Money-saving New Year’s resolutions aren’t the easiest ones to keep. Along with cutting back on sweets, I resolved to save more money this year and I quickly realized that budgeting would be essential. To make sure I stay motivated throughout the year, I began searching for the best online budgeting tools to keep me on track with my goals.
In my search, I realized that major life events come with special expenses, and that some tools are better than others to help manage those times. In this article I’ll share with you my favorite online budgeting tools for five major life events so that you can get a head start on saving!
1. Online Budgeting Tool for College Students
For many people, college brings the first real taste of independence. It’s the first time away from your parents, the first time living on your own, cooking for yourself and doing your own laundry. It can also be the first time you’re in control of your own earnings, so it’s important to learn how to stretch your college budget and establish good financial habits.
Mint.com is a fantastic online budgeting tool for college students because it connects to your bank account and categorizes your purchases and earnings. You can create a budget to help you reach your goals, and receive weekly financial summaries that highlight your spending habits and your financial health. It’s free to sign up, and you can access your account online or via a mobile app, making it a great option for college students on-the-go.
2. Budget Template for Brides and Grooms
Getting married is another special and significant time in a person’s life, but it’s no secret that dream weddings tend to come with hefty price tags.
No matter what type of ceremony or reception you plan on having, budgeting for your wedding will help give you peace of mind, and ensure that you’ve got some money left over for the honeymoon!
This Wedding Budget Template from the Brideside blog is an especially useful tool to take advantage of when planning your big day. It includes a lengthy list of obvious costs, as well as some not-so-obvious costs, so you can budget for everything from the wedding dress down to the postage on your invitations. As you fill in the various costs, you can see the running total at the top of the page, always letting you know where you stand, budget-wise.
3. Budgeting Template for Young Professionals
For post-grads who may not have gotten the hang of budgeting in college, the good news is, it’s never too late to start! Similar to undergrad, life after college brings a lot of new experiences and expenses. Along with adjusting to a full-time job and salary, you’ll likely have to make monthly payments for things like rent, insurance and student loans.
Budgeting tools can make new responsibilities feel less overwhelming for young professionals who have recently been thrust into the real world.
In addition to using Mint.com to track where you’re money’s coming and going, I recommend the Four-Step Budget from the blog Life After College. For each month, the template forces you to separate your “must-have” expenses from your “nice-to-have” expenses–or the fun things that you know you’ll spend money on anyway (brunch, anybody?). What’s left over is your monthly “allowance”, or the funds that you can spend more freely.
Best of all, this online budgeting tool encourages you to pay yourself first by making savings a “must-have” expense, setting you up for long-term financial success.
4. Online Budgeting Tool for a New Baby
Similar to weddings, babies come with many costs that can add up quickly. Planning ahead for the first year of your baby’s life will help you determine exactly what you need to buy, and it will give you time to shop around for the best deals on baby gear (a win-win!).
The First-Year Baby Costs Calculator from BabyCenter calls attention to all types of costs that come up in the first year of a baby’s life — accounting for everything from strollers to car seats to birth announcements. While you might be surprised to find out just how expensive the first-year can be, planning out your expenses and sticking to a budget will take some weight off your shoulders so you can focus on spending quality time with your new bundle of joy.
5. Online Budgeting Template for a Frugal Family
Household budgets may be one of the more difficult to create and keep track of because there are so many moving parts. However, maintaining a family budget is especially important as it lets you plan for both anticipated and unexpected life events such as new jobs, moves or more children.
The Family Budget Planner by Vertex42 accounts for the many bills and expenses associated with a busy household, and breaks it down month-to-month so you can plan in the short term, while keeping an eye on your long-term financial health. The template also has built-in categories for the more important things in life, like family vacations, education and charity.
Regardless of what life stage you’re in, budgeting can help you maximize your earnings, spend more wisely and establish good saving habits to ensure you’ve always got some cash in the bank!
Simple online budgeting tools and templates can take the headache out of crafting a well-thought out budget, making it easy to track your habits, plan for the future and treat yourself along the way. If you still find yourself struggling with saving, check out these 7 easy budget tips to get you started and keep you on track!
What do you save your money for and what motivates you to keep budgeting? Share with us in the comments section below!