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The 12 Best Budget Apps (2020 Review)

The 12 Best Budget Apps (2020 Review)

The biggest part of budgeting is needing to get in control of your spending. But that can be nearly impossible to do on your own.

Expense tracker apps can make this a lot easier and even save you money. These budgeting tools can help you see your spending habits visually and see where your strengths and weaknesses are. As a management tool, it can help you spend your money the smart way and manage your cash flow.

All you need is a user-friendly spending tracker that works for you and you’re on your way to spending less and saving more.

Many expense apps also act as budgeting apps and can help you create your own budget. They make it easier to see all your spending in one place and manage all your monthly purchases and bills.

It can throw our finances out of balance for awhile when we go over budget one month. To get back on track you can take out a Check City Installment Loan and get your finances back in order in no time.

Here are some of the best rated expense tracker apps you can get for your phone today.

*All the information below was taken from Google Play on the day of posting.

1. Personal Capital

best budget app for investment portfolios

By Personal Capital Corporation

Reviewed 4.5 stars by 12,492 people

Free

PROS
CONS
Allows you to connect accounts: savings, checkings, investments, retirement, credit card accounts, mortgage. Designed primarily to track your net worth, cash flow, and investment portfolio.
Available financial advisors to offer recommendations backed by data. Not the most ideal option for personal, basic budgeting.
Tax optimization advice. Doesn’t allow you to share or link with other users.
Free analytics tool to track cash flow over a period of time. Less ideal if you don’t have a lot of money flow going different places.
Free analytics tool to track cash flow over a period of time.
Compatible with desktop and mobile devices.

With the Personal Capital app, you can do just about anything. You can sync the app to your personal bank accounts, your retirement funds, investments, IRA, and even debts, all in one seamless dashboard.

They even off their own high yield savings account called Personal Capital Cash. You can use Personal Capital’s saving account to keep any extra cash. It has no fees, no minimum balance requirements, and an Annual Personal Yield (APY) of 1.55%.

Overall,

the Personal Capital Budget App is great for individuals who want to grow their personal wealth and want to better keep track of all their investments. This app makes a great place to keep your full financial portfolio.

2. QuickBooks

best budget app for small businesses

By Intuit Inc

Reviewed 4.25 stars by 33,232 people

Free for 30 days

PROS
CONS
Plan specifically for small businesses, self-employed, and accountants. Not ideal for personal budget use.
Can keep track of all business expenses and keep them separate from personal expenses. Monthly subscriptions required from $15 to $35 a month.
Includes Turbo Tax features. Desktop pro costs $299.95
Automatically track miles. It costs an additional $250 to add other people onto your account.
Send professional invoices. You can only add up to 3 other people.
Compatible with desktop and mobile devices.
Ideal for all your business bookkeeping.

If you have frequent business expenses than QuickBooks is a good choice for you. This app includes the ability to track and earn up to 57.5 cents per mile, send and track your professional invoices, digitally keep track of receipts, and review how your business is doing financially in easy to read charts and graphs.

Overall,

Quickbooks is the perfect budgeting apps for small businesses and individuals who are self-employed. It’s a seamless place to do all your business bookkeeping.

3. Clarity Money

best free budget app

By Clarity Money, Inc

Reviewed 4.2 stars by 4,508 people

Free

PROS
CONS
100% free to use. Very simple features.
High-yield savings account with 1.70% APY. Involves creating an account with Marcus by Goldman Sachs Bank
Organize monthly expenses into categories. You can’t create groups.
Cancel unwanted subscriptions all in one place.
Make specific savings goals.
Free credit score checks.

The Clarity Money app has built-in AI that can help show you key information about your spending habits and help you automate your savings! Take care of your personal finance from month to month in this extremely simple budgeting app.

They also have a high yield savings account that’s highly customizable. You can decide to save specific amounts, at certain times each week or month, and even say what each savings plan is saving up for.

You can also cancel your subscriptions in one convenient location, organize all your bills, and check your credit score.

Overall,

the Clarity Money Budget App is a great app for anyone who wants a completely free, super easy to use money management app.

4. Mint Budgeting App

budget app android

By Intuit Inc

Reviewed 4.5 stars by 164,702 people

Free

PROS
CONS
Free unlimited credit score checks It’s not the most aestetically pleasing app.
Stay on top of your bills. There isn’t a desktop app, just a desktop website.
Stay on top of your spending.
See your financial analytics.
Make specific budget goals.

Mint is one of the most popular budgeting apps. It’s made by the same people who brought you QuickBooks and TurboTax.

With the Mint app, you can create a budget that’s easy to stick to, keep track of your spending in neat spending categories, keep tabs on all your bills in one spot, and even get free credit score checks. Mint also has an easy to use web app that connects to your mobile app.

Overall,

the Mint Budgeting App is a great budgeting tool for those who want to improve their credit scores since Mint offers unlimited credit score checks and personalized tips and tricks on how you can improve your score.

5. YNAB

best budget app for desktop

By YouNeedABudget.com

Reviewed 4 stars by 5,669 people

Free for 34 days

PROS
CONS
34 day free trial. Pay $11.99 a month or $84 a year.
Track your personal budget goals. Not very customizable.
Optimized for the YNAB method of budgeting.
The YNAB app is compatible with your phone, desktop, Apple smartwatch, and even Alexa!

