How To Get The Most From Budgeting Tools
If you use any tools for budgeting, you want to make sure that you are getting the best value for your money and that you are using it to the fullest. Not only are you using the item to help you budget properly, but you also want to ensure that you are getting all the help that you can from the different tools which you choose. Budgeting tools aren’t created equally and they only work well if you are using them to their fullest potential too.
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Understanding Budgeting Tools
The tools that you can use for budgeting will depend on your own circumstances; how fully you understand the products that you are using and how much you actually need. Some products are extremely complicated and you might only just touch the surface of the actual product whilst others are easy and basic.
Different types of budgeting tools you can use:
- Computer software dedicated to budgeting.
- Books to help you understand how to budget and what you need to do.
- Budgeting workbooks.
- Plain paper.
- Envelope system.
- Zero budgeting.
The list can go on; it is a wide subject area with lots of different methods and ways all aiming for the same purpose, budgeting your money. However, the reason there are so many different products and budgeting tools available is to meet the needs of different people. Budgeting is not a one tool suits all, people need options and they need to find the one that is best suited to meet their needs and this is one reason why there are so many different ways to budget.
This is one reason so many people get confused; they are looking at the different systems, thinking their budget needs to fit into all these different methods and might not give it enough time, to see if the system will work for them.
The problem is that you don’t want to spend loads of money on a system to find that it isn’t for you. Often the simpler the system the easier it is to work, the more bells and whistles a system can do, the higher the risk that you will find it too complicated or lose interest in the product quickly, wasting time and money.
If you are looking for more information on creating budgets check out this article I wrote about creating budgets.
Bringing Together Budgeting Tools
Often you find budgeting tools banded together, no way to distinguish the good from the bad and no true understanding of the principles behind the tools.
In my mind, the simplest way to budget is by using a pen, a piece of paper and a calculator. I find this is the basic way to budget but very effective. I know this isn’t the case for everyone and I understand that sometimes computer programmes are the best option, you fill in the blanks and the programme does the work for you.
Knowing which option is better for you will depend on how you work; if you know that pen and paper are for you then looking for information on paper-based budgeting is going to take your budgeting to the next level.
If you are more inclined to go the computerized way, then looking for the best product that meets your budget and your needs is your way forward in deciding on the budgeting tools for you.
Either way you choose, you must commit to understanding and work with your budget, it isn’t something you should fight with or feel that it is holding you back, it is a partnership between income and living the life that you want.
Budgeting Tools To Get You On Track
There are different products and information out there that you can use; for me, the best advice I have seen is by David Ramsey. I love the way he talks about money. I love the advice he gives, for me, he is the person that I turn to when I have an issue with budgeting or I just need some reassurance in different areas. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know him personally but he does have some interesting books about budgeting and managing your money that might help you to understand your money and financial goals a little better.
One area that he does talk about a lot is the envelope system and over the years, I have found this works really well, either in an electronic form or the original cash based form.
If you are opting for the cash-based system, it is easier and cheaper to source envelopes that are going to work for you rather than buying expensive branded ones. Buying them in bulk, these envelopes would save money as you can replace them as necessary without worrying that they cost a lot of money.
Computerized Budgeting Tools
If you are going to try creating your own budgeting spreadsheet, you can tailor these to your own requirements if you struggle with understanding some of the easiest ways to programme your spreadsheet you might want to look at investing in some basic shortcuts and spreadsheet training. I have never gone wrong with this style of a book when it comes to understanding the basics of the area in question.
There are many software programmes that you can buy, offering budgeting services. For this reason, you must look at your options open to you, what you want the programme to do and how much you want to pay. Some of the most popular ones I have included:
- Quicken deluxe
- Dave Ramsey’s personal finance software
- Budget worksheet
- Moneyline personal finance software
You must look at what they offer and find the best one for you; look at the recommendations to see if one offers better services. It is good practice to search for negative comments on a product as this can help to highlight any potential problem.
Therefore, if you’re looking at budgeting tools, there are many options you need to consider; this area is full if different ways of doing the same thing, budgeting your money. Don’t spend money on a system unless you are sure it is the right one for you, fits your needs and isn’t too complicated to understand. If you want to get the most from these budgeting tools then you must learn how to use them, this is why it is important to buy or create the right one for you and your current circumstances.