When it comes to our finances, most of us adopt a ‘head in the sand’ approach. Money comes in and money goes out. How that happens is mostly a mystery. But living from one payday to the next is not the ideal. Not if there are any hopes of building a nest egg, buying a home or taking that long-desired overseas holiday.
So how do we achieve all of our life ideals? We do it by taking charge of what happens to our bank accounts. By carefully considering each and every cent we spend. By keeping track of our expenses and comparing it to our income. And last, but not least, by living within our means.
But what if percentages, ledgers and sums-of create nothing but confusion in your head? Is the only option to enlist the services of a financial planner? If you have access to the internet (and since you’re reading this, you do), then the answer is no. You need nothing more than an internet connection to manage your finances from this day forward.
Manage your monthly budgetThe internet is awash with online money management tools. There are options for everyone, from budgeting rookies to families and those looking to get out of debt.
The simpler budgeting tools, like PearBudget, ask you to enter your income and monthly expenses, both fixed and variable, and help you draw up a budget. Some tools make it as easy as dragging and dropping suggested expenses into place! You just check in weekly or monthly to ensure that your finances stay on track.
Other budget tools enable more editing and return more information, in the form of graphs, pie charts and informational snippets. These are more suited to families, someone with an investment portfolio, or anyone who’s consciously working towards a big goal.
Enter into big buys with peace of mindAs mentioned, we have to live within our means and while budget tools can help us do this month-to-month, specialist online money management tools assist us with big life purchases.
Home loan affordability calculators, for instance, will help you calculate how much you can afford to spend on a new home. In the same way, a mortgage calculator will tell you how much you’ll spend a month on that home you’re eyeing. Both of these are great tools to have access to, because a home is not something you want to overspend on. You’ll be doing it every month for the next 20 years, remember!
Buying a car is another big purchase all of us makes at least once in our life. In this instance, ensuring that you stay within your means is as easy as consulting a purchase price calculator or vehicle repayment calculator. As the names suggest, the former looks at total cost, while the latter deals with monthly repayments.
Some of the tools you’ll find online will come at a cost, but finding a free tool won’t be hard. And rest assured that the free tools are just as good, if not better, than those you have to pay to use. Mint, for instance, is free and one of the most recommended budgeting tools.
Now all you have to do is find the right tool for you. Then make it a habit to manage your money. Before you know it, you’ll be jetting off into the sunset - with money left over to put away for a rainy day.
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