YNAB stands for You Need A Budget, which is a company that specializes in helping people use the YNAB budgeting method to make easy to follow monthly budgets. The YNAB app will take you through this easy process and help you to set goals.

Overall,

the YNAB Budget App is a good budget tool for anyone who is already invested in using the YNAB methods of budgeting. So if you need some more specific guidance when it comes to budgeting, then the YNAB Budget App is made for you.

6. Mvelopes Budget App

cash envelope budget system

By Finicity Corp

Reviewed 3.5 stars by 3,474 people

Free for 30 days

PROS
CONS
30 day free trial. Pay $6 to $59 a month.
Resources for debt.
Personal Financial Coaches available.
Digitally make use of the envelope budgeting system.

The envelope method for budgeting is popular for its incredible simplicity. If you have a very difficult time with budgeting, then the envelope method is where you should start.

The Mvelopes Budget App allows you to put money into digital envelopes that will notify when they’re empty so you don’t overspend on a specific category of your budget.

Overall,

Mvelopes is the best app for anyone who wants to digitally use the envelope system of budgeting without the hassle of taking out cash and using actual envelopes. This app is also ideal for people who need help getting out of debt.

7. Money Manager

budget app for couples

By Realbyte Inc

Reviewed 4.6 stars by 10,800 people

App Price: $4.99

PROS
CONS
Free version of the app. Premium version of the app only costs $4.99 on Google Play, and $3.99 on IOS.
You can save photos. Desktop version only available with Premium.
Allows dual entry booking.
Lets you budget monthly or weekly.

The Money Manager app lets you save photos along with photos of your receipt, so you can see what you bought, and how much it cost. It also allows dual entry booking and backs up your data to Google Drive or Excel files.

Overall,

the Money Manager Budget App can be extremely useful for both personal and professional use. And even though the premium version of the app costs money, it doesn’t require a monthly or yearly subscription as most other budgeting apps do.

8. Expensify

expense tracking apps

By Expensify Inc

Reviewed 4 stars by 13,989 people

Free

PROS
CONS
Put business expenses on the Expensify Card. Not very ideal for creating a personal budget.
Scan receipts with a smart scanner.

Expensify is an expense report app that comes with its own Expensify card. With this card, you can eliminate expense reports by simply using the Expensify card for all your business expenses.

Using the Expensify card also comes with lots of benefits. For instance, when you take a client out to dinner you help pay for a student’s lunch and every time you use the Expensify card to book a hotel for a business trip, you help someone else get a home.

Now you can make business expenses and feel good about the little ways the Expensify card helps you help others.

You can track and submit receipts with a receipt scanner that can automatically detect all the important information from the receipt for you. Then, you can categorize, code, and organize all your receipts in one easy to reach place.

Overall,

the Expensify app may not be ideal for budgeting, but it is the most ideal app for keeping track of business expenses and keeping track of all your receipts. If you want a safe place to keep and organize all your many receipts then Expensify is the best app for you.

9. Dave Ramsey Budget App: EveryDollar

spending apps

By Ramsey Solutions

Reviewed 4.2 stars by 6,092 people

Free without premium

PROS
CONS
You can plan your paychecks. You can only connect your financial accounts with the premium version.
It’s compatible with your desktop and mobile device. The sections aren’t very customizable.
It’s compatible with your desktop and mobile device. The premium version of the Dave Ramsey Budget app costs $129.99 every year.
The premium version is expensive but it does also offer courses from Financial Peace University.

The EveryDollar app was created by Dave Ramsey’s company to help you budget like Dave Ramsey.

Dave Ramsey’s main budgeting principle is to decide where every dollar you earn goes so that you have absolute control over every penny you earn. There’s also a premium version of this app available with EveryDollar Plus.

Overall,

the Dave Ramsey Budget App is a very simple budgeting app that might just be the easiest to use. Everything is effortlessly organized for you so you can start budgeting immediately.

The only major downside to the Dave Ramsey Budget App is that the premium versions cost a lot of money, $129.99 a year, and it’s only with this cost that you can sync your bank accounts to the app.

10. Zoho Expense Reporting

expense report app

By Zoho Corporation

Reviewed 4.5 stars by 2,659 people

Free

PROS
CONS
Dashboard helps you see the expense reports you have and haven’t sent. Not ideal for tracking personal expenses.
Can easily track your miles. No budget creation features.
Creates detailed expense reports.
Import your credit card statements all at once.

Zoho Corporation creates all kinds of useful apps for your business. One of them is an expense reporting app that lets you import credit card statements and helps you see the overall analytics for your business expenditures.

With this app, you can easily see how your business is doing financially in one place. With their easy to read graphs and charts, you can see how much your business is costing you in travel, office supplies, and client meetups.

Overall,

the Zoho Expense Reporting App is the best app for keeping track of all your business-related expenses. It’s also a very useful app if you’re an employee that needs to frequently send expense reports because you can quickly and painlessly send them to your boss from your phone!

