goals, and it lets you play with your budget. Mint has lots of great graphs that show you what will happen to your budget if you do certain things. Examine how your spending and saving decisions will affect your money before you commit to them.
Like anything else, budgeting takes practice and nobody is born good at it. The best way to get the hang of budgeting is to get help from one (or more) of these apps. After using them for a few months you’ll have a feel for your personal finances. Then you can decide if you’re ready to take on extra expenditures, treat yourself to a big vacation, or find yourself a few side hustles to make a bit more.
Image via Flickr by free pictures of money