We don’t always have the same approach to budgeting, but we all want our budgets to be effective. The fundamental parts of a budget don’t often change, but the way we choose to track and save are completely up to us. Let’s consider some budget tools we have access to that can help us achieve our goals.
Your Bank’s Website is a Start
Many banks have adapted to the demand of their customers and savvy mobile apps, so they created their own online bill pay, expense tracking, and budgeting functions and built them into their websites as an online account feature.
Finding the budget tools to complement your goals can make your tracking and goal-setting a breeze.
One perk to using your bank’s website as the core of your budget tracking is not having to link and confirm your bank accounts to an app, sharing more sensitive information to yet another company, and agreeing to terms that you didn’t have time to finish reading. In other words, you lessen the number of sites with access to your sensitive information and you are more in control of what they do with the knowledge of your spending habits.
You Need a Budget
If your bank doesn’t have all the features you’d like in a tracking system for your budget, then there are a couple really great mobile applications to choose from. Forbes has touted the You Need a Budget App (YNAB) as being one of the most popular choices in the app stores, and for good reason. Not only does the YNAB app span across smartphones, smart watches, computers, and voice, it also offers free webinars to educate their customers. Their workshop webinars touch on topics like the basics of budgeting, how to handle overspending, and saving money on groceries.
A very relevant feature of this app that people may not initially value, is the bank-grade or better encryption of your data. This company has many compliance certifications and explains the process of protecting every customer’s data here.
This is an incredibly valuable topic when we consider how many times we are logging into our applications and viewing our account activity, only to be on a phone that hasn’t had its software update and is currently using an open public wifi connection. Mitigating those risks while utilizing the tools within the YNAB app itself are sure to create the most favorable outcomes.
Another great option for budgeting on-the-go is Mint. It may not have the webinars or voice compatibilities like YNAB, but it’s still a powerhouse of a budget app. It has a beautiful display of insights for your accounts and can help you with more advanced topics like investments and retirement funds. Mint is owned by Intuit, which also owns Quicken and Quickbooks. All three are incredibly secure (offering the same level of encryption as YNAB) and provide really great tools for money management.
Tried and True
The last budget tool that may suit you, more so than the attractive interfacing of an app or the convenience of your bank’s website, is old reliable- the spreadsheet. Perhaps you don’t want to link your account to any other apps. You may feel like it still isn’t as involved as you would prefer, when it comes to having your hands in your budget.
Sometimes people just want to go analog and view their budget in black and white, literally. They’d prefer to create their own columns and rows, categories, and manually enter their expense tracking because it is the kind of self-awareness and accountability they need. It’s also simplistic. And while the apps create less of a headache with tracking since they integrate with our bank accounts and other lines of credit, they don’t have the same hands-on experience of a homemade spreadsheet.
*This article is opinion only and should not be taken as financial advice. The information is general and has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.