11. Wally Budget App

best family budget app

By Wally Global Inc

Reviewed 2 stars by 200 people

Free, in-app purchases

PROS
CONS
Create groups and share budgets with the whole family. App is still in development.
Manage foreign accounts, investments, and your net worth. Wally Gold costs $26.99 a year.
Automatically tracks all your spending and give detailed insights into your spending habits. Coin earning system. Earn Wally coins every time a friend uses your invite code to download the app.

Don’t let this budgeting tool’s low rankings mislead you, Wally is an up and coming finance app that has been rated #1 over 40 times by places like NerdWallet, Forbes, and The Guardian. It is quickly becoming one of the most popular budget apps and it’s easy to see why.

The Wally app even lets you create group budgets for your family and household. It also lets you create shopping lists so you can see how much your grocery trip might cost you. And their basic version is 100% free!

Because the Wally Budget App is still new, they’re still working on creating features like desktop capability. But these features should soon be on their way. But already the basic Wally app has all the budget tool features you could ever want, with bank syncing, easy customization, and the ability to create multiple groups!

Overall,

the Wally app is the best overall budgeting app. It’s the perfect budget app for families and individuals and comes in a pleasant and friendly design you’re sure to love.

12. Albert Budget App

budget app for ios

By Albert Corp

Reviewed 4 stars by 3,146 people

Free

PROS
CONS
Get a $100 cash advance on your next paycheck. Cash advances cost up to $4.99 for instant delivery.
Customize your savings goals. Without the instant delivery fee, cash advances deposit in about 3 business days.
Get a 1% annual bonus for saving. Requirements apply.
Start an investment account with just $1. Requirements apply.

The Albert budgeting app has a sleek and simple design and allows you to easily take care of all your finances.

You can even text with a professional when you need financial advice, get real-time alerts about your finances, invest, and fully automate your savings. And these professionals aren’t just bots, they’re actual financial experts that work at Albert Corp to help you with your financial questions.

Overall,

the budget app by Albert Genius is a great portfolio for someone who wants easy access to some extra funds and an easy way to get started in the investment world.


Keto Recipes: An Easy Guide for Beginners

Keto Recipes: An Easy Guide for Beginners

The keto diet is becoming ever more popular and it’s easy to see why. Many ordinary people are seeing great results with this high fat and low carb diet.

The National Center for Biotechnology found that out by doing a study to test the effectiveness of the diet over a period of 24 weeks. After their study was over they found that the keto diet can significantly decrease both weight and body mass index.

How Does the Keto Diet Work?

The word “keto” in keto diet, comes from the word “ketogenic.” The diet involves low carbs, proteins, and lots of fats. By eating this way, your body goes into what’s called ketosis, which makes your body switch to burning fats for energy instead of carbohydrates.

The keto diet was originally intended for children with epilepsy. It has also been suggested by doctors for obese patients or patients with type 2 diabetes or who are prediabetic for type 2 diabetes.

People have also found that the keto diet can help with heart disease, cancer, and even acne!

But it’s a pretty strict diet, so finding keto-friendly recipes can be difficult. Luckily, we’re here to help, and we’ll even show you how keto foods can help you save money as well.

Keto Diet Steps

The keto diet is all about no carbs and lots of fats and proteins. But for some, it can be a really different way to eat compared to how they normally eat.

keto diet health

First, learn what you can and can’t have on the keto diet

Here are a few foods you can’t have while on the keto diet:

  • Grains like bread
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes
  • Sugary fruits like bananas or mangos
  • Sugar
  • Baked goods

And here are a few foods you can have while on the keto diet:

  • Meats
  • Low carb veggies
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Berries
Second, fill up your pantry with the foods you can have

By grocery shopping for what you can eat, and getting rid of the foods you can’t eat, you’ll make eating right a lot easier on yourself. When unhealthy foods are out of sight they are more easily out of mind as well. And if you need help stocking that pantry, you can always take out a small Check City Installment Loan to cover some of your food costs.

Third, build up an arsenal of keto recipes you love

Make your own cookbook full of your favorite keto recipes. Starting a healthier diet can be a fun way to experiment with new recipes that are also better for you.

Download a Free PDF Printable for a Keto Recipe Card.

Fourth, track your progress

Another way to help you stay on the keto diet is to track your progress. If you are able to see the difference eating healthier can make on your body and mind then you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

Download a Free PDF Printable for a Keto Progress Worksheet.

Fifth, create contingency plans

You also want to create a plan for what you’ll do when obstacles arise. One challenge might be when your friends want to go out to eat. Look up the keto-friendly options available at your local restaurants so you know where you can eat.

You might also need to make a contingency plan for when you go to family gatherings. Try talking to your loved ones about your new diet and see if they can provide keto-friendly food options for you. Otherwise, you can always plan on bringing your own food.

Just follow these simple steps to make living the keto diet super easy.

Keto Diet Recipes

If you’re just starting the keto diet, then you might feel lost about some things like what is a chaffle? and what do I make myself for dinner now? Don’t worry though, there are plenty of easy keto recipe ideas to choose from on the internet right now.

Here are some of the most popular keto recipes to get you started:

How the Keto Diet Can Save You Money

Living a healthier lifestyle doesn’t need to be difficult. Especially once you realize the health and financial benefits a healthy diet can provide! Eating healthier can also save you money in the long term!

