Using Online Tools to Manage a Household Budget

If household expenses seem to pile up each month out of nowhere and you find yourself struggling to make ends meet, it’s time to create a budget. Many consumers used to rely on financial planners and other professionals in order to get their finances in order, but today’s array of free online tools can save you money. Just as you would use real estate listings sites such as Homesales real estate to search for a home, you could now use personal finance sites to get your budget in check. These can help you with a number of tasks, from monitoring your credit rating to tracking expenses, to create a more sustainable household budget.

budget, household budgeting

Household Budgeting Programs

There are numerous websites out there dedicated to helping individual consumers develop and track their personal budgets. One option is PersonalCapital, which helps you set up a working budget, track your purchases, and monitor investments. You can choose to link your financial accounts to their tracking service, giving you a clear idea of investment performance and where your money is going. This can help you pick up on trends and adjust your budget accordingly. Another option is Mint, which has swiftly become one of the most popular personal finance tools on the internet. It’s easy to use, allowing you to link your checking, savings, and credit card accounts to get a visual breakdown of how you spend your money.

Another tool that uses a visual element to help you stick to a budget is MVelopes Personal. This simulates the act of putting money from your monthly pay into different envelopes. One envelope might be allocated to your current mortgage, one to your savings account, and one to a vacation or holiday home fund. That way, when you’re ready to find Perth real estate or pay for a getaway in Barbados, you’ll have a visual indicator of just how much money you’ve allocated to each expense.

Tools for Tracking Credit

Although you may not think about credit playing into your budget preparations, your credit rating is an important indicator of your overall financial health. You can gain access to an annual free credit report in the United States at AnnualCreditReport, with other countries offering similar services. Be sure to look your reports over for any errors, to improve your rating and keep your financial health on track. Another credit tracking service is CreditKarma, which offers free monthly updates on your credit status and advice on how to improve your score.

Spreadsheet Templates

You may or may not be a fan of accounting, but it can be useful to track your finances using programs like Microsoft Excel. This is particularly useful if you’re thinking about starting up a small business or if you have more complicated expenses.  With free templates online, you can input your expenses into a form that has already been set up for you, so you don’t need to be an Excel expert to stay on top of your budgeting. There are specific templates designed for business, personal, and even wedding budgeting. A service called Mactopia provides templates for Macintosh computers, allowing you to find something compatible to your needs.

With the array of online financial tracking tools, consumers are now able to stay on top of their budgeting and personal finance more easily. This gives you greater purchasing power in the future and can protect you from unexpected setbacks.

What are your favorite tips/templates that you use for your household budget?

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Tips for Organizing an Effective but Frugal Home Budget

Making a frugal home budget is an art and to accomplish this art, one needs to have an insight to the capability of handling the finances.  Organizing a frugal budget will not only be helpful to maintain a stable financial situation, but it will also indicate your financial prudence for the near future.

Steps toward making a frugal home budget

There are certain small, but effective tips which will enable to you to make a frugal home budget.  They are as follows:

  • Getting a clear idea of financial ability – It is the most important factor in making a frugal budget.  You should keep a close tab on your each single, whatever small it may be, income and keep it recorded on paper or in your computer.  Don’t ignore any amount if it is small.  Consult all the documents related to your income to make sure that you’re not overlooking any amount.  Similarly go through all of your expenses and all the necessary documents as your expense proof, so that you can enter every single amount to it.  To be precise, entering the correct information regarding your income and expenses will make your budgeting more accurate.  Some small expenses often remain unnoticed but at the end of the month prove to be a significant amount when summarized.  If you can grow the habit of jotting down your expenses, small or big on a piece of paper, and taking help of this record when listing your expenses, it will be great.  As a precaution, you should always use your take-home pay as your income, not the gross payment.  Because, you have to make your budget with the amount you have in your hand.  If you go with your gross pay as your income, you will be left with less amount of money to make budget, because taxes or other deductibles will be deducted beforehand.
  • Listing your income and expenses – Here you have to make two columns, one for income and other for expenses.  You can take help of the spreadsheet in your computer or you can do it on a piece of paper.  But keep the paper so that you can keep a close eye on your budget every month and can use it for comparison purpose.
  • Selection of variable and fixed entries – The bottom line of making a frugal budget is to maintain flexibility towards reducing an expense.  Every expense can’t be reduced.  Some of the expenses are fixed and others are variable.  If any change is needed to make, then only the variable expenses could be changed.  So it is important to select which expenses are variables and which are fixed and you can mark them in the list according to their nature.
  • Making final calculation – Now it is time for calculating the total income and total income.  If there is any deficit, you have to choose some variable expense to reduce.  Even in the case there is no such deficit, then also having a glimpse at the expense list makes you think that where you should be more judicious, it will be rewarding if you take precaution before it becomes a burden.

Keeping a frugal home budget and maintaining it require one to be organized and disciplined in the sense of handling his own finance.  This requirement, at the end of the day, ends up with him being more and more financially organized. This is the key for achieving financial stability and meeting the goals even in today’s unstable financial condition.

Author’s Bio – Sam Payn is a reputed finance blogger who writes for online finance communities like easyfinance.com. He has a wide reader base on the web.

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