Maybe you once tried keeping track of expenses with a ledger or spreadsheet and lost your motivation to keep everything current. Or maybe you worry about how hard it would be to get your finances organized. Or perhaps you think of personal budget software rather like a stern parent telling you to save your allowance instead of spending it. Whatever your qualms about using personal budget software, you should put them to rest and just give it a try.
With high speed internet and mobile technology, organizing your finances is easier today than it's ever been, and today's software is more like your practical buddy or girlfriend than a disapproving parent. If you want to end 2014 with a rosier financial picture than 2013, you can do it, whether you're starting from chaos, or a well-meaning, but ultimately inadequate personal budget plan. Here are 7 reasons why you can and should master personal budget software.
1. It Doesn't Care if You're Rich, Poor, or In Between
If you think, "Why bother with budgeting software? I'm always broke," then you should think again. Budgeting software isn't just for the person who has it together, never overdraws, and regularly contributes to a well-balanced investment portfolio. It's for the student with his first checking account, the newly-single mom, and the middle-aged guy who never quite mastered keeping up with money. Whatever your financial situation, personal budgeting software helps you improve it.
2. You Can Carry Your Budget with You
If you own a smartphone, you probably have apps ranging from your favorite websites to weather forecasts to games you can play when you're bored. Add a personal budget app that's connected to powerful online software like mint.com, and you carry your budget with you everywhere you go. If you're wondering if you really can afford that pretty chaise longue that's on sale, you can look at your numbers in an instant and find out. Choose an app with tight password protection so that if you lose your phone your budget information remains safe.
3. It Automatically Alerts You to Due Dates
We've all been there: suddenly looking up from our coffee on the 16th of the month to realize that our utility bill was due on the 15th. These are needless annoyances that cause you to waste money on late fees. A great personal budget app can send you text notifications letting you know you have a bill due in a few days. Even if it only saves you $10 or $20 a year, it's that much more that can go toward paying off debt, savings, or a minor splurge on coffee when you unexpectedly run into an old friend.
4. Software Is Far More Organized Than a File Folder
Your dad may have kept meticulous records using nothing more than a folder full of receipts and a paper ledger, but even the most conscientious person can make mistakes this way. Using personal budget software is automatically organized, and the best programs step you through every part of your budget, including things you may have forgotten about, like quarterly insurance payments or school lunch money. With budget software, losing receipts is no longer a problem.
5. It Works Behind the Scenes on Your Behalf
The "alert" features on many online budget apps, like mint.com, can give you an early warning in the event of possible identity theft. You can set up your software to alert you if a big withdrawal or purchase happens. Most of the time, you can confirm that yes, that charge is for the new business suit or game console you bought, but if you're alerted to a charge you don't recognize, you can act swiftly, before identity theft can cause major problems.
6. It's Free
Some of the best, most powerful online personal budget software is free. It pays for itself the first time it saves you a late fee or prevents you from overdrawing your account. Always read the site's privacy and security policies before signing up, and read all the fine print to determine if the software remains free or will incur charges after a trial period. You do not have to spend money to have powerful, flexible, personalized budgeting software.
7. It's Easy
Some of the older personal budgeting software was just as much of a hassle as manually balancing your checkbook, but today that's all changed. Great budget software today steps you through every feature and makes it easy to link accounts, experiment with potential changes to your budget, and keep track of your money at all times. A great personal budgeting app shows you exactly how to succeed with managing your money and makes it as easy as possible to do so. It can even encourage you at every step of saving for a big ticket item. In short, if you're not using a personal budgeting app in 2014, why not?
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