Americans today exist in precarious financial situations. CNBC Money reports that 49% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, meaning they spend every dime of their monthly income with little left for saving. In fact, Americans save so little that 61% of us have not saved enough in an emergency fund to cover at least six months of necessary expenses.
Learning how to make a monthly budget and taking advantage of these four budgeting tools will help you avoid financial stress and save for emergencies.
1. Monthly Budget Using Spreadsheets – Although there are many more automated budgeting tools available today than there were even just a handful of years ago, the old-fashioned spreadsheet still works wonders. It gives you complete control of tracking expenses and setting spending limits and savings goals. Both Microsoft Excel and Google Document monthly budget templates are a good place to start.
2. Use Calendar Alerts to Stay on Your Monthly Budget – With everything daily life brings work, meetings, soccer practices, social events, and packing lunches, remembering to pay all the bills can sometimes seem impossible. Make sure you never waste another cent on a late fee by asking an electronic calendar to remind you. Set an alarm clock for your bills by scheduling alerts for payments you make regularly.
3. Bill Pay – Whether you are short on stamps or do not like writing checks, is a great asset to your budget. Make sure you never miss a payment again by using bill pay through our online banking website to stick to your monthly budget.
Through bill pay, you can schedule and authorize your monthly payments to be sent automatically. For bills which might change month to month, simply enter the amount you wish to pay and authorize the transaction.
4. Online Software and Apps – With a simple search, you can find numerous budgeting tools on the internet. Some come with a high price tag, but there are several free options which provide a more than adequate selection of tools and functions such as integrating your existing account information, scheduling monthly payments, and automatically tracking expenses.
Whether you are just learning how to make a monthly budget or already have a solid household budget established, making use of budgeting tools will help you keep yourself accountable and meet your goals