When it comes to be financially successful, everything begins with the budget. With a functioning budget, you see exactly where your money is going and where you need to cut back. It is essential that you have a budget. Even though knowing how important a budget is, many put off creating one. In many cases, they get frustrated by the budget they are trying to stick to. Fortunately with technology, there are endless options when it comes to budgets. Here are just a few examples.
The Old School Budget
The Old School Budget is a manual budget you can create in Excel. It is completely customizable for your needs and tastes. It can be as detailed as you want it to be. I’ve gone this route for many years and love it. In fact, the first version of my Excel budget is very different than its current version. That is why I love it so much ñ I can change it as I see the need.
If you aren’t skilled in Excel, have no fear. There are many free Excel budget templates available online. All you have to do is search to find the right one for you. I suggest you just look for a bit, even if you find one you love. When I originally did this, I found a great one. But then more searching led me to discover a feature that the first one didn’t offer. Take the time to look around and make note of what you want in your budget.
The 21st Century Budget
There are many, many apps and programs that will budget for you. From PowerWallet and Mint, to You Need A Budget, there are endless choices when it comes to budgeting. The great thing about these programs is that all of the set up work is done for you. You link up your bank accounts and the program does the rest. All you need to do is set categories. Many times, you’ll be up and running within 10 minutes.
The downside is that many of the apps and programs are not customizable to a large extent. What you see is pretty much what you get. This can be great for those that don’t want a lot of flexibility, but a pain for those that do.
Again, I would stress you research a handful of these out before jumping in. Many are free; some charge you a download fee to buy. The nice thing though is that many of the ones that require a payment offer a free 30 day trial.
The No-Budget Budget
The No-Budget Budget is a great option for many. With this option, you don’t assign categories and spending amounts. Instead, you assign saving goals. For example, let’s say I want to save $200 per month. I set up automatic transfers of $200 to my savings accounts each month. Whatever is left over in my checking account, I am free to spend.
Understand that you will not have any idea where your money is going each month, but the key is that you are saving. This type of budget works because many people spend first and save whatever is left over. Most times the amount that is left over is $0 which means they don’t save anything that month.
Understand that with the No-Budget Budget you can only spend what is in your checking account. You cannot be charging things to your credit card and going into debt each month.
I only mentioned 3 categories of budgets, but there are many more options within these categories and I am certain you will find one that works for you. And that is the key ñ find a budget that works for you. When you do, you will be more likely to stick to it than you would if you just pick a random budget that doesn’t fit your needs and goals. Make budgeting fun and enjoyable and you will be more successful with it.
Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always preferred to do my budgeting manually, rather than use something like Mint, for the very reason you mentioned, the lack of flexibility, and so Excel is more than enough.
I personally use the old school budget.
I tried using many pre-made budget tools, apps and spreadsheets. However, none of them were customisable enough for my taste. Equally, I tried to make an Excel template for other people to give away free on moneystepper.
However, I just couldn’t make it generic enough to be actually useful for everyone.
I’m very much a fan of creating my own spreadsheets for managing my money. However, this sometimes includes complex formulas, macros, etc to ensure that it is efficient. Therefore, many people less spreadsheet savvy may find this less useful.
This is great. The best budget is always the one that works for you and it’s terrific that you’re offering choices. One thing I suggest for people is to try a tougher one first, though. It’s easier to scale back effort than build it up
YNAB is my budget tool of choice. I’ve actually found that it is very customizable, and in my opinion, easier to use than Excel. It does have a bit of an entry hurdle, though — at $60, it’s pricy for a software that’s supposed to be about saving money. Sales are somewhat frequent, though.
I’m better at setting a x amount of savings goal and hitting it. That limits our spending.
I current have a no-budget budget. I keep my bills money in a second checking account and leave a certain amount for food, gas, and entertainment spending in my main checking account. As long as I don’t spend more than that, I’m good!
I think for people who are just getting started with budgets and spending cuts, a No-Budget Budget would be a good choice because they don’t have to get into the over-whelming intricacies of recording and allotting every dollar spent. At the same time, seasoned personal financial planners would be better off creating automated excel spreadsheets that do everything you want, except send out payments for you. So you’re right, it all depends on the person using the budgeting tool.
I am a huge fan of automatic budgeting tools like mint.com. I love that I don’t have to enter in every dollar I spend. It isn’t a perfect tool but it does a lot of the work for you. I’m somewhat new to your blog, what is your preferred budgeting technique?
I’am still doing the old school type of making my budget tally. I prefer using it because ever since I’ve been using that and I am used to that. I can directly monitor my savings and consumption using excel in my tally.
I use the budget in the book Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi wrote (2005). It split the fixed expenses, include savings here, and left the rest to spend. Sometimes there were some good ideas ‘back then.’