Budgeting Apps: Money Management Made Easy
The financial tools available today make it easier than ever to manage your monthly budget. Financial management software is great when you’re sorting through a stack of bills in your home office, but what about when you’re on the go? In an increasingly mobile world, budgeting apps help you keep control of your finances no matter where you are.
Take Your Budget With You
Using a mobile app can save you time while you're busy saving money. Instead of collecting your receipts and entering them manually when you get home, use your smartphone or tablet to take snapshots of your receipts and upload them to your app. You can let your money keep track of itself by setting up purchase alerts, or check your balances at the touch of a button while you're out and about.
Setting Up Your App
Every budgeting app is a little bit different, but with Quicken, set up takes about 10 minutes. Just enter your banking details, bills and investments. As you input your account information, the app will check with the services you use to gather a lot more information, like your credit card interest rates and minimum payment requirements. From there, you can start keeping track of your transaction information in real time — whenever you buy something, enter it into the app.
Getting Started With Categories
Organizing your spending into categories makes it much easier to manage your budget. For example, if you use your ATM card at the grocery store, the Quicken app will automatically place that purchase in the "Dining” category, under “Groceries" (which you can edit if necessary). As the weeks go by, you'll be able to see how much of your money goes to your different spending categories simply by looking at the pie chart on your "Spending" home screen. And clicking on a category gives you a detailed list of all the places you spent your money. Change the time period displayed in the chart as necessary to track your expenses during different parts of the year. Check out at the past month to see where your money has been going recently, or take a look at the bigger picture by tracking your spending over the past year.
Remember to Leave Some Wiggle Room
According to Valrie Chambers, Associate Professor of Taxation and Accounting at Stetson University, "It's important to put a cushion in the budget for uncertainties. You won't have a financial setback every month, but you will have them, and if there's no room in the budget for those setbacks, they can be very demoralizing when they occur."
Each day, your budgeting app will add the money you’ve spent to the monthly total. Just click the "Budget Your Spending" option on the "Home" tab to see it. The bar graph illustrates how much of your monthly budget you have left, so it’s easy to see how much padding you have for emergencies. Make a commitment to reserve a comfortable amount of extra dollars in case you need that wiggle room after all.
Need more than one type of budget? No problem. A good finance app should be flexible enough to suit your changing needs. Use the advanced options in your Quicken app to create just about any type of budget. For example, if you own a rental property, you can set up a budget specifically for that. If you're going on vacation, create a vacation budget to ensure that you can afford big expenses like airfare and hotels.