Imagine this you’ve been living the college life for the last 4 years, and you’ve just scored a $50,000 job. All the money in the world, right? You could live the high life and still have plenty of money left over other things, right? Unfortunately for us, life has a way of interfering with our dreams. Your rent rises. Your car breaks down. You miss a payment and your credit rating drops. Slowly, we lose control over our own finances.
The solution: Track your finances
It really comes down to that If you know exactly where you spend your money, figuring out where things are going wrong is simple, and then you can save more money and clear your debts much faster than you thought possible. Building a calendar to track your finances is not a new concept, and there are dozens of apps and a whole website dedicated to the art. Here are some of the simplest ways to do it:
1. Mint.com is an app designed to give you all the tools you need to manage income, spending, savings, and budgets. It syncs with all your financial accounts, from your bank to mutual funds. It shows a history of transactions and cash flow in real time and works great if your purchases are all through cards, but also works with cash if you enter the amounts manually.
2. Mvelopes: Mvelopes is an iOS and Android app that takes a a new path in tracking finances. When you create an account, the app asks you to fill out a quick form describing your income and your budget. You can then split your budget across 25 envelopes (categories). This lets you plan out our spending based on your budget, and track your progress along each envelope and the budget overall when you connect it to your bank accounts.
3. Pocketsmith: This is another app in the vein of Mvelopes, but looks somewhat nicer. It gives you a nice way to search for past transactions and forecasts your expected finances. You can even run little simulations on the forecasts, so now you can know how much you really would save if you switched to espresso in the morning. Google Calendar/Excel lf you need more fine grain control than what these apps can offer, the simplest way is to enter all your data in an Excel spreadsheet or in a separate Google Calendar. Excel formulas can really useful for analyzing expenses, and Google Calendar has reminders and such, which are great for bills.
You also get the benefit of tracking other data alongside it, like the amount of alcohol you consumed on that day. No matter what you choose, a budget can help you save thousands of dollars and protect you from things like overspending and missing payments. Go start saving.