Getting a handle on budgeting doesn't have to feel daunting. In fact, it can be fun — all you need are the right tools.
Learning how to make a budget is a smart way to keep track of your spending. Think of your budget as your financial road map — the more information you have on your income and expenses, the better you can plan for your retirement, emergency fund or home purchase. Thankfully, there are a variety of online budgeting tools that can help get you get started.
Online budgeting tools
Today, there are many engaging, and even entertaining, ways to keep track of your spending. The following are just a few of the online money management tools and budgeting apps that you can use to make household budgeting and financial planning less of a chore.
- Mint: Mint is a popular free online budgeting tool where you can link your bank and credit card accounts, as well as your investment and retirement funds. It breaks down your finances with easy-to-read graphics and helps you create a budget based on your spending patterns.
- You Need a Budget (YNAB): YNAB is another tool that helps you create a budget. Just like Mint, you can link all of your bank, credit and investment accounts to see where you stand. Where YNAB goes a bit further is in its focus on providing financial education to users.
- Budget Simple: Budget Simple is for those who don't need all the bells and whistles with their budgeting tool. Once you add your financial data, Budget Simple creates a budget for you, suggesting where you should cut your expenses or grow your savings.
- PocketGuard: PocketGuard is a budgeting app designed to help people who struggle with overspending. It also has a feature that goes through your monthly recurring bills, for example your cable bill, and finds better deals.
- Goodbudget: Goodbudget puts a modern spin on the traditional envelope budgeting method. It's free, and can help you manage your monthly bills as well as plan for future expenses.
- Wally: Wally is a budgeting tool that goes beyond the basics. You can create your budget for the month, as well as set daily goals. It also has built-in bill reminders and gives you easy to understand progress reports.
Create your own net worth budget spreadsheet
Another way to get a clearer picture of your overall finances is to create a net worth spreadsheet. Use the spreadsheet to list your total assets such as what's in your bank and retirement accounts, investment accounts, stocks and bonds, and personal property. Then do the same for your liabilities, such as your mortgage or car loan. Calculate the difference between your assets and liabilities and see where you stand.
This is a simple way to look at the big picture when it comes to your total financial situation. It can also help you make adjustments if you want to plan for big life events or want to consider your retirement needs. If you're not sure how to get started creating your net worth spreadsheet, there are plenty of options available online. Both FINRA and Morningstar have great examples.
Get started with budgeting
While there isn't a one-size-fits-all budget, these online budgeting tools might help shine a light on where you could be making some changes to reduce your expenses while actually having a little fun with it.