Here are a few ways eating keto can help you gain money as you lose pounds:

  • You have to stick to your grocery list, so you’re less likely to buy lots of extra goodies.
  • You’ll end up eating out less and cooking at home more.
  • You’ll have more leftovers to provide even more meals throughout the week.
  • You’ll stop buying expensive snacks and junk foods.
  • Healthy produce is less expensive in the long term.
  • You can pack your lunches for work and school instead of eating out every day.
  • Becoming healthier means less medical bills.

If you allow it, living a healthier lifestyle can help you and your wallet feel great. As you work toward physical stability, you can also work toward financial stability! Learning to use the keto diet to maintain better physical and financial health is just one diet example that can benefit your life in more ways than one.


Sallie Mae Personal Loan

At Sallie Mae you can get a personal loan with fixed interest rates, but these loans are by invitation only. If you haven’t been invited to take out a Sallie Mae personal loan, then look into a Check City Personal Loan where no invitation or offer code is needed to apply.

Personal Loans are loans paid in monthly installments that can be used for a variety of personal reasons. They are most commonly used for home improvements, debt consolidation, or important major purchases. There is a lot to consider when shopping for a personal loan, and we hope to make that process easier by outlining the basics of a Sallie Mae personal loan.

Sallie Mae Personal Loans: A Quick Look

The personal loans at Sallie Mae offer fixed interest rates with a narrow range of loan amounts and terms. The main thing to remember with Sallie Mae personal loans is that you need a personal offer code to apply.

Loan Amount: $3,000 to $35,000

Rates: 6.99% to 24.99% APR

Fees: no origination fee and no prepayment penalty fee, but there are late fees

Terms: 36 to 60 months (3 to 5 years)

Basically, a personal loan from Sallie Mae is the best option for anyone who has already received an invitation from Sallie Mae to apply for a personal loan from them. If you don’t have an offer code from Sallie Mae then you can’t apply for one of their loans. Otherwise, a Sallie Mae personal loan is a worthwhile option with fixed interest rates and almost no fees.

Who are Sallie Mae Personal Loans Perfect For?

Not all loans will work for everyone, which is why loan research is so important when shopping for the best loan fit for you. Sallie Mae personal loans will work best for anyone that’s received a personal offer code from them. You have to have this personal offer code in order to apply for a Sallie Mae personal loan. Once you have your own invitation their loans are best used for debt consolidation, major expenses, and major life events like weddings.

PROS

  • Fixed interest rates
  • No origination fee or prepayment penalties
  • Get funds as soon as the next business day

Who Should NOT Get a Sallie Mae Personal Loan?

If you don’t have an offer code from Sallie Mae then you can’t get a personal loan from them. But even if you do have a personal invitation to apply for their loans, you should still take a moment to consider your options. Sallie Mae personal loans don’t offer a very wide range of loan terms or amounts, so if these numbers don’t match your loan needs you may need to keep looking.

CONS

  • You need an invitation to apply
  • There are fees for late payments
  • They offer a narrow loan amount range
  • They don’t have many payment term options

An Alternative to Sallie Mae Personal Loans

If you can’t get a Sallie Mae personal loan don’t be discouraged. There are plenty of other loan alternatives out there that don’t require invitation codes in order to apply. Like the Check City Personal Loan! At Check City, you have the option to take out smaller loan amounts and pay them back in a matter of months instead of years.

Reasons to Get a Check City Personal Loan:

sallie mae personal loan review

Direct Lending. Check City lends loans directly so you don’t have to deal with third-parties to get your money.

State Licensed Lending. Check City is a licensed lender in each state they operate in.

Fast Application. Check City loan applications are quick and easy to fill out. You can be done in a matter of minutes.

Low Credit? No Problem! Even if you have a low credit score you can still apply for a Check City personal loan.

No Origination Fee. Check City won’t charge you just for starting an account.

FAST FUNDS. Visit a Check City store to apply and you can walk away with your cash today!

Shorter Loan Terms and Smaller Loans. Not everyone needs a giant loan that takes years to pay off. At Check City, you can get smaller loan amounts that are easier and faster to pay off.

How to Apply for a Check City Personal Loan

All you need is a few short minutes to complete an online application at Check City. You don’t need a lot to apply either! Just the listed items below:

What You’ll Need to Apply:

  • A government ID
  • Proof of bank account
  • Proof of direct deposit
  • Proof of income
  • A valid phone number

Apply Online. You can also apply for a Check City personal loan over the phone or in the store.

Apply in the Store. If you apply for your loan in the store, you can actually walk out with your money in that very same visit!

Or call Check City’s Loans By Phone number: 800-404-0254

The Check City personal loan was created for everyone. Anyone can apply and get their funds FAST with our simple streamlined loan process. Don’t hesitate to give us a call, pull up our website, or visit your neighborhood’s Check City store to get your money now.

