Budgeting is a very integral part of my debt payoff journey. The sitting and the planning takes patience and focus. The follow through takes even more focus and discipline. The hardest part about making a budget is sitting down with an honest set of eyes and laying out the plan. I say this is difficult because you have to reevaluate the way you spend. You begin to ask yourself “Do I really need this or is it a want?” This is not to say that wants can’t be budgeted in but the idea is to plan ahead and draw up a map to the month ahead to prevent you from getting lost along the way. I’ve listed a few of my go to’s for budgeting below.
I’ve found that a great tool for coming up with a monthly budget is Every Dollar. The base model of Every Dollar is free for use on your computer or your smart phone. The goal is to allocate every dollar to a job/assignment for the upcoming month. This means that you must plan in advance where you want your money to go down to the last penny. Sticking with the monthly budget guarantees that all that you intended for your money comes to fruition. With the Every Dollar Plus tool, you’re able to link your bank account to your budget. This added benefit is free for the first 15 days and is $8.25/month or $99/year afterwards.
Cost: Free (basic)
Pros: Proactive Budgeting Tool; Takes 10 minutes to setup your budget
Cons: Really there are none but -Doesn’t allow for weekly/bi-weekly budgeting
I’ve not leaped to try the Every Dollar Plus features because Bank of America has a free budgeting tool for customers which is pretty damn good considering the actual bank sucks [Just my opinion]. I like the fact that this one is already linked to my B of A account so I don’t have to give a 3rd party access to my info. The drawback is that I have more than one bank so their budget profile pretty much ignores any activity that isn’t through this bank. The budgets are preset based on previous spending so there is no work to be done if your spending is the same every month. The option to edit the budgets exists so you are not locked into their preset budget. Opening this up to allow the import of other account information would make this soooo much better but overall not too shabby.
Cost: Free for Bank of America customers
Pros: Already has access to my Bank of America Account; Plans your budget for you based on previous spending
Cons: ONLY has access to my Bank of America Account
Mint is yet another financial tool that allows you to track what you’ve spent and budget in advance. This is a free resource that you can link to multiple accounts including banks, mortgage, student, and auto loans. This allows you to have a snapshot of your Net Worth be it negative or positive. Everything is in one place. You have the ability to view your Equifax credit score, set savings/payoff goals, pay bills, track your spending trends, and so much more. Mint is by far my favorite of all of the financial toys because it user friendly and literally allows you to do pretty much anything your little heart desires. If it wasn’t for the fact that sometimes Mint doesn’t update due to issues with pulling all of the account info in, I wouldn’t use anything else.
Pros: Options on top of options
Cons: Some account update delays due to errors syncing with outside accounts, Numerous Ads with suggestions for financing, refinancing, credit cards, and anything else you can think of.