The Best Free Budgeting Tools for Your Lifestyle
August 28, 2019
The idea of budgeting is one that can scare even the best of us. Budgets have the reputation of being tedious and hard, and as such people can be reluctant to even attempt to create one – but it doesn’t have to be that way. With these free budgeting tools, budgeting can be as easy as Sunday morning.
1. Budget Pulse
If you’re looking for a simple, online method of budgeting your money, Budget Pulse is a good choice. You’ll start by manually inserting your current financial details and will then continue to manually update your information as you spend and save. The program even allows you to create longer-term financial goals and will help you track your progress towards them. This program can’t automatically track your spending, but if you’re someone who doesn’t like the idea of linking your bank account then this would be a good choice for you.
GnuCash is similar to Budget Pulse in that it is simple to use and doesn’t link to any of your bank accounts. GnuCash is an accounting software and therefore uses a checkbook-style register that helps ensure all books balance. Fortunately for users, you do not need to be well versed in accounting to use the software. No internet connection is required to use this as it’s downloaded onto your computer, allowing you to use it whenever you have access to your computer. GnuCash also creates reports and graphs for better understanding of your financial data, both of which can be customized to fit your needs.
Mint is a free budgeting app available for iPhone and Andriod users that connects to your bank account(s) and allows you to see all of your accounts, expenses, and investments in one place. The app tracks changes in your account as they happen, allowing you to stay up to date on your finances. The app also has a free credit score checker, allows you to set up payment alerts, allows you to categorize your budget, and even has investment tracking tools for users who want to stay on top of their investments.
EveryDollar is an online platform that utilizes Dave Ramsey’s financial philosophy to help you track and plan your spending right down to your last penny. It’s intended to help you create detailed monthly budgets so that you can get a better idea of where your money is going. Using the free version of this platform users are not able to sync their bank accounts and must input their information manually. For those who don’t like the hassle of manually entering their information, there is a paid version that allows users to sync their bank accounts for automatic tracking.
If you like the envelopes system cash management system but don’t want the hassle of using physical envelopes, then Goodbudget is a good option for you. The system allows you to create virtual envelopes that can be used to track expenses. The system also allows you to sync your budget(s) with others and across devices. There is a free and a paid version, so you can choose the plan that best fits your current needs and financial status.
If you’re not interested in using an app or online system, you can always use the traditional spreadsheet method. This method allows you to truly customize your tracking of income and expenses in a way that makes sense for you. It can be hard to know how to organize your spreadsheet, but both Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets offer free budget templates you can use to help simplify your budgeting.
Using envelopes is a simple, low-tech method of managing your money. The idea here is that once you create your budget and decide how much money you want to spend in different areas of your life (groceries, bills, entertainment, etc.), you put the allotted amount of money in a labeled envelope. Once the money in that envelope runs out, you can no longer spend in that area and must wait until your next paycheck. This is a simple way to help you become more conscious of how you’re spending your money.
8. Pen and Paper
If all of the apps, systems, and programs available seem overwhelming, you can always fall back on using a pen and paper to budget. Using a pen and paper takes everything we’ve talked about in the previous methods and makes it entirely manual. With this method you will write down and track all of your expenses – from your monthly bills to the sandwich you bought for lunch yesterday. You will then categorize these expenses as either needs or wants. Tally up your total income and then look at how much your needs cost you – this is the category to pay off first. Any extra money you have left over can go towards items in your wants category!
With the many different budgeting tools and options, budgeting doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems. All you need is a little bit of patience and a few minutes per day and you’ll be well on your way to taking control of your finances.
At Illinois Lending we know that life doesn’t always go as planned. Even when you have a dedicated budget to help manage your finances, there may be times when you find yourself in need of a little extra money. We’re here to help. If you want to learn more, look at the loans we offer and consider applying for one today.