Getting the greatest return on your income and putting aside some money into your savings can seem a daunting task for some. But I have a secret for you: budgeting doesn’t have to be hard.
There are hundreds of budgeting programs available on the market today for every day use. These money-managing programs will provide you with the basic functions of entering your cash inflow and outflow, and categories of money-spending. Good programs will even present you with an analysis of your spending behaviors. Getting even more technological, some can track when your bills are due and if you’ve paid them and, if you really got a good program, offer you a tax draft that will ensure that you wont miss out on any dues or deductibles when it gets down to crunch time.
Computer software isn’t the only budgeting tools you can utilize, however. Coupons are an amazing money-saving tool that too many people overlook. Almost every store and magazine in the country have coupons available to you to earn you discounts on products that you were probably going to buy anyway. Generally, people don’t get too excited about saving $1, but look at it this way: the average American family of 4 spends roughly $600 a month on groceries. Assuming they go shopping once a week and use 2 $1-off coupons per trip, that’s a savings of over $100. It may not seem like much, but $100 can get you that haircut you’ve been putting off. Heck, you could even through in a few highlights!
Lists are another important budgeting tool. Whether you keep it on a piece of paper, your computer, or your PDA, lists will help you keep focused on what you set out to buy and keep you from drifting off to other unnecessary purchases. Prior to making your regular grocery trip, write down the weeks menu and figure out from there what groceries you need to make that happen. Next, add on various other household items that you need or will need before the week is through. Armed with these lists, you are now able to go to the grocery store to get exactly what you wanted, without getting distracted by all the fancy aisle displays.
A filing system is one of the best budgeting tools your home can have. With simple file folders, you can track your bills, receipts, bank documents, and whatever other financial documents you might need with barely a thought. By ordering these by type and date, it makes tax time that much easier.
The most effective budgeting tools are those that address your specific needs. Sometimes that means you shouldn’t settle for just one, and sometimes that means you should shop around. Don’t stop looking for the best budgeting tool until you find one that does exactly what you want it to do and more.
Are you ready to budget but having trouble getting everything in order? The 20-Minute Finance Fixer is a great way to get the ball rolling.