Sometimes it can feel like staying on a budget is a truly impossible task, especially if it’s your New Year’s resolution. You try to keep an eye on how much money is coming in and going out each month, but pesky extra expenses or that “gotta have” item come into your life and it’s all a monthly budget free fall from there. Next thing you know, as long as you get your minimums on the credit cards paid, you figure you’re good.
The problem is living this way can get to feel precarious and unsustainable. Like one more bill will tip you out of any hope of ever saving anything ever again. Luckily, in the digital age, it’s far easier to get a handle on your financial world. Thanks to the bevy of financial apps, digital rebate programs, and browser extensions, budgeting success is never more than a click or tap away. Here are some of our top picks of the best digital budgeting tools.
This is one of the most popular budgeting apps out there, and for good reason. It’s made by Intuit (the tax software people), and it puts all aspects of your financial life into one place. It helps you create budgets, and even offers suggestions based on spending habits. It helps you track and pay bills, allowing you to set up alerts and payment schedules. And it even checks your credit score without a credit card number, and gives you tips on how to improve your score. It’s the one-stop-shop for all your budgeting needs.
Maybe you don’t like your budget following you around in your pocket wherever you go. Maybe you want to keep your budget contained to your desktop computer. For that there’s the Catchbudget Chrome extension. (Though the program does come with a smartphone app option.) This program is meant for households to manage their budgets, as it allows access of up to three family members to work together to control the budget.
One key aspect to a healthy budget is making sure your actual expenditures are kept as low as possible within your preferred lifestyle, especially since there’s always some must-have luxury item (http://beyondwords.life/7-best-pieces-jewelry-woman-can-buy/) out there. The easiest way to do that is to look for great deals, and one of the best deals is a cash back program. Ebates helps connect people with cash back options if they shop at online stores that are affiliated with the program. Some of the stores Ebates works with include Best Buy (http://www.bestbuy.com),) and Target (http://www.target.com), to name a couple. The service connects you with tons of coupon deals, as well.
Cartwheel from Target
Another easy way to save money and stay on your monthly budget is to see what rewards apps your favorite stores have. If you do a ton of shopping at a few stores in particular, the savings could really add up. One example is Target’s Cartwheel app. It’s basically an easy app that connects you to coupons and discounts at the store. Then you scan the related barcode off your phone at checkout. The more you save, the more badges you earn, and the more offers you unlock.
If you need a great way to stay on budget, buying in bulk could be your answer, yet sometimes that can involve some pesky calculations to see if the bulk price really is the best deal. Apples2Oranges is an app that takes the pain out of the process by helping you compare unit prices to see how you would save the most. It even helps you keep track of your calories by interpreting nutrition labels.
In an era when identity theft is constantly in the media, one of the best ways to stay in your financial sweet spot is to make sure your finances are protected. BillGuard is an app that helps you verify all your debit and credit card charges to make sure there’s no funny business going on with any of your accounts. It’s actually very easy and non-intrusive; the app flags any charges for you that others in the network have flagged as unauthorized or dubious. It even keeps track of where you shop and helps you analyze your spending.
Need an easy way to pad out your income so you can meet those budget goals? Rather than focusing on saving and keeping track of money, Acorns helps you invest money. The app takes the spare change from your purchases by rounding up to the nearest dollar and turns that change into investments. Your money is then diversified over 7,000 stocks and bonds. Feel like a wealthy investment tycoon with minimal effort.