If you are one of the lucky few who manage to keep your personal finances in check, you'll know that precise money management is key.
Without some way of keeping a tab on your finances it's all too easy to be left with very little at the end of every month, or worse still further in debt.
It's not just about living within your financial limitations and saving, it's about keeping track of your personal finances, too. Traditional budgeting entails endless battles with mountains of receipts and spreadsheets, which often means the budget goes out the window after a few months. There are easier ways. Online budgeting sites are making it much easier for people to manage their finances without having to trawl through stacks of paperwork. They are available 24/7 at the click of a button, are often less time-consuming than traditional methods and many offer integration with your current online banking system.
When you're starting to budget, an online budgeting site can make it easier for you to manage your finances. You can have access to these sites 24/7 from wherever you are, and are often less time-consuming than traditional budgeting methods. Many of these sites also offer integration with your current online banking system.
Here are some of the top online budgeting sites* to get you started on your finance fitness journey.
Best online budgeting websites*
This site is a popular option because of its ease and use of intelligent money management capabilities. Mint.com manages all your checking, savings and credit cards as well as other investment accounts. It gives you the big picture of all of your finances and accounts. One drawback of this software is you have to provide your banking login information to the site so they can display your accounts. But the site is secure, all data is encrypted and the site uses a technology called ‘Yodle’ that drives the ‘My Portfolio’ on the Bank of America website. After you’ve set up all of your accounts you can enter a budget limit for each expenditure category. The site gives you options to set up alerts that email you when your bills are due or when your balance is low. The best part about the site is that it is absolutely free, making it a great option if you’re already struggling with overspending.
If you're sceptical about disclosing your private login data, Budgetpulse.com may be the best money tracker for you. It doesn't connect to any of your financial institutions to retrieve data, instead you need to enter your transactions manually, which then helps by analyzing expenses and suggests budgets. It also has a built-in dashboard that can display an overall summary of your financial data at any time. The data import and export facilities allow information to be generated into either graphical or spreadsheet form, and comes with some nifty advanced money management techniques, such as tagging transactions with multiple references to enhance tracking.
Although this is not free - it comes with a 30-day-trial period and then asks for a nominal fee of just $4.95 per month. This web-based budgeting site uses traditional envelope budgeting procedures, so may be a good option for those who can't quite give up the ways of the non-virtual world, just yet. It works by helping the user segregate cash for each spending category, but also takes into account irregular or unplanned spending. This tool can help by estimating the amount that needs to be saved every month for unexpected expenses, thereby avoiding the pitfalls of debt.
Initially designed to be an accessible site via web or phone, BudgetTracker has grown over the years to provide much more through user-generated feedback. This means those who use the site are always benefiting from the improvements. Clients can enter transactions as they happen and receive reminders via email or text to ensure they keep track of their payments. Services provided include, management of multiple checking accounts, savings and investment accounts, and now even small businesses are catered for. The bonus with BudgetTracker is that there is no direct link to your accounts so fear of a breach of security is ruled out.
If you're a financially-savvy young thing maybe you already know of the advantages of Buxfer? It's perfect for roommates and friends who want to keep check of their finances and avoid unnecessary fights over money, which happens all too often when people share accommodation. It also takes the worry out of getting into too much debt - a bonus for those at university or if you're trying to save for the big event in your life. Buxfer's tools can divide the rent and groceries, or work out miscellaneous expenses on your behalf, and what's more it can be accessed via iPhone and Facebook, allowing instant access to your accounts no matter where you are.
Irrespective of the tool you choose to manage your finances, always keep in mind that spending more than you've got will get you into trouble, if not now, some time in the future. Wise money management marks the pathway to a safe and secured financial future, but with the right online budgeting site you may find the route a lot easier.
More budgeting tips to help keep your finances under control
Most people cringe when they hear the word ‘budget’. They immediately begin thinking about a strict set of rules that won’t allow them to have any fun, and so most people avoid even thinking about it.
However, a budget is nothing more than a balance sheet to show how much income is coming into the household and how much you expect to spend on outgoing expenses. When you see these figures written down before you, it can make it much easier to keep track of your bills and help to manage your spending habits.
Important steps to a successful budget
Create a Budget
Now that you know a budget is nothing more than a balance sheet, sit down and create a realistic budget for your household. Include the total income that comes into the house and write down any bills, repayments and expenses you know you have to pay. If you regularly buy lunches for work, or eat out, or buy treats for yourself, write these down too. It's important to know where your money goes each week.
The list below will help to get your budget in place:
- Set a time frame.
- Work out your income.
- Work out your expenses.
- Calculate the difference.
- Tweak the budget at will.
- Update it.
Most simple budgeting tips should also tell you to include some funds for entertainment as part of your budget, so you'll always know how much you have aside to enjoy yourself.
Cut down on costs
Can you see any areas within your budget that you might reasonably cut down? This doesn't mean you need to cut out everything completely. It simply means finding ways to reduce the amount you spend on those items.
Fuel costs can eat into your available income, so is it possible to take public transport to work? Could you perhaps take a home-made lunch to work instead of buying it? Could you eat out a little less?
Only you know where you have space to cut down your costs within your budget. Be realistic about what you're cutting out.
Most people are paying for phones, Internet, TV and other technology charges that have become a part of everyday life. Always be sure you're not paying more than you really need to by shopping around for better deals.
Reduce interest costs
One of the more simple budgeting tips is to reduce how much you pay in interest charges on credit cards, personal loans or mortgages. If you're currently paying high interest rates on outstanding balances, shop around for a credit card provider that charges lower rates on balance transfers. Compare various offers to be sure you're getting a good deal and you'll be surprised how much money this could save you.
Remove expenses in advance
If you know you have repayments and bills that are due soon, remove these amounts from your income and keep them separate from your regular spending money. This will help to remove the temptation to spend this money and remind you that it's there to pay the bills first.
There are many effective, simple budgeting tips available, but it's important that you work out what's right for your financial situation as well as making sure you still leave some room to have a little fun and relaxation at the same time.