Many of us go into the new year with a resolution, whether that’s picking up a new hobby, going to the gym, reading a book etc. But have you ever thought about perfecting your budget? Budgets change every year and they should be revisited often. The best way to perfect your budget and stay on top of it is to download a budgeting app. There are so many to choose from but I will be talking about the two I have used and why.
If you are starting your budget, you most likely do not want a budget to perfect your budget (paying a monthly fee). If you want a free app that will allow you to lay out your starting budget, I would recommend Mint. With Mint, you are able to attach your bank accounts, credit cards, investments, property, and your outstanding loans so that every time you make a purchase it automatically is entered in your budget. With Mint you can create a budget that fits you. One of my favorite features is that Mint tracks your monthly subscriptions; it will notify you if they increase or you get charged for something extra. This is a good way to see what you are paying for every month. Mint allows you to personalize your budget. I recommend that you create a budget that fits you for the year. You will want to make sure that you budget throughout the year for car registration, dog registration, car inspections, etc. so, you are not worried when that time comes around. In my opinion, Mint is a great starting point.
Mint was a good starting place for me when I didn’t even know how budgeting worked. Once I knew how it worked, I wanted an app that better aligned with my needs. That is when I found “You Need A Budget” or “YNAB”. This app is different compared to Mint. YNAB allows you to attach all your Bank accounts, credit cards, investments, cash and debt. What is different is that although YNAB tracks all your spending, the app makes you approve all of the transactions. This allows you to see how it is affecting your budget in real time while also not making you feel bad for your spending habits. YNAB allows you to personalize your budget and allows you to set completion dates for those longer term needs and goals. YNAB has grown my savings by $3K since I started using it. This resulted because I was able to use a feature of the app that allows you to have a savings goal. I also learned how to save for larger purchases months down the line. My favorite feature of YNAB is that you are able to look at your budget 3 months out. So, I am currently budgeting into March. Now, just because YNAB works for me does not mean it will work for everyone. YNAB is an app that you will pay a monthly fee for. You can either pay $14.99 monthly or $99 annually. This is not an expense that will fit in everybody’s budget. Budgeting is really assessing how your needs and wants are different and vary through different months as well as making sure it matches up with your income.
First step? Start a budget. It is intimidating but it makes you feel in control of your finances. Feeling comfortable with your finances allows you to feel more confident over all. Money can affect emotions more than we think and constantly worrying about financial security can have an impact on your life. It is important to start somewhere, whether that is with Mint, YNAB, another great app, or even a spreadsheet on excel or sheets, your goals can be accomplished.