COMPARE SIMILAR PERSONAL LOAN OPTIONS

Check City American Express PNC Bank Marcus by Goldman Sachs Sallie Mae
Amount $300 to $3,000 $3,500 to $40,000 $1,000 to $35,000 $3,500 to $40,000 $3,000 to $35,000
Rates lower APR than our payday loans 6.90% to 19.98% 5.99% to 25.99% 6.99% to 28.99% 6.99% to 24.99%
Fees no origination fees no origination fee, there are late fees no origination fee, no prepayment fee, no application fee, but there are late fees no sign-up or prepayment fees no origination fee and no prepayment penalty fee, but there are late fees
Terms 6 months 12 to 48 months 36 months 36 to 72 months 36 to 60 months
Min. Credit Score none 660 high credit score 660 n/a

You don’t have to settle for less when it comes to your personal loan choices. There are many personal loan options available for all kinds of loan customers. You have your own loan requirements when shopping for a loan and with a little research, you can find the best personal loan for you.


Budgeting in 4 Easy Steps

budget

No matter your financial situation in life, everyone needs a budget. With a budget, you can plan for needed expenses and prepare for the things you want!

In fact, the most simple budget only needs a couple of lists, a calculator, and some goals. Below are the main points our post will go over to help you set up your budget:

Explore this Article

Budgets are an important tool in anyone’s financial arsenal. Budgets can help you organize your needed expenses, like rent and bills, prepare for emergencies and get ready for whatever your future might hold. By knowing how to budget you can learn to stop living paycheck to paycheck and start building up your savings. it can help you save up for big expenses or future life events like a wedding, starting a family, buying a car or a house or moving to a new state.

Budgeting can also help you save for retirement, something else that even younger people just starting out on their own sometimes forget to think about but should. But most of all it can grant you financial power and freedom and help you provide for your wants and needs. But for those just starting out on their own especially, it can be hard to know where to begin.

There are several key elements you’ll need to include in your budget. You need to think about all your necessary expenses and plan them out accordingly so you are aware of how much of your monthly income you need to spend each month no matter what. Then you’ll have to think about unnecessary expenses. This is where you have the most freedom to plan out the numbers and make adjustments.

budget-template

How to Budget

There are many ways to budget and there is a lot of advice out there in the financial spheres about how to do it. You can also choose to plan for certain events by making a specific wedding budget, or for major purchases like car payments. But if you’re making a simple budget for yourself, then the main thing you’ll want to decide first is whether you want to make a monthly or yearly budget. Most people like to create a yearly one to get a general big picture view of their financial goals and future plans. But, a monthly one is more helpful for everyday use. We’re going to try and condense all that down to the bare bones minimum of what every smart budget needs.

#1: List your monthly income

List out all your forms of income. This would include the paychecks from your job, but also any extra money you make from any of your side hustles. Here is also where you can decide whether you want to organize your finances for gross income or net income.

Gross income is simpler and easier to calculate. You just need to know how much you get paid and use that money for your calculations.

Net income isn’t as simple to figure out but there are advantages to using it. You figure out your net income by looking up what the income tax is in your state, and taking out that percentage from your gross income. Using net income instead of gross income is perhaps better because it more realistically reflects what you will actually receive from your paycheck.

#2: List your fixed expenses

After you have all your sources of income written down you’ll want to form another list for all your fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are the expenses you have each month that doesn’t fluctuate in amount. Everyone’s list is going to look different depending on what expenses do and don’t apply to you, but here is an example list of some fixed expenses:

  • Rent or Mortgage: A calculation you’ll want to do when looking at your housing expenses is to check that your total housing expenses aren’t over 28% of your monthly gross income.
  • Insurance
  • Debts: A calculation you’ll want to do when looking at your debts is to check that your total debts aren’t over 36% of your monthly gross income.
  • Loans
  • Student loans
  • Credit card payments
  • Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify
  • Phone bill
  • Medication you pay for each month
  • Child support
  • Education

After you’ve listed all your fixed expenses total the amount, subtract it from your monthly income, and that’s what you have left to spend on varied expenses . . .

#3: Set up your savings

Before we go into varied expenses though, let’s take a moment to think about your savings and retirement. Get a savings account if you don’t have one already, and set aside a portion of what’s leftover after fixed expenses. Any amount you can afford to put away into a savings account each month will set you up for success in the long term, even if it’s only 5 to 10 dollars a month.

Aside from general savings and saving for retirement, you also want to set money aside in an emergency fund. It’s recommended that you have at least 3 months’ worth of your fixed expenses put away into an emergency fund at all times.

Digit is a great app you can use to help you plan and organize all your savings.

#4: List and portion out your varied expenses

Everyone’s list of varied expenses is going to look different depending on what expenses do and don’t apply to you. Varied expenses are any expenses that are going to fluctuate in amount each month, or are considered more like luxury expenses than needed ones.

Varied expenses are a big reason to do a budget in the first place so that your varied expenses each month don’t overtake your more important fixed expenses and your savings. Here are some examples of varied expenses you might need to consider:

  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Entertainment
  • Gas and transportation
  • Recreation
  • Clothes
  • College textbooks

Another way to figure out the reality of what you’re spending on varied expenses is to look at your transaction history for the month and see 1) How much in total you were spending on varied expenses that month, and 2) What those varied expenses were on. Do this for a couple of months back to get a more realistic idea of what you are spending on varied expenses each month.

