Years ago, balancing your personal budget required a great deal of initiative and calculation. You had to gather hundreds of paper receipts, bills and bank statements, crunch all the numbers, and map out a financial strategy by hand.
Needless to say, things have changed.
With the influx of credit cards and online banking, the days of balancing your checkbook with pen and paper are long gone. No longer do you have to hoard paper receipts and crunch the numbers with your handheld calculator.
Instead, there are plenty of online tools that allow you to easily balance your budget and plan for retirement. Here are a few popular tools that could prove useful as you begin budgeting:
1. Mint: Like many other online tools, Mint allows you to connect your online bank accounts in one place (it’s totally safe, don’t worry!), categorize expenses by type, and create individualized budgets. Mint allows users to set goals for retirement, payment plans, and track investments. All of these elements are laid out in easy-to-read graphics including pie and bar charts for easy tracking. On top of all of that, the app is free!
2. BudgetPulse: If you are very security-conscious about your information, then you might consider using this site. BudgetPulse doesn’t require users to surrender their banking account information for tracking, and it lets users manually enter or import their banking data from computer files. As with many budget tools, BudgetPulse allows users to set up budgeting and saving goals. Like Mint, BudgetPulse is also free.
3. moneyStrands: Like the other resources, moneyStrands can help you visualize your bill payments and spending on its calendar, bar graphs, and much more. The only difference between this tool and the others is that this one focuses more on financial planning rather than tracking transactions. It can still automatically track your expenses by linking the service to your bank accounts, but moneyStrands goes further by generating budgets based on spending habits. moneyStrands is available online for free, and also has an iPhone app.