Maintaining a budget is the cornerstone to a healthy financial life. If you’re not budgeting, you can’t build wealth efficiently. Giving your money a place to go allows you to take control of it. This is the best way to experience financial freedom so you can spend time on the things you want to, instead of worrying about your next paycheck.
Since Stewardship is here to help you build wealth, I wanted to write a blog breaking down the top three budgeting tools we have come across. Hopefully, this information will help you make an informed decision in choosing the right one for you and your family.
Mint is a free online tool for tracking your net worth and monitoring where your money goes on a monthly basis. It tracks all your assets and debts, while providing a real-time picture (including your real-estate) of your financial health. Mint will also track your credit score and has a bill payment service. You also have access to detailed reports on any aspect of your financial picture.
Mint is a free budgeting tool, which is both a benefit and a pitfall. Though you don’t have to spend any money to use it, the program will try to sell you extra things while you’re using it. If you have a budgeting system down, but would love to know how the budget is effecting your financial picture, Mint is for you. If you are starting from scratch or reconfiguring your budget, consider one of the next tools.
EveryDollar is a Dave Ramsey created budgeting tool that helps you walk through his program. It allows you to simply set up an envelope system online and track you expenses per envelope. However, unless you use the paid version (which is $99 per year), you cannot connect with banks to track expenses. If you are coming from Financial Peace University, or have done the Total Money Makeover Plan, this budgeting tool will look very familiar to you.
3. YNAB.com (YouNeedABudget)
This tool is my favorite. I have talked about YNAB a few times, mainly because of the impact it has had in my own life. YNAB is a simple tool with great reporting features that changes the way you budget. YNAB uses an account register and connected bank reconciliation, essentially creating a living checkbook. It allows you to generate categories (envelopes for you Dave Ramsey fans) for your spending, very similar to EveryDollar, assign your money in your bank account to these expenses, and notifies you once the payment has been made.
One of the things I love about YNAB is you can only budget for what you already have—taking away the mindset that you can spend money you haven’t received. It also creates a goal to save at least three months’ worth of income. YNAB has an amazing support staff and tons of online video resources. If you want a new budgeting tool, give it a try. Your first month is free, then its $50 a year, but well worth it.
Budgeting is foundational to a healthy financial life. If you’d like more information on how we can help you achieve your financial goals, fill out the form below or give us a call today!
Jeremy Sharp is the Director of Financial Planning at Stewardship Financial. Jeremy loves helping people figure out ways to organize their financial life and make better decisions with their money. Jeremy and his wife have two boys and is an avid fan of New England sports.