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Simple tools to budget better

November 07, 2019

Wouldn't it be nice to have an easy way to keep track of monthly expenses and payment due dates? Or to be more organized with your money so you can cut down on surprise costs? In this article, we discuss a couple of simple tools to budget better.

Budget calendar

A budget calendar is a simple way to track payment amounts and dates and lets you see your finances from a different, more visual perspective. It helps you understand how much money you regularly need to spend and where it's going.

Start with a monthly calendar, then fill in when you spend and earn money. You can use a digital or paper calendar to map your money situation and color-code, personalize it. Your budget calendar should include:

  • Income — add your paydays or when you expect checks if you aren't paid at the same time every month.
  • Bills — input regular monthly expenses, including healthcare, rent or mortgage, utilities and groceries, as well as services that aren't monthly, such as annual subscriptions or car insurance renewal.
  • Contributions — fill in what you give for charitable donations and put away for savings, travel and upcoming events.

Smartphone

This can pair nicely with your budget calendar. There are also many apps (free or not) that help you organize expenditures, such as Mint and Budgt; and some major banks offer apps, too (see links below for a list). Budgeting apps can be basic or comprehensive, allowing you to keep it simple or input more data.

You should choose the app that best suits your needs and goals. No matter which one you install, remember that you'll still have to put in some effort entering expenses or other information. The advantage to using your smartphone for budgeting is that you often carry it with you, so you'll see alerts that remind you to make payments and watch your spending. This may be a big help in staying focused.

Since you'll be storing sensitive information in your phone, be sure it is password protected.

Check out more resources:
- Use a Budget Calendar to Manage Your Finances
- How your phone can boost your budgeting
- 7 must-have personal finance apps for iPhone
- The best financial apps for Android phones