Track Your Spending Habits With a Money-Management App
Money management is probably at the forefront of your mind.
While everyone should have a long-term plan for their investments, yours will do you no good if you aren’t also watching your money on a day-to-day basis. You should have a monthly budget, spending categories with soft and hard caps, and a system to keep track of it all and rein in your spending. If you don’t have responsible spending habits, you don’t have responsible saving habits; it’s that simple.
There are a multitude of technologies that can help you pay attention to your spending budgets. These include money-management apps on your mobile phone or banking websites that let you categorize your expenditures for easier totaling, among other things.
For most of us, keeping a close eye on our spending is all it takes to make more responsible money decisions. When you have to notice every dollar as it comes in and goes out, the awareness of your accounts creates its own incentive to spend carefully. It’s the same principle behind calorie counting: Even if you don’t adopt any special diet, having all the information in front of you — and the awareness of how many minutes of exercise it takes to balance out that one candy bar — will tug you gently in the direction of prudent decision-making.
Here are a few of our few favorite daily money-management hacks.
Financial guru Dave Ramsey has plugged this iPhone app (there is not yet an Android version). It’s simple, yet elegant and effective. After installing it, you create a monthly budget on the app’s corresponding website. You link it to your various credit, debit, savings and investment accounts, and the app tracks your expenditures proportionate to your budgets. When you spend money in a category, the app shows you how much you have left to spend for the month.
For one-time or annual expenditures, EveryDollar has you create a Fund that’s paid into every month and then zeroes out when the expenditure is made. The basic version of EveryDollar is free. If you get the premium version of the app, you can drag and drop transactions from your bank to one of your budgets, making it easier to ensure that every expenditure is properly accounted for.