Get on top of your spending with a free budget planner.
Budgeting is difficult and unfortunately it doesn't get any easier as you get older and your financial commitments grow. Luckily in the digital age we live in there are a range of free budget planners that can help you get your finances under control. Free budgets planners are great online tools that can help you understand your financial position and make it stronger.
Why do you need a budget?
For a lot of people, organising their finances isn't a top priority. Perhaps it's because they're dealing with bigger problems, or they just keep pushing their budgets further down their to do lists. But even if you would describe your finances as 'just fine', there is always room for improvement. Budgets can help you see areas where you are spending too much or even reveal opportunities for savings. Budgets give you a detailed understanding of the health of your finances and ways to improve it.
- Family budgets
The bigger a family, the bigger their expenses. Families have a variety of incomes and expenses which need to be understood and managed. By using an online budget planner you can divide both your income of your partner's between the expenses of your family, including groceries, medical, insurance and of course entertainment. By understanding how your money is being spent you may find ways to save and you may even be able to afford a better car or a longer holiday. When you have a family things are never neat, especially when it comes to finances, but you can try to make accurate estimates of your expenses for a period of time and allow for unexpected costs. It's important to plan for long term events, such as sending your children to school or even just the cost of Christmas presents and a budget planner can help you to do that.
- Business budgets
Whether you are a small business owner, a partner in a firm or simply an employee, free budget planners can help you manage your business expenses. For business owners, the benefits are obvious. Successful business ventures involve meticulous planning and financial controls, all of which can be achieved by using a budget planning tool. You may become aware of expenses that were more than you planned, or you may see opportunities to save money. If you are trying to attract investors to your business they will want to see evidence of financial planning and controls, all of which you can manage using online budget planners. If you're an employee you can also manage and keep track of business expenses using free budget planners, making your life easier when it comes time for tax.
- Budgets for singles
When you are in a single-income household or only have yourself to worry about, then it is easy to fall into the trap of not budgeting. It seems like an easy option and if you are the only one affected from poor planning then it seems more manageable. It's common for individuals to only worry about savings when they have something to save for, like a holiday or a car. But you will be in a stronger financial position and may have access to those larger items sooner if you use online budget planners. Budgeting is a lot easier when it is only for one person and if you use these tools to plan your spending you can tailor it to suit your lifestyle. Having a budget will also give you a better idea of your financial situation and help you plan for your long term goals.
Where can I find a free budget planner?
There are a range of free budget planners available to use, most being available online or as a mobile app. If you have an Apple phone, be sure to check the App store and if you're an Android user you'll want to browse through the Play Store. If you want access to a budget planner online through your desktop computer or laptop, a quick web search will bring up planners from banks, the government and more.
Preparing your budget
Budget planners are all different, but they all generally need you to put in the same information. It is helpful to look at your income and expenses over a whole year, although most budget planners have monthly or weekly options available to suit your budgeting needs.
Your income includes your salary, part time or casual wages, your government benefits, child support payments and any money from investments. Your income is variable, but you can use last year's earnings to estimate.
Your expenses include regular repayments such as your rent or home loan, phone and electricity bills and car or public transport costs. If you are unsure of your expenses you can look at your bank statements, credit card statements, receipts and shopping dockets.
There are a variety of free budget planners available, so pick the one that best suits your lifestyle. For example, if you are always on the go and want an easy way to track expenses, you should probably use a mobile budgeting app, but if you want to print out your budget you should ensure your budgeting tool allows for this.
Using your budget planner
It's good to keep track of your continuing expenses once you have made your budget, either by printing it out or continuing to keep track of it online or on the app you're using. The longer you keep track of your spending, the more you will discover in your patterns of spending. The best way you can do this is to cut back on the extras or divide your income into more specific categories, such as setting aside specific expenses for a range of leisure activities like dinner or movies.
If you are using your budget for your business, you will need to keep a good record of expenses and you may want to have a more meticulous review of spending for business purposes. It's also common for expenses to increase as businesses grow, so you will need to review your budget regularly and account for changes to your financial situation. It's a good idea to redo or review your budget every three to six months or if you have a significant change in your income or expenses, for example if your rent increases or if you get a raise at work. Once you get into the habit of tracking your spending and saving you will be naturally more inclined to think over your financial choices.
What to do if…
- You have money left over
If you have managed to save money with your budget, first of all, make sure you can stick to it. If your budget shows a surplus you may want to let it sit for a month and see how manageable your budget is to stick to. If you've budgeted correctly and can maintain the surplus, there are many options for extra cash. You can choose to put it into a high interest savings account, you could look into investing, or even think about making your own super contributions. If you are in a business, you may want to consider ways to spend it to help the business.
- You're spending more than you can afford
The good thing about budgeting is that you can pick out your financial errors and then work towards fixing them. Firstly, check your budget to make sure you have all of your amounts correct and then check your expenses to see if there's anything you can reduce. If you are worried about debts, you may want to talk to a financial advisor or your bank who will be able to help you manage your finances.
Planning for your financial future is important for anyone, whether they are part of a business or planning for their own or their family's future. Free budget planners make this process simpler and can help you gain control of your finances.