If you have trouble sticking to a budget, you're not alone. Adhering to a budget can help you achieve long-term and short-term financial goals. Though it may be difficult at first, it does not have to be something you dread. With the help of budgeting apps, books and websites, you can establish a budget and stick to it.
Here is our roundup of some of the best budgeting tools available right now. Some are free, while others charge a one-time or monthly fee. No matter which you tool you select, each one is designed to help you create or stick to a budget.
1. Mint – Free
Mint is a financial planning and budgeting tool provided by Intuit, the same company that offers TurboTax and QuickBooks. Mint is free and available on Android and iOS. You can also access all of your information from Mint.com.
Mint connects with your bank accounts to display all of your current balances and track transactions. When you sign up with Mint, it walks you through setting up an initial budget and sends you financial tips based on your spending habits.
2. Level Money – Free
Level is powered by Capital One and is available for both Android devices and iPhones. This free app connects with your bank accounts and sorts your money into different categories. One category is for essentials like bills and rent; the other is what is left over and is deemed "spendable." Level Money only shows you the "spendable" category, so you know what you can afford to spend on nonessentials each month.
3. HomeBudget – Paid
Available for Android, iOS, and desktop computers, with HomeBudget, you manually enter your monthly income and expenses. Once you input your information, HomeBudget lets you specifically categorize each expense. HomeBudget is a good app for those who like to manually control their budget rather than syncing bank accounts to an app.
4. YNAB – Paid
You Need a Budget is currently one of the most popular budgeting apps. This app, available for both Android and iPhone, charges a monthly fee. It connects with your bank accounts and automatically categorizes your expenses. However, you can edit and customize your budget after the app imports your information. You can download the app to multiple devices under one account, so you and your family members are all on the same financial page.
The goal of Saving Advice is to provide financial planning tools and create a community of people wanting to budget their money and set funds aside for savings. It offers free tools, tips and articles. There is also a forum on the website where you can engage with other financially savvy people. If you are looking a strong community to help you stick with a budget, then SavingAdvice.com offers good resources.
If you want a simple budgeting platform that lets you manually map out your monthly spending, Budget Worksheets is a good choice. You can use the site without creating an account. Though, if you prefer, you can create an account and the site will save your spreadsheets, which you can access from any internet-enabled computer. To use this website, you simply enter your monthly expenses into the itemized spreadsheet, which you can download to your computer when it is completed.
A campaign from the Consumer Federation of America, the goal of America Saves is to provide budgeting resources to help families of all income levels save money and build wealth. On its website, you'll find budgeting tools as well as articles that advise readers about how to save and set savings goals. If you need a little inspiration, visit the Saver Stories section of the website, where other families share their successful saving stories.
1. Bonnie's Household Budget Book: The Essential Guide for Getting Control of Your Money
This book includes worksheets that help you create a budget you can follow. Author Bonnie Runyan McCullough helps you set financial goals you can reach over time and offers tips to help you adjust your budget for unexpected expenses. This book is a good choice if you enjoy creating budgets by hand rather than entering your information into an app or website.
2. The Budget Kit: The Common Cents Money Management Workbook
Author Judy Lawrence has two goals for readers: The first is to create a livable budget that you can stick to consistently and the second is to save money. In the second part of the workbook, Lawrence dispenses advice on many financial topics, including how to uncover "spending leaks," and how to create monthly and yearly budgets. The Budget Kit works on its own or in tandem with its partner website, MoneyTracker.com