Budgeting is a simple concept that’s not easy to do. Budgeting starts by looking at household income and comparing it with your spending to determine how strictly you’ll have to control spending to meet your financial goals.
It all seems simple, and it can be, but when you’re part of a family, it can also be complicated and chaotic. Your money is being spent left and right, and it’s hard to keep track of it all.
There’s an app for that.
Several apps, in fact, can make creating and sticking to a budget easy. Budgeting apps help track all your expenses as well as set goals and save for them.
YNAB (You Need a Budget)
It may have a clever name, but this is a serious budgeting app. It’s helpful for saving for big things for your family, such as a car or a down payment on a home. It does it all.
- Syncs your bank accounts
- Shares budget and financial planning with your spouse
- Bill management features
- Investment tracking
- Around-the-clock personal support to help
- Available for Windows, Android, iOS, and even Apple Watch
It’s free for the first month, and then the subscription is $11.99 per month or $83.99 per year.
Honeyfi is a budgeting app that allows couples to stay on the same page when it comes to their finances. It automatically syncs all your bank, credit card, loan, and investment accounts 3-4 times per day so that you don’t have to enter them manually. It looks at your spending history, recommends a budget, and allows you to add notes and comments to your spouse. It’s free for iOS and Android.
Zeta is for couples who want to track their spending together or separately. Link accounts and set up personalized categories, and use the handy bill reminder feature to avoid missing a payment. It shows where your money is going in shared or individual accounts. Coaching sessions help take the stress out of sharing finances. Zeta links with most banking institutions. It’s free for computers as well as mobile devices running iOS or Android.
Goodbudget is one of the most popular budgeting apps for your household. One of the most effective ways to budget your spending used to be stuffing cash into envelopes that were dedicated to each expense. Most people do their banking online these days, so this method had nearly gone extinct until apps such as Goodbudget came along. It emulates the old tried-and-true envelope method with digital “envelopes” that you allot to each expense.
It allows you to set goals and track your progress, check real-time expenses on the go, and look at up to five years of historical data. Goodbudget also allows you to sync up to five devices so that the entire family can get in on the fun.
PocketGuard is all about making it simple. It allows you to sync all your accounts and spending into one place so that you can see the big picture. Set your goals, and the app does the budgeting for you, saving you the time and hassle of doing it yourself. Get notifications of upcoming bills or unexpected charges, and use the Lower Your Bills feature in the Overview section to find ways to save even more by negotiating your current rates, along with other ways to save. The app is available for iOS and Android with a subscription price of $3.99 per month or $34.99 per year.
When you’re single, you’re in control of your finances. It’s your income, your spending, and your financial goals. It’s up to you and you alone to control spending. Once a family comes along, your expenses multiply, and with multiple people spending, it’s all too easy to lose track of where your money is going.
A good budgeting app is a great place to start your journey to a more financially fit life, but as a family, you need to do more.
Other Things to Do
Work Together: Even if you decide as a couple to keep your income and expenses separate, there will be shared living expenses. It’s important to agree to work together to not only reach your goals but to work fairly so that one person isn’t doing all the sacrificing while the other spends freely.
Be Honest with Each Other: Communicate honestly about the financial choices you’re making. If one spouse wants to save for a new minivan while the other has a sports car in mind, that’s something that needs to be decided together. Being honest will help keep you on the same page when it comes to your finances.
Have Fun: One of the most important things as a couple or as a family is to enjoy the time that you have together. Being on a strict budget can put a damper on the fun. Many fun activities exist that are cheap or free, but it’s important to allow for some splurging now and then, whether it’s a small thing each week, or a family vacation down the line. Include some wiggle room for entertainment in your budget. Time flies faster than you think, and while financial stability is an important part of relieving some of the stress in your life, the people you love are the most important things.