Which Budgeting Site is Best for You?

budget options

by Nicole Ryan, Student Blogger

Budgeting your finances can seem overwhelming. Especially as college students, worrying about finances is something new to many of us. When I first began college and had to start worrying how I’d pay for tuition, books, rent, food, and everything else that comes along with moving out and trying to be independent, I felt completely lost. More often than not, you don’t realize how important it is to keep track of your spending and how much money you have in the bank until an emergency happens, and you realize you haven’t really been budgeting at all. Catch yourself and start budgeting now before you run into financial trouble. Based on your lifestyle and spending habits one of these suggested sites may be the perfect budgeting site for you.

www.mint.com : Mint.com is a free, popular budgeting site that allows its users to view the big picture when it comes to their finances in an easy and accessible way. You are able to link all of your accounts to the site in order to keep track of your balance and spending patterns. There is a free downloadable app making mint.com easy to access wherever you are. Mint works great for those who enjoy being able to see their entire financial picture.

After reading about Mint.com I downloaded the app to see what it was like. I would definitely recommend this site for anyone who is new to budgeting their money. The site has a sleek design making it really easy to work with. They walk you through everything step by step so you aren’t confused and you know exactly what is going on with your money.

www.BudgetTracker.com : For those of you who don’t feel comfortable linking your bank accounts to a site or app, BudgetTracker is the perfect option. BudgetTracker allows you to manually enter account balances and transactions. You can schedule bill payments and get financial tips all without having to give any personal information. The site is simple and easy to use.

I read some reviews of BudgetTracker and saw nothing but great things being said. Although I haven’t personally used the site, this seems like a great option for anyone new to budgeting,

www.moneyright.com : Moneyright gives you advice on how to improve your finances. The site estimates your credit score and is even able to predict how long your money would last if you were to lose your job. This is great for people who really need guidance on how to manage their money properly.

I think Moneyright.com would be a great site to use in conjunction with something like Mint.com or another budgeting site. The site allows you to figure out the “what ifs” as well as giving you tips on how to avoid financial trouble.

www.yodlee.com : This site lets you track rewards programs and gives you details about your financial transactions.

This site is great to use if you’re the type of person who wants rewards for your spending. With Yodlee you’ll be up to date with all the different rewards programs companies have to offer.

www.levelmoney.com : Levelmoney gives you three simple budgets; one for the current day, one for the week, and one for the month. The site automatically updates spendable cash as you make purchases each day, providing a simple, real-time picture of how you’re doing.

Levelmoney is perfect for those who just can’t seem to set a budget for themselves. The site does all the hard work for you and updates as you spend. This is perfect for the over-spender in many of us.

www.estimize.com : This site gives you free estimates from large investors. Estimize crowdsources earnings and revenue for more than 900 companies from a community of over 17,000 users.

I would recommend this site to anyone who is interested in investing their money. This site will be a step by step guide that enables you to stay up to date with all your investments.

www.youneedabudget.com : YNAB 4 features Cloud Sync, making it easier than ever to stay focused on your budget and always up to date by staying in sync wherever there’s an internet connection. You’re able to have all of your financial information at your fingertips. YNAB lets you create categories where you can set aside money for certain spending needs. For example, you can create a ‘car insurance’ category and set aside the money you will need to make that payment ahead of time.

I think this is a great site to use for anyone who is struggling to budget their money. It’s simple to use and can be accessed almost everywhere