Creating a budget is a great way to stay on top of your spending throughout the year. Sitting down at the beginning of each month to assess your incoming cash along with expected living expenses and bills means fewer financial surprises and less stress.

Following the budget you’ve created may feel a little difficult, especially if this your first time making one. Spending habits are hard to break, and honestly, sometimes it’s easy to forget the plan you’ve made for yourself. However, there are several tools out there to make budgeting a little easier.

Top Tools to Make Budgeting Easier

Online Apps

There are many online apps, like Mint, that are able to gather all your financial information into one place. They can connect to almost every financial institution in the United States, which makes it easy for you to get an accurate picture of your finances in real time.

One of the best features of this app, however, is the alerts it can send. If you’re going over budget or spending an unusual amount of money in an area, then Mint will let you know.

Important Note: Before you give any money-managing app your financial information, make sure it has proper security measures in place, such as 128-bit SSL encryption and physical security standards that banks use.

Envelope System

While the envelope system isn’t anything new, it has been made famous in recent years by money-saving guru Dave Ramsey. The idea is simple. Once you’ve set your budget, place the amount of cash you’ve allotted for each area (groceries, clothes, eating out, etc.) in labeled envelopes.

Once you’ve used up the cash in that particular envelope, you’ve met your budget for that area. Though this method may take one or two tries to get exactly right, it’s easy to keep track of, and it’s a great visual for your actual budget.

Accountability Partner

Asking a fiscally responsible friend or family member to hold you accountable to your budget is incredibly effective. First, share your created budget with your accountability partner. Then, decide if you will have daily, weekly, or monthly check-ins. These can be in depth phone calls or quick, simple emails.

Not only will these check-ins help you stay on track, but they can also be a source of encouragement and can motivate you to stick to your budgeting goals.  

Budgeting may seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By implementing a few helpful tools, you’ll be able to easily follow your budget and meet your financial goals. Start trying these tools today and figure out the best method for you!