Organizing your varied expenses is where you have the most control over your budget. Whatever is left over after your fixed expenses and your monthly payments to your savings account is what you have to spend on all your other spending for the month.

Here is where you will list out what all those varied expenses might be and portion what you have left in the budget into them. Remember that you don’t necessarily want to portion out 100% of what’s left into these categories so that you can accumulate a comfortable cushion in not just your savings account but your checking account as well.

Budgeting Tips

Invest

Making investments is a great way to beef up your financial portfolio. There are probably a trillion ways to invest, but the idea behind investments is that you put money into something that will give you more money in return later. This is called compounding interest.

interest-rate

A helpful tip to remember when going into any investment is the rule of 72. This rule means that if you take 72 divided by the interest rate you’ll figure out the estimated number of years it will take for your interest to double your initial investment.

Personal Capital and Acorns are some of the most helpful investing apps you can use to step up your investment game.

Where should I put my budget?

Figuring out where to even put your budget can get complicated. You can use excel or make your own table in Word or Google Docs or any note-taking program of your choice. There are also many free budget templates online that you can print out and use. Budget tools are all around if you take the time to look and decide on which ones best suit your needs.

Click here for a free budget worksheet from the Federal Trade Commission.

You can also use budgeting apps to keep track of all your bills, expenses, plans, and goals. Some of these apps even allow you to connect your budget to your financial accounts.

Control your spending

Sometimes it can be difficult to control your varied expenses throughout the month and track your spending. You can make controlling how much you spend each month easier by using a prepaid debit card. With a prepaid debit card, you put money on it like a gift card to yourself almost. You can also use a similar method of spending control by just taking money out and only using that cash for your varied expenses each week.

PocketGuard is an app that can help you track your purchases.

Get a Side Gig

Getting an extra source of income can really come in handy. There are a million different kinds of side hustles any ambitious person these days can get into. You can babysit, drive for uber, or sell your own products. The possibilities are endless and it never hurts to have a little extra money each month.

Plan to Decrease Debts

Debt can be a real financial weight on your shoulders, but it can also be a necessary evil in order to get a house, get a car, get through college, and much more. Decreasing the amount of debts you owe can still help alleviate some of that weight and provide more financial comfort and peace of mind.

So it’s important to budget with paying down your debts in mind. You can pay down debts quicker by planning to spend more on that fixed/necessary expenses each month, by spending less on varied expenses, or by getting another job to provide more income to put into your debts each month.

Budgeting doesn’t have to be hard. All you really need is 4 lists and a calculator! Everyone should practice using a budget now so that you can control your finances instead of your finances controlling you.

READ MORE

Check out some of other Check City articles on budgeting:
Budgeting for Dummies

What is a Budget?

Budgeting Tips You May Not Have Thought of Before

3 Simple Tips to Building a Budget

Ways to Keep Track of Your Spending


How I Learned to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Living paycheck to paycheck is actually very common in the United States. In fact, you could say that most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. As many as 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck—that’s 8 out of every 10 workers. And it’s not just low income workers that are living this way, even many workers who make $100,000 a year or more report to still be living paycheck to paycheck. This tells us that living paycheck to paycheck isn’t a problem of money, it’s a problem of mentality or the ability to keep ahead of your finances.

Why You Want to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

The big problem with living paycheck to paycheck is you don’t have any extra funds each month. This makes you vulnerable when disasters and emergencies strike. If all of your monthly income is being used each month then you won’t have any funds to lean on when you suddenly have to repair your house after a flood, or you need to move, or travel for a wedding. It also keeps you from saving for important things like,

  • Savings
  • Retirement
  • Car
  • House
  • Repairs and renovations
  • Emergencies
  • Tuition
  • Accumulating wealth

Assess why you are living paycheck to paycheck

There are many reasons to be living paycheck to paycheck, but it usually comes down to one of three reasons. Either you aren’t making enough money, you are spending too much each month, or you have essential spending like debts or housing that overtake your whole monthly budget. After you determine which of these three reasons applies to you, you can better determine how to fix your finances.

Basically you need to see what is overtaking your budget and readjust to be living within your means. When you are living within your means you are able to save which helps you live better later on in life. Living within your means and putting away into savings each month is how to budget for the long-term.

Get a new job

If you just aren’t making enough money to live on, then you need to get a better job, a raise, or a second job or side hustle that can help make up for the little you’re making where you’re at. There are lots of job websites out there right now to help you find a better job. There are also many programs that can get you the training, education, or certifications necessary to help you qualify for better paying jobs.

Control your spending

If the problem is your personal spending habits, then you want to deal with this by controlling yourself and your budget more. this may sound boring or depressing to have to control your spending so strictly, but think of it as figuring out how much you are actually allowed to spend each month, rather than focusing on how much you can’t spend.

Downsize the way you live

You also might need to adjust your living situation. You might be paying too much for rent, compared to how much you make each month. If this is the case than you might need to move so your mortgage or rent is more doable within your budget. You can also downsize other aspects of your life, like transportation. Downsize to a more affordable vehicle, or try carpooling or biking to work to save on gas.

