Hey everyone! Today I am going to go over some very useful budgeting tools you can use to create a budget that suits your needs. Budgeting is a skill everyone should master. It takes quite a bit of time and thought to create a budget that truly represents your earning and spending habits. Regardless, you simply need to have a budget. It will help you identify where you are spending a majority of your earnings, and it will help you get on track to achieve financial independence. So, here are 5 tools to help you budget like a pro!
1. Google Sheets/ Excel
What can I say? You saw this coming right? Google sheets and Microsoft Excel are very similar. Both are incredibly powerful budgeting tools, and they are perfect for those that want to create a detailed budget. With these budgeting tools, you can be as detailed as you would like. I’m serious! My master budget has a tab that contains the entire year’s spending, investing, and earning habits. It then displays all of the data in a line graph. The graph is very useful because it allows me to identify months where I simply did not meet my personal expectations.
If you decide to use Excel or Google Sheets, please keep in mind that they do have a learning curve. Creating a budget with them can be quite daunting for the inexperienced user. Also, keep in mind that Excel is a premium program where as Google Sheets is free as long as you have a gmail account. If you want to get started budgeting with these tools today, I have taken the liberty of creating a simple monthly budget for you to use. You can check it out below! In order to use it with Google sheets, you will need to import the data by going to file -> import -> and then upload.
Note: If you do download the budget, and you see an error where the percent of income spent is, ignore it. Input your data and it should calculate the percentage
Mint is a fantastic tool for those looking to avoid the hassle of maintaining a spreadsheet. It is a free tool that you can sign up for here. You can also download the app to your smart device. You can link all of your financial accounts to the platform, and you can set up a budget very easily. I actually use Mint to monitor my fiancee and I’s joint account. We only use the account for bills, and I like to be able to easily track the current amount in the account. Mint allows you to set up notifications that let you know when you are getting close to surpassing your budget. I find that it is a very useful feature. You can also link your various investment accounts to the platform. Mint is, simply put, a versatile tool that is worth trying out!
3. Personal Capital
Personal Capital is very similar to Mint. You can also link all of your accounts to the platform, and it will display your data via a dashboard. The dashboard is great for getting an overview of your financial situation. The tool is fairly smart as well because it automatically categorizes expenses after the initial set up. A small but notable advantage this platform has over Mint is that you can link your Robinhood account to it. Mint has yet to add the feature, sadly.
Quicken is a well known and widely used tool. It is practically the father of budgeting software. You can manage all of your finances on one platform with Quicken. Once again, you can link your bank accounts and investment accounts to the program. The program lets you generate fairly useful reports as well. I personally do not use Quicken, but I know quite a few people that swear by it! If you are looking for a tried and true budgeting tool, check out Quicken.
5. The Envelope System
The envelope system was made popular by Dave Ramsey. If you are seeking financial independence, and you do not know who that is, stop what you are doing and look him up. His advice can be very useful. I am particularly fond of his advice because I am not fond of debt. Anyway, the envelope system is a budgeting system you may want to try out. It is not a program like all of the aforementioned tools, but a simple budgeting system.
The envelope system requires that you use a different envelope for every item in your budget. Groceries? Envelope. Eating out? Envelope. It is that simple. The system requires that you primarily use cash to keep track of your expenses (obviously because the cash is stored in an envelope). You should only be withdrawing from the envelopes when you need to. The point of the system is to limit your spending and help you avoid unknown expenses that can be overlooked when using a card. I personally do not use this system, but it is quite useful for those that need to really get a hold of their spending.
What did you think of my list? Do you have any additional tools to recommend? Comment below! I personally love maintaining my master spreadsheet, and I find that Mint is an extremely useful tool. If you are going to use a spreadsheet to track your expenses, make sure you download my simple budget sheet! You can find it below. Cheers and happy budgeting!