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The Right Budget Planning Tools for You
There’s no single budget planning tool that’s right for everyone. And if you’re keeping a budget, which is a fantastic way to stay in control of your money, then you want to choose the right budget planning tools for you.
When you have the best budget planning tools for your needs and style, you’re more likely to create a good budget – and to stick to it as well. Trying a few different methods out may be worth it to find out which ones work best.
What’s Your Budget Planning Style?
Some people prefer pen and paper while others prefer to get and stay organized digitally. It’s not uncommon for people to use both paper and digital planning (like myself).
You might first create a quick budget on paper and then transfer it to your digital software or spreadsheet. That’s fine too. What’s important here is to know what works for you and to apply that style to your budget planning system.
Pen and Paper Options
If you’re a pen and paper person, there are many budget planning tools you can utilize. They include (but are not limited to):
- Templates – You can find an abundance of budget templates online or create your own in MS Office or any program you choose. You can print them out for the year, three-hole punch them and keep them in a handy three-ring budget binder. Or you can grab my favorite planner here that not only includes a budgeting binder but also other printables to help organize your life.
- Handmade – Another method is to simply make a list each month of your budget categories on a piece of paper. You might use a composition book to keep your monthly budget organized and accessible. This is the easiest way to get started!
- Spreadsheet – If you prefer pen and paper, but you want the functionality of the software, you might utilize a simple spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. You can create categories and columns to keep your information organized, and you can copy the information onto next month’s worksheet to make each month’s budget creation quick and easy. Once your budget worksheet has been created, print it out, punch it and place it in a three-ring budget binder. Want an Excel spreadsheet that’s already created for you? Download one from Mint.com here. They have a bunch of different options, so you are sure to find one you like. Keep reading to find out more about spreadsheets in the next section.
We live in a digital age, which means if you prefer digital budget planning then you have an abundance of choices.
- Spreadsheets – The same spreadsheet you printed out can be left on your computer and used digitally. In fact, you can create simple equations to calculate your monthly overages and extra cash. You can grab free Microsoft Excel Budget Templates right from Microsoft. Vertex42 and Google Drive template gallery also have some really nice free budget spreadsheets you can download or you can use one of my all time favorite budget spreadsheets called the Budget Planner from Simple Planning. Check out the free demo on their site to see why I love it.
- Software – Budgeting software helps you create and stick to a spending plan. Budget software often involves a bit of a learning curve, but usually, have other personal finance features for managing your money built in. Mint.com, Learnvest, Budgetpulse, MoneyWell and YNAB (You Need a Budget) are just a few you can use.
- Budgeting APPS – If you utilize a smartphone for most of your planning, you might enjoy one of the many budgeting apps available. These applications allow you to track your budget in real time and enter expenses as they’re incurred. Mint, Mvelopes, Goodbudget, and Moneywell Express are a few options to consider.
The most important consideration is following through with your budget planning. Find a budget planning tool that is not only easy for you to set up but is also one that you’ll use every day. A budget only works if you use it and even if you just start out with that piece of paper and write down a budget, then that’s progress.
What budget planning tools do you use? Please share in the comments below.