While you might be asking yourself the question, how to budget and save money, you might think of the two as almost synonymous. In other words, the reason why you would budget is basically to save money.
Online budget tools
There are a number of good budgeting tools available online. I especially like Mint.com’s features. All you have to do is type in all your account numbers – for savings and checking accounts, investments, credit cards, loan and so forth. Mint.com will pull in all the information from these accounts so that you can see everything together. When you make a budget, Mint.com will send you alerts any time your spending exceeds the amount you budgeted for that category.
A second online budgeting site
Another online site that can help you budget and save money is Learnvest.com. It offers some very valuable tools and is designed to help you get out of debt (if you are in debt) and ace your taxes.
Some people, and you might be one of them, aren’t comfortable putting their financial information online. Both the sites discussed above say they are very secure but as we have seen, just about any site can be hacked.
Do you have a PC? There’s a great budgeting tool you could buy, download and use on your computer called You Need A Budget. The Mac world has the budgeting software iBank4, which is an outstanding program.
Get a Buddi
Both You Need A Budget and iBank4 are very feature rich tools and may have more “horsepower” than you really need. Plus, they are not cheap. As an alternative to these programs, there is Buddi, which is open source (free) software. Its developer describes Buddi as, “a personal finance and budgeting program designed for those who don’t have much of a financial background.
The saving money part
The major reason to budget is to save money. The way you do this is by finding areas where you can reduce your spending. You’ll probably have to track your spending for maybe a month so that you can see where your money’s going. Once you know that, you should be able to find areas where you can cut your spending and save money.
Have a goal
Most financial experts will tell you it’s a mistake to try to save money just for the sake of saving money. To be successful at budgeting and saving money, you really need to have goals. In fact you should have both short– and long–term goals. These goals are what will keep you motivated, keep you on budget and help you continue to save money. For example, your long term goal could be to buy a house while your short term goal might be to get out of debt. The important thing isn’t which goals you choose. It’s to have defined goals so every time you get through a month on your budget, you can see you’ve made progress towards fulfilling one of your goals. This feeling of accomplishment is what will keep you on budget and on track.