Little confession here: I enjoy money. Not in a wealth-craving, materialistic way or anything. I just really enjoy working with numbers and budgeting. When I say I’m an on-again-off-again administrative assistant at Stone County Ironworks, what I really mean is that I enter endless invoices and bills into the accounting software…and thoroughly enjoy it.
Sometimes, though, life goes too fast and I don’t have the time to budget and track money and save like I want to. Sometimes the checkbook goes unbalanced for an embarrassingly long amount of time. And sometimes I overspend and then put off working on the budget or balancing the checkbook because not hitting my goals is just too dang depressing.
Enter my new favorite budgeting tool. I have two crazy kids to keep up with and since this tool entered my life in December, I’ve still been able to keep up with the money amazingly well.
It’s actually a software called You Need a Budget. Basically, it takes everything I’ve ever tried to make on my own with spreadsheets and online budgets, and boils it down into a simple, easy to use program that literally anyone could figure out. It doesn’t hurt that they also have a 4-step plan to get your finances in order, plus a myriad of videos and webinars to help.
My favorite part about the program is that, instead of working off of your expected income for the month, it goes off of what you already have in the bank account. You’ll never wonder if you have enough money to cover a bill again, because you’ll only budget the money that you have.
Unfortunately, this neat aspect can also be a caveat. One of the steps in their 4-steps is to create a buffer so that you’re literally a month ahead on spending and bills. For instance, if you budget $2000 for expenses in a month, you’d ideally already have $2000 in the bank at the beginning of the month for them. Then, any income from the current month is set aside for next month. If you’ve already got a buffer, then no problem, but if you don’t then you’ll find yourself only able to budget parts of the month at a time (usually budgeting more each time you get paid). While this can be a pain, it can also be very beneficial, because you obviously won’t have $2000 available to you to spend on the 1st of the month if you get paid $500 each week. So, if you only have $500 in the bank, you only budget $500 and wait until the next paycheck to budget in more. For any Dave Ramsey fans out there, it literally gives “every dollar a name”…and only the dollars you already have. However, unless you have that buffer already, you will have to have a basic budget figured out so you’ll know what to fill in.
Another feature I like about You Need a Budget is that it gives me to ability to have an array of things I’m saving for, from vacation to just setting aside a certain amount each month for our yearly Amazon Prime subscription. I can keep all of the savings in one savings account, but easily see how much I have saved for each thing. Goodbye annoying spreadsheets that I used to try to do this with, but never really succeeded.
Credit card debt is also handled excellently with this software. Once you’ve paid any existing debt off (the software really helps you do this), anything you spend on the credit cards is automatically taken out of the cash you have available. So, swiping that credit card is basically the same as paying for it with cash, and money is already set aside to pay it off at the end of the month. Easy as pie!
Previously, I used mint.com because it was free and connected to all of my accounts automatically. You Need a Budget doesn’t do that. You can download transactions (a bit of a pain), or enter them manually. Surprisingly, this hasn’t been a big deal for me. I usually try to enter transactions on the nifty smartphone app as they happen. But even if I get behind, it’s pretty easy to catch up. PLUS, entering the transactions manually really keeps me accountable.
I could say a lot more, but I’ll leave you with that for now. Go to the website, watch a few videos, and download the free month trial. Unlike mint.com, the software costs some money ($60), but it is so, SO worth the money. If you get a referral from someone who has the software (you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you mine) you get $5 off, plus the person who refers you gets $5 too.
Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid or anything to write this. I’m just really passionate about budgeting and saving, and this software has been so hugely beneficial to me that I just couldn’t keep it to myself. Check it out…I promise you won’t be disappointed!