Take care of debts first

If you have a lot of debts that are bogging your budget down, you can try debt consolidation with your bank to get a better interest rate or payment plan. You can also downsize the way you live so that you can pay off your debts more quickly.
The rest of this article was written by a guest author named Adam. He wanted to share with everyone some helpful tips that he’s used to stop living paycheck to paycheck. We hope you enjoy his insights as much as we have!

How Adam Stopped Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Sometimes, during the week leading up to payday, I find myself clinging for dear life to my finances. If I can just survive until I get paid, I think to myself, then everything will be OK. I go into crisis mode, axing all discretionary spending and hoping that no unexpected expenses pop up.

When my paycheck finally appears in the mail, I breathe a huge sigh of relief. And then I revert to my old spending habits—eating out, buying the latest gadgets, etc. A few weeks pass, and I’m right back where I started, panicking about making it to my next paycheck.

It’s a cruel cycle, like the spin cycle of a washing machine. But instead of coming out clean at the end, I would just wind up dizzy and half-drowned.

If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Thankfully, I found a way to escape the constant spin cycle and stop living paycheck to paycheck.

My Arch-Nemesis: The Dreaded Budget

Saving money does not come naturally to me, and money gets spent often without me even realizing it. I knew right off the bat that I was going to get nowhere without a budget.

Budgets take hard work and discipline especially if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck. You need the self-control to resist making any unnecessary purchases, and you need the personal honesty required to separate wants from needs.

Taking a Long, Hard Look at My Spending

It was time to take out the old magnifying glass and look at how I was really spending my money.
I was shocked. Did I really spend that much money eating out every month? It was atrocious how much of my paycheck went to entertainment.

As soon as I had a strong grasp on where I was spending my money, I was able to craft a budget that accounted for my needs, and even made a little room for some wants (for the sake of my sanity).

My Game Plan for Dealing with Credit Card Debt

One of the big motivators for turning my finances around was that I wanted so badly to get out of debt. Over the years, my spending habits had been subsidized by various credit cards, and I’d built up quite a chunk of debt.

Thankfully, my credit card debt provided short term goals to help me along the way. Basically, I would zero in on one balance, keeping all other balances on the back burner. Once that one card was paid off, I felt the accomplishment of having achieved a goal, which helped me forge ahead with my budget.

Reevaluating Progress

Every six months or so, I take time to reevaluate my budget and spending, and make adjustments accordingly. As I’ve reduced my debt and added to my savings, things have gotten easier. I’m no longer living paycheck to paycheck, and I’ve even been able to fit in a few purchases for things I really want, like gadgets and such.

How did you stop living paycheck to paycheck? Leave your tips in the comments section below.

Learn How to Save More

save money

Everybody wants to save more, but not everybody knows how. Saving money is a goal you have to set and plan to achieve, otherwise, it will never happen.

It can be really difficult to learn how to save money. There are so many advertising ploys and gimmicks out there bent on convincing us we need to buy more and more things. Not only that, but there are so many important payments and purchases you need to make each month like rent, utilities, groceries, and gas.

With so many things needing our money, it can be a real struggle to hold on to our funds. Learning to save has its own learning curve and that’s ok! Just follow these simple tips and you’ll quickly learn how to save more.

Start with a Dollar

dollar

One of the main reasons people don’t save their money is because they feel they can’t afford to save money. If you are unemployed or deep in a financial crisis, it may seem like you literally don’t have money to save. Every cent you receive you need to use to pay off a debt or even pay your rent. But even if this is your situation, it is still important to build some savings.

Even if you only set aside $1.00 per paycheck, that is still helping you build savings fund. In time, that money will build and create a small savings account for you. With an accumulating savings account on your side, you’ll feel more financially at ease and you’ll be more prepared for the future even if it is only a dollar at a time.

Spend Some of Your Savings on Yourself

savings account

All goals need a source of motivation to be effective. One of the best motivations you can use in building a savings fund is to give yourself a little money for fun. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, right? Just remember the rule of moderation. If you spend all of your money on fun things, then you won’t have a savings account for important things.

But if you spend all of your savings on necessities, then you won’t have money for fun. How you spend your savings money is all about balance. Our life needs security and enrichment. By learning to save more, you’ll have funds for both.

Build Self-Discipline

self-control

You must have enough self-discipline to not dip your hand into your savings account and cheat. It may seem easy. There may not be anyone watching you to make sure you don’t do it. But you have to watch yourself and make sure you don’t stray from your savings plans. Just stick to the amount of money you’ve allotted to yourself. You’ll feel so much better about yourself and your financial situation if you do.

Don’t make a budget for anyone but yourself. You need to prove to yourself, and no one else, that you can do this. Self-control is like a mental muscle. You have to exercise it in order to build its strength and make budgeting easier.

Pay the Bills First

bills

Another great way to save money is to pay bills as soon as they arrive or at the beginning of the month with your first paycheck. This will help you to prioritize your remaining money because you will only see what is left after your most important payments are done. Budgeting is all about learning your financial priorities. When you are saving your money, you have to realize what is most important to you and what the responsible monetary choices are.

