For many, one of the hardest elements of maintaining a household is managing overall finances, including spending and balancing a budget. Building a budget can be a stressful undertaking — in fact, the 2014 Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association found that 64 percent of those surveyed felt that money was a significant source of stress in their lives.
Often people think that tracking expenses is a budget. When actually a budget is a tool that helps you outline a realistic plan for knowing in advance how much money you will need for the month. Tracking expenses to reduce expenses is one of the valuable steps involved with maintaining a budget.
For a simple overview of creating a budget, check out the free e-course “Budgeting without Tears” to guide you through a process to reduce expenses.
Luckily, there are several apps and online tools to help you take control of your finances, and make it as easy and painless as possible.
Here are a few of our favorites:
There’s an App for That
In the age of smartphones there’s an app for nearly everything, and your budget is no exception. One of the best budgeting apps out there right now is Level Money. It doesn’t allow you to create complicated spreadsheets or automatically warn you when you’ve spent too much, but instead, it provides users with a meter to show when funds are running low.
Level Money fills up your spending “gas tank” on the first of the month based on your previous history, then automatically subtracts your savings and bills from that total. The app connects to your debit, savings, and credit accounts, and tracks your purchases. In a way, it’s a lot less of a budgeting app and more of a window into your current finances at any given time. It won’t do the work of saving for you, but it will provide a good snapshot of your current financial standing so you can reduce expenses by keeping your spending in check.
Another excellent app for helping get your expenses under control is Billguard, an app that began as a security application that scanned for fraudulent purchases on users’ credit and debit cards. Now it is among the best analytic tools for expense tracking. This spending analytics software provides users with an overview of monthly expenses by categorizing debit and credit card purchases. In doing so, it tracks the areas of highest spending, and provides the insights necessary to better tailor your budget.
Online Resources to Reduce Common Expenses
There are also many online resources to help you save money while on a budget. When calculating household budgets, consider a subscription service like Amazon Pantry. It will deliver the basics at economical prices without even going to the store.
Also, many people forget to include the costs associated with their vehicle. One of the most common car-related expenses, in addition to gas, is the cost of tires. If you’re in need of a new set, compare tire prices from the comfort of home from TireBuyer, which also offers free shipping to your local store. By comparing prices online rather than simply taking what is available at your local shop, you can save money on unexpected expenses — including tires and much more.
Another excellent way to balance your budget is with the help of an online budget tool. You Can Deal With It offers many excellent tools for everything from a general budget calculator to a debt repayment calculator. These tools can help you to get a grasp on your long-term budget needs and even help you get your debt under control. Before you know it, you’ll have effectively reduced your overall household expenses and be on a realistic budget that works for your whole family.
Remember to check out the free e-course “Budgeting without Tears” for setting up a basic budget. Or consider “The Budget Kit” workbook to help you gain a solid understanding of the powerful and time-tested core concepts of creating and maintaining a budget. Once you are armed with those core concepts, using the excellent apps mentioned above will give you even more compelling results.