As parents, it’s important to keep our finances in check. Apart from utility bills and mortgage payments, we also need to reserve some cash for recreation and emergencies. Throw tax dues into the fray and you will be swimming in numbers. But hey, we all need to do it because we simply cannot risk throwing away our hard-earned money.
For most parents, it is the process of tracking how much money flows in and out of the bank. You have to gather receipts and balance your budget so you have a clear picture of the amount of cash you have on hand. It does get tedious, but with a little help from the right tools and methods, you can keep tabs on your budget and make decisions that save you a lot of money.
Here are just five of the best ways to track your budget:
1. Use a budget app
Let’s start our list with personal budget apps. Monefy, EveryDollar, and YNAB are some of the best tools you can use to track your expenses. They can be linked with your bank account so you can get a real-time view of how much money is in your account. Other apps can also take it a step further by providing advice based on your monthly spending habits, measuring your credit score, and even channelling a portion of your monthly income straight into a savings account. Using a budget app is as basic as it gets, but it’s a good start if you want to start saving for the future.
2. Set up a digital spreadsheet
If you want to come up with a more detailed way to track your budget, then using a spreadsheet is the right way to go — that is, if you don’t mind creating formulas and building a custom budget tracker from scratch. But if you are able to get the hang of it, you’ll find it rewarding, especially if you juggle between personal and business accounts. On the other hand, you can use ready-made spreadsheet trackers that are available for download. Sure enough, you will find the best monthly budget templates you can customize and use right away.
3. Go traditional with envelopes
Not many people will appreciate digital budget tracking tools, but they have very appropriate uses; the risk of data theft and corruption being one. If you want a more secure way to keep your spending in control, the envelope method is ideal. It’s simple, you prepare several envelopes that are labeled for each expense category, from transportation to food deliveries. You put some cash in each envelope and you try to spend according to the amount of cash allocated for every category. This should help keep you from spending too much on shopping sprees and karaoke nights since you only get to use what’s inside each envelope.
4. Record using a personal planner
Though it doesn’t have the features you can find in budget apps and spreadsheets, a planner should help you plot out your weekly and daily finances. If you are the type who would prefer using a journal, then you can either buy one from the local bookstore or download templates from websites about personal finance.
Which method is right for you? Give each one a try until you pick the method you’re most comfortable with.