Each month I teach the credit and the spending plan section of a home buying education class for a local nonprofit. I talk about paying yourself first and knowing how much money you have coming in etc., etc. I never really talk about all the great tools out there to help you stay on track or the tools to use in conjunction with a spending plan. So I decided to take the chance here to talk about some of the tools that I like to use and some that my clients have used, too.
The first is the bill pay system. Most of the mainstream financial intuitions have this service available. Bill pay should not be confused with automatic bill pay which allows a payee to withdraw directly from your account. Bill pay is designed to take the place of writing checks. It also gives the accountholder control of when the bill will be paid, the amount paid, and the frequency of the payment. It is a great way to create a paper trail of how often you have paid your bills.
There are tons of ways out there to lay out your budget– for you left brained people that like to use the formulas, there is Excel. If you want to keep your budget on your smartphone, there are apps like Mint, TOSHL Finance or ispending (which are all freeJ.) These apps are great for the person that loves pie charts and graphs. But for us regular people, the envelope system is another way to budget. With the envelope system, you would have to cash out your paycheck and put all your bill money in envelopes that are labeled what the money will be used for, like gas or groceries. Lastly you can create a basic budget sheet and write everything down. The end result is the same, it’s just how you choose to get there.
Tools & Information:
By Evette Baker, Financial Education Specialist