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5 Budgeting Tips That You Should Never Miss

5 Budgeting Tips That You Should Never Miss

Who doesn’t want to feel more comfortable, less stressed out and be able to afford occasional luxuries, like travel, gadgets or some nice clothes?

Your finances can impact all areas of life, and can even put an unnecessary strain on your love life, so it is a good idea to learn a few useful things about effective budgeting. Living within one’s means isn’t all that difficult, nor does it require huge sacrifices – you just need to be realistic, ambitious and motivated to make some positive changes. Let’s look at some practical examples of things you can do to put a rein on your finances and start being more strategic with your spending.

1. Focus on prevention rather than the cure when it comes to maintenance costs

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Car broke down

    You see people do this with their health, their home and their car – they neglect regular maintenance and make do, until the moment something goes terribly wrong and they are forced to remedy the problem quickly. The problem here is that if you allow a small problem to grow out of control, you can end up spending a whole lot of money trying to fix it.

    Let’s say your car is chugging along just fine, but you’re not the first owner and have had it for a while. You may notice small problems creeping in if you just do some regular car maintenance, like replacing worn down parts, changing the oil and having a general checkup from time to time. These principles can be applied to any aspect of life – regular maintenance is a huge money-saver in the long run.

    2. Make sure to pay yourself for all the hard work you do

    Sometimes finding a bit of extra money in your budget that you can stash away is just a matter of perspective. Don’t see it as taking some money away from a salary that already has to cover plenty of expenses, think of it as paying yourself for the amazing job you do every single day. As financially savvy people have pointed out before, establishing that your comfort and financial security are a priority makes it easier to justify saving a decent part of your total income.

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    It can be as simple as taking about 5% of your income off the top as soon as you get your paycheck and putting it in a savings account. You can make such payments automatic, which is easier than always trying to resist temptations, and you can slowly increase the amount you set aside as you get more experienced with managing your budget.

    3. When you need something done, do it yourself

    Home repairs

      While certain goods and services are fairly complex and well beyond our own skill level, with many things paying top dollar is more about convenience than anything else. If you buy in bulk, look for sales and cook your own food you can save a substantial amount of money, but it will require some effort on your part.

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      In the same vein, if you devote some of your time and energy towards developing some basic DIY skills, you can take a few fairly inexpensive supplies and make whatever you need. Taking the time to learn how to do some basic repairs yourself is also a good idea. Creating a small monthly DIY budget allows you to stock up on supplies and tools needed for all the crafting and repairs you’ll be doing.

      4. Keep your monthly budget flexible and you won’t break the bank

      Now, as far as your income, in a majority of cases it stays the same throughout the year or is at least fairly consistent. This means that you either have to make some more on the side or rearrange your finances from month to month to face new challenges or afford certain luxuries without having to dip into your emergency fund or stall your savings.

      The simplest way of going about it is to do some budget fine tuning – e.g. if you want to buy a new TV or a fancy pair of shoes, you may have to eat out a couple of times less. Some expenses pop up every two or three months and some are seasonal, so you will have to divert funds from other areas during those periods.  The story of John Steinert, a man in his mid-twenties who is just about to pay off all his student loans and is on a good track to retiring before sixty, shows that you can manage to live comfortably while saving, just as long as you have a good plan and keep things flexible.

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      5. Expect the unexpected costs

      Injured Piggy Bank WIth Crutches

        Last, but certainly not the least, you have to have some kind of buffer, which allows you cover unexpected costs without needing to take out a loan or raid your primary savings account. As we already noted, regular maintenance costs should be covered by your monthly budget – e.g. problems with your car’s engine or a serious case of mold in the attic fall under maintenance costs as they are something you should expect to deal with from time to time.

        Unexpected costs include things like a long hospital stay due to injury, a friend announcing that he or she is getting married out of the bloom, theft, your phone falling down a flight of stairs and breaking, etc. Chances of things like this happening are not that high, but there are plenty of little things that can go horribly wrong, and you need an emergency fund separate from your main savings account to help you deal with these problems as painlessly as possible.

        Applying these tips in your day-to-day life will help you cover the broad strokes of your financial planning, but it is ultimately up to you to set priorities and fine tune your budget. With a bit of luck, you’ll be well on your way to achieving financial stability in the next couple of years.

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        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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        Last Updated on January 2, 2019

        How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

        How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

        Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

        Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

        Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

        This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

        Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

        What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

        Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

        When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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        How It Leads to Financial Improvement

        It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

        Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

        Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

        It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

        Types of Personal Finance Software

        When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

        Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

        For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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        Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

        When to Use Personal Finance Software

        So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

        Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

        1. You Have Multiple Accounts

        There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

        If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

        Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

        2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

        Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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        There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

        With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

        3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

        Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

        Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

        Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

        4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

        Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

        You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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        How to Get Started

        From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

        Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

        It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

        When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

        Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

        Final Thoughts

        Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

        In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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