Try listing all your monthly payments in order of importance. Include a payment into your saving account somewhere on this list as well. Then, when you get each paycheck, go through each payment on your priority list before you go about spending money on anything else. By doing this you will make savings more of a priority, and you’ll train yourself to make responsible money choices first before spending money on less important things.


6 Advantages of Using Checks

checks are better

Lots of people are still using checks and for good reasons.

Checks actually have their own unique advantages and features that you may be missing out on if you only use cash or cards. Here are the 6 main advantages of using checks:

  1. Checks are safer to mail
  2. Checks can’t be used by thieves
  3. Checks are traceable
  4. Checks aren’t deposited immediately
  5. You don’t need a bank account to cash checks
  6. Checks make budgeting easier

Lots of people are still writing checks. Writing checks may seem old-fashioned, but there are many advantages to writing checks instead of using cash or credit cards. Using cards and cash might be quicker and easier, but checks have features and security that cash and cards just don’t have. Below are some of the main reasons you want to start making good use of checks.

#1: Checks are safer to mail

Sending a check in the mail keeps your money a lot safer than sending cash through the mail. When you have a check inside an envelope it can be very difficult for others to tell there is even a check inside. But if you put cash in an envelope it can be much easier for others to tell there is money inside since bills have their own distinct shape, material, and color.

#2: Checks can’t be used by thieves

Checks are also less attractive to thieves than cash. Checks cannot be cashed by just anyone, and that is too much of a hassle for a thief. Thieves want quick cash and forms of money that are untraceable, and checks are neither of those things. Also, when you carry checks you don’t have to carry cash or cards on you, making you less of a target while you are out.

#3: Checks are traceable

This is another reason why checks are safer than other forms of payment—they’re traceable. When you use a check the bank makes a copy so you can easily prove the payments you’ve made. All the information you would ever need about a payment is also written on your check and the underlying copy. With each check you can know how much you spent, who you paid, when you paid, and even what you were paying for.

#4: Checks aren’t deposited immediately

Another attractive thing about checks is the timing. It usually takes businesses a day or two to actually cash the check that you’ve written for them. This means that you have a day or two to make sure you have the money in your account to cover the check. This can be risky to do, but as long as you handle your checks wisely, then you should be able to use this feature to your advantage.

checks are better

#5: You don’t need a bank account to cash checks

When you get paid through direct deposit you need to have a bank account set up. But if you get paid with checks then you don’t need to use direct deposit or a bank account. If you get paid with checks then you can just cash them, you don’t have to deposit them into a bank account or deal with electronic funds.

Check City offers convenient check cashing services for all of your check cashing needs. If you’ve been paid with a check you can come to any convenient Check City location and get that check cashed immediately. Check City will cash payroll checks, cashier checks, counter checks, government checks, insurance checks, money orders, tax refunds, personal checks, and even out-of-state checks. If you have a check, it is likely that Check City will be able to cash it for you.

#6: Checks make budgeting easier

Every time you write a check you are simultaneously writing your own personal receipt to go along with that purchase. These slips of paper can make budgeting super easy as you can keep those in your checkbook, and at the end of each week or month you can see an overview of all your spending in one convenient place.

Check Cashing with Check City

You may be wondering why you should come cash your check with Check City instead of going to your bank. Well, there are several reasons.

#1: Open Late

One reason is that our locations are open later than almost every bank or credit union. We have extended hours so you can come cash your check after work, or almost whenever you’d like. This makes it so you can get your cash sooner rather than later.

#2: Fast and Easy

Check City also understands how important your money is to you so we want to make sure the process of cashing your check is fast and easy. Our personable staff will make sure your transaction goes through as quickly as possible. As soon as you come in, we’ll be ready to help you and get you on your way.

#3: Low Rates

Check City also offers extremely low rates when it comes to cashing checks. We will not charge you much to cash your check with us, and the convenience of coming to one of our locations greatly outweighs the amount we’ll charge you to cash your check.

You Need:

All you’ll need to come cash your check at one of our locations is your check and your photo ID.

You Do:

All you’ll do is walk into one of our many locations, fill out a quick customer information form, and walk out with your cash in hand. Check City has locations in Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, and Maryland. At Check City, we want to make sure you get your money when you want it and how you want it. That’s why we offer convenient check cashing services that you are welcome to use anytime.

Cash Business Checks with Check City Too!

Check City also cashes business checks. This means that if people have paid your business in checks you can cash them easily here. In today’s credit driven economy, cash flow management is a challenging task for many small to medium-sized businesses. Check City has provided financial services to the public and its businesses since 1986 and we value the trusting relationship we’ve fostered with our communities ever since. Check City’s Business Check Cashing provides business owners immediate access to working capital by fast tracking the processing of checks to make your business funds available instantly. Cashing business checks at Check City is a great idea because there are 1) NO enrollment fees, 2) NO 3 to 10 day check processing holds, 3) the funds are available instantly, 4) gives your business the freedom to accept checks from your customers, and 5) we have convenient and professional locations.
 
Don’t waste your time thinking checks are a useless tool of the past. Checks are a useful financial product for personal and business use with their own unique features. Checks also provide a level of security in your transactions that cash does not. So don’t forget about this important tool in your financial arsenal and learn to use checks to their full advantage.

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