Image via WikipediaI have spent time over the years attempting to take the hassle out of personal budgeting. I have explored options ranging from the basic check register to expensive software like Microsoft Money. I will share with you tools that have minimized my time spend focusing on my finances while allowing me to maximize my effectiveness.
So I present to you my 5 budgeting tools.
This one is my favorite. The concept is simple. You tell Rudder when you get paid, and your regular bills, and Rudder tells you how much free cash you have to blow. If you have ever looked at your balance and thought “I’m rich” but forgot about that cable bill, wireless bill, or other expense in between now and your next payday, then Rudder is for you. Once you set it up, Rudder will send you a daily or weekly email with the summary of upcoming bills, payments and shows you the amount of money you have left to spend without consequence. Its your cash flow, simplified. Best of all, the service is free.
Back in college I just spent every bit of cash I got my hands on. One day I decided to keep track of how much money I was spending in the vending machine. After a week of my little log, I discovered I was spending 38 bucks a week in there. That is over $150 a month, on snacks! PearBudget is a simple to use, lightweight budgeting and expense tracker. Use it for a week and you are guaranteed to get an eye opening look at your expenses. How much is that latte costing you a week? A month? A year? PearBudget lets you fully experience the service for free. After a trial period it runs $3 a month.
3. The B Word
This is an ebook and application designed to get you put your finances on autopilot by reducing and removing variability. Using his methods I can say I spend 15 min on my finances, twice a month and have eliminated late payments and missed bills. A well thought out approach.
If you haven’t heard of the envelope style of budgeting, then visit Mvelopes. The service has improved steadily over the years, and runs around $15 bucks a month. For that price you get a full featured web application with a significant budgeting and reporting features. Worth a look.
Last but not least is Mint. This application covers 90% of what Mvelopes does feature wise, but it is free. It has a recommendation engine that compares your credit card interest rates with others available to you, and reports on what you could save by switching. It also does a really good job of presenting your spending trends. It even allows you to compare your spending with others in nearby major metropolitan areas. I am considering switching over fully to Mint.
There you go, a brief look at 5 financial tools that have helped me out. There really are no bad choices in this list. Give them a look, but definitely give one a try.