In my last post, I discussed why doing a budget makes your other personal finance goals easier, how to do one the easy way, when to update it as your finances change, and resources to get you started. Today, let’s conclude the budget topic with tips and tools for sticking to a budget.
Managing your money is part psychology, part knowledge, and part tools. A money management plan / budget is a tool that helps manage both your cash flow and your mental impulses to spend beyond your means. Also consider other tools that help manage both your money and your mindset. Consider budgeting spreadsheets, websites, and smartphone apps on a long-term basis. Use a prepaid card rather than a credit card to force your discretionary spending to stay within the amount that you load on your prepaid card each month. Or set aside a set amount of cash each month for your discretionary spending and stop your spending when your monthly stash of cash is gone. Use email or text alerts from your bank, prepaid card, credit cards, and other financial accounts to remind you of your spending, balances, and bills. Use direct deposit, automatic bill paying, and automatic savings to ensure you cover your priorities and simplify your financial life. Using the right tools and mental mindset should help living within your means and saving towards your goals become a habit more than a straitjacket.
You have many budgeting applications, spreadsheets, and websites to choose from, so there is no excuse not to find the one just right for you. Here are more.
- http://gnucash.org/ – I usually highlight easy to use websites for the general reader, but here is one for people who want all the bells and whistles. GnuCash allows you to track bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses. It promises to be “as quick and intuitive to use as a checkbook register, it is based on professional accounting principles to ensure balanced books and accurate reports.”
- https://www.learnvest.com/ – This budgeting website is good for people who want help with the financial basics.
- https://yodleemoneycenter.com/ – This budgeting website and smartphone app is good for knowledgeable users who want to customize their money management application with dozens of add-on widgets.