How many bank accounts & cards do you have? Most of us have several, each with their own passwords, due dates and terms & conditions.
We want to be careful with our money and manage it properly, which can be tricky with several accounts. However, there are many platforms and sites making it a whole lot easier. I can testify that my personal finances have certainly had a positive impact from them.
That said, here are the top 5 tools for managing and budgeting your money.
Mint.com is a totally FREE website that lets you put all your bank accounts, investments and other financial accounts in one place. Once you’ve synced all your accounts, I love that you can use Mint.com to:
-Draw up budgets.
-Get warnings if you’re not sticking to said budgets.
-Pay your bills (all of them, with all those different due dates, in one place.)
-Analyze where and how you’re spending your money.
(For example, I love grabbing mochas on the go from Starbucks, which can add up to a lot of cash. Here, I can see how much money I’m spending at restaurants & cafes per month. I can also analyze my spending from other genres like entertainment and shopping.)
I initially felt uncomfortable giving all this information to this website, but Mint.com is a very safe, authentic website with proven credentials. Besides, it only has read access to your accounts; Mint.com can’t actually touch your money.
BudgetSimple is another free tool that’s racked up a lot of praise. It’s a budgeting and personal finance tool that’s all about making a budget that works for your lifestyle and needs.
BudgetSimple, once it has the required information, analyzes your finances and various accounts; then, it churns out a budget planner for you. This can include:
-Spots where you can save extra cash
-Suggestions for trimming your spending
-Opportunities where you can up your savings
Like Mint.com, you can link your accounts. Or (if you’d rather), you can simply enter your finance info manually.
Note: It is free, however, if you want access to Budget Simple on your phone or want to do a full linking of all your bank accounts, it’s $5 per month for premium usage.
3. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
This fairly inexpensive budgeting tool also has a cult following of users. Essentially, You Need a Budget breaks down transactions into all of the categories and subcategories you feel necessary. (Restaurants could be broken down into Special Occasion, Fast Food, Weekday Lunches and Cafes.)
This is ideal for people who have a wide spread of accounts and large number of transactions to budget and manage.
If you’re considering using YNAB, I’d recommend trying it for free before making any commitment. Get a free trial run at this link.
For those of you motivated by a specific, concrete goal, I’d highly recommend FlexScore. It’s more like a competitive game than a yawn-worthy finance tool.
Rather than trying to set an approximate budget and wade through spreadsheets, FlexScore gives you a number to hit. The score you want to receive is 1,000, symbolizing financial independence.
Start by entering in your financial information. You’ll receive a score and then get tips and hints on how to reach that 1,000 mark from there. To add that competitive edge, you can see how you’re doing in comparison to your peers. You can also get real-time advice from professional financial planners.
5. A Good, Old Fashioned Binder
Save your receipts and stick them in a binder, yes, a physical binder. It might be pesky to keep and save them one by one, but trust me, it saves time and money in the long run. For example, saving receipts is critical when you:
-Decide to return something.
-Need a proof of purchase for a warranty.
-Can get expense reimbursements, such as from a work trip or event.
-Are filing for tax deductions. (Whenever you want to make a claim or file with the IRS, it’s incredibly important to have proof to back it up, should they come inquiring or for an audit.)
-Come across a price matching opportunity. Many stores, hotels and credit cards have programs that let you get a lower rate on something you already bought…if you have your receipt.