We all know that having a budget is a great idea, but it can be really hard to keep up with a budget.
Keeping a budget can be hard work, especially if you have multiple accounts and credit cards to keep track of.
Fortunately, there are some great apps to make life easier for you.
You can also download my free budget sheet to get you started.
Which app you use depends on what you are looking to get out of your budget and how often you are going to update it.
I actually use a combination of 2 tools to track my budget.
I use an app to keep track of my spending on a daily and weekly basis. I have the app hooked up to my bank accounts so that transactions pull across automatically.
I use the app for a quick ‘snapshot’ view of how I am doing compared to my budget each week.
Read on to find out about what I use to compile my master monthly budget, but first of all, lets look at some of the apps that you can use to track your spending and budget.
If you live in the US, Personal Capital is absolutely the best app for managing your budget and tracking spending.
With Personal Capital, you can add in the details for all of your checking and credit card accounts and it will pull all of the data on your spending into one place for further analysis.
You can also use Personal Capital to track your investment accounts and net worth, making it a truly all in one tool.
Personal Capital will allow you to set a budget for different categories of spending and then monitor your progress in real time.
In fact, the free budgeting tool on Personal Capital is now so great, that many people are switching away from paid apps Mint and Quicken to use the free tools offered by Personal Capital.
Personal Capital does offer investment advice and is a SEC registered investment advisor, but you only use this service if you want to. There is absolutely no obligation to use the advice service and many people just use the free budgeting tools and net worth tracker without paying a cent.
The only downside (and I do mean the only one) is that, at present, Personal Capital only works in the US. If you are in the UK, Canada, or elsewhere, you will need to look for a different solution.
I have tried a ton of personal finance and budgeting apps. Some of them are great and some are really, really bad.
The best app for people in the UK to track their daily spending and budgets is Yolt.
Yolt is a free app which is owned by the people behind ING bank.
Setting up Yolt is really simple. Just download the app and create an account. Once logged in, you then tell Yolt where your banking and credit card accounts are help, punch in your credentials and then Yolt goes to work on collecting all of your transaction data.
After a few minutes, Yolt will present you with a clean view of your recent transactions and it even categorises them for you based on the retailer. So Starbucks goes in lunch, McDonalds in eating out etc.
Yolt also learns as you go along. If you don’t want McDonalds to go in eating out, perhaps preferring this to also sit in the lunch category, just tell Yolt to move it once and it will then move all similar transactions for you. Simple.
I use Yolt to get a quick snapshot of my spending at various times throughout the week. This tells me at a glance how I am doing compared to my budget and where I am under or overspending.
This is all I need to see on a daily or weekly basis.
There is one app I use to track my ‘master budget’ on a monthly and then yearly basis.
It’s so important to consider your budget on a yearly basis as well as weekly or monthly.
There are some expenses that only happen periodically. Christmas, car repairs, birthday gifts – these are all things that we spend money on, but they don’t happen every week or month.
As such, it is important to track these items on your yearly budget so you can see what you are spending overall.
The app I use for these things is amazing. It let’s me see at a glance where all of my money is going over the whole year. I can also compare my spending to last year or any other period for that matter.
Are you ready to hear about this amazing app.
This genius budget tracking masterpiece is called …. Excel.
Yes, that’s right.
Because most of my financial accounts are not in the US, I can’t use Personal Capital for everything (I wish I could though, believe me).
Until Personal Capital expands the full service to the UK, I use an Excel spreadsheet to track my monthly and yearly budget.
Using Excel to track your budget is great for many reasons:
Unlike all of the other budget tracking apps out there, that have limitations on their feature set, with the right knowledge, you can get Excel to do almost anything you can imagine.
I actually find the manual entry of my spending into Excel quite useful. It makes me go through all of my expenses each month and really think about where my money has gone.
Although I find Yolt to be great for a quick glance during the week, I don’t get the same sense of connection to my finances as I do when I’m manually entering the data in Excel.
I love setting goals and tracking my progress. You can use excel to set goals and then create a colourful graph or chart to monitor your progress.
It can take some time to get an Excel budget set up. Fortunately for you, you can pick up the Millennial Mutiny Master Budget Spreadsheet right here.
The Master Budget Spreadsheet has your whole yearly budget all laid out for you. It also includes a net worth tracker and an early retirement calculator to help you work out how much you need to retire.