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Last Updated on January 2, 2020

Top 5 Spending Tracker Apps to Manage Your Budget Smart in 2020

Top 5 Spending Tracker Apps to Manage Your Budget Smart in 2020

Managing your budget can seem dull or just not an important concept at all. However, in the world we live in, we have to survive by being financially savvy. It is very easy to swipe a debit or credit card when we are at a restaurant, shopping at the mall, or ordering merchandize on Amazon.

Whether you like or despise finance, it is indirectly part of your life. Everything you do has to do with mathematics. Meaning, it has to do with numbers, so get acquainted with them.

If you are person who stresses out a lot and checks frequently their online banking, do not panic. There are super-friendly and easy-to-use apps that will break down your expenses in an intuitive way.

The next sections will outline spending tracker apps that will alleviate your worries, anxiety and obsessions of how to organize your money.

1. Mint

    Mint was founded in 2006, and is an award-winning service. It offers a comprehensive experience that is free, fast and super easy.

    The capabilities include budgeting tools, alerts, credit scores, mobile support and compatible with Apple Watch. The support is limited to the United States and Canada accounts.

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    Overall, it is a personal finance service with a wide range of resources to users who can track their spending and budgeting, which will calculate your net worth.

    Your net worth is calculated by connecting all of your online finance accounts and verifying your credit score.

    Get Mint here!

    2. YNAB

      YNAP stands for You Need a Budget and was founded in 2004. It is a great and personal budgeting app that is built on a solid approach.

      It is deemed flexible, and offers users educational tutorials to manage finances in a coherent manner. Also, it has a great web interface.

      However, it takes time to learn the platform. And this spending tracker is relatively expensive and has no free versions.

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      Get YNAB here!

      3. Mvelopes

        Mvelopes was founded in 1999. It utilizes a principles of personal finance budgeting and based on the envelope system of allocated spending. It can also roll-over monthly budgeting, which is supported.

        As a user, you can get personalized forecasts and suggestions on how to manage your financial situation. This means, you will be advised on not to make frequent purchases at the mall or on Amazon.

        Ultimately, it helps you the consumer put savings or envelopes away, so you can have financial freedom.

        The drawbacks, however, are that it is time-consuming to get up and running. The interface is dated and the cost of upgrading is not clear with different premium versions.

        Get Mvelopes here!

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        4. Personal Capital

          Personal Capital was founded in 2009 and it is a billion dollar company. The service is regarded as one of the most popular financial management platforms. The app has a free, Free Financial Dashboard, and a paid, Wealth Management Service.

          The pros of the app are budgeting and investment management are all available in one platform. In addition, it includes investment tracking and socially responsible investing.

          But for Wealth Management, it requires solicitation, high fees and has limited budgeting capabilities.

          Get Personal Capital here!

          5. Quickbooks

            Quickbooks was launched in 1992 on the IBM on Microsoft DOS and Apple’s Macintosh. The software accounting program comes in various versions and editions for small to medium-sized businesses.

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            It can be managed from anywhere at anytime, and it is very easy user-friendly. It can help organize everything from your books, manage expenses, send invoices, track inventory and run payroll.

            Beyond the expense tracking, Quickbooks has been adopted by lots of different companies across every industry you can imagine. So this app is particularly recommended for any business owners.

            Get Quickbooks here!

            The Bottom Line

            When it comes to managing your money, it is important to become educated and financially responsible. The messages we are bombarded all around us are constantly associated with spending, and buying. Nevertheless, the messages we should be getting have nothing to do with saving you money.

            Before making unnecessary expenses and purchases, read the fine print. All of these services have free or paid versions to assist you with your money-saving schemes.

            Ask a lot of questions before making any commitments. Search up free financial consultants or advisors to get a sense of where to invest and not spend your money.

            It is very easy to get in debt, so do not live on credit cards unless you can afford to pay them. Use these apps to live within your means and allocate savings in safe investments that will help you in the longterm.

            Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

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            Anthony Carranza

            Multilingual writer and journalist covering all things technology and productivity.

            10 Smart Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance 7 Clever Goal Tracker Apps to Keep You on Track in 2020 11 Google Chrome Apps & Features for Getting More Done with Less Effort Top 5 Spending Tracker Apps to Manage Your Budget Smart in 2020 10 Best Productivity Tools to Get You More Time in 2020

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            Last Updated on September 2, 2020

            How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

            How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

            Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

            In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

            4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

            Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

            1. Be Clear About the Objectives

            Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

            It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

            Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

            2. Keep Goals Realistic

            It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

            It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

            3. Account for Inflation

            Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

            Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

            For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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            4. Short Term Vs Long Term

            Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

            As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

            By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

            How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

            Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

            • Ensuring healthy savings
            • Making smart investments

            You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

            Ensuring Healthy Savings

            Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

            This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

            1. Track Expenses

            The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

            Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

            If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

            2. Pay Yourself First

            Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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            Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

            The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

            Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

            3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

            Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

            Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

            At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

            Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

            You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

            4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

            In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

            Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

            • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
            • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
            • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

            The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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            5. Talk About It

            Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

            Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

            6. Maintain a Journal

            For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

            If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

            When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

            Making Smart Investments

            Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

            1. Consult a Financial Advisor

            Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

            Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

            2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

            Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

            Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

            As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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            3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

            Einstein once remarked about compounding:

            “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

            Use compound interest when setting financial goals

              Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

              Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

              4. Measure, Measure, Measure

              All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

              If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

              Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

              The Bottom Line

              Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

              and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

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              Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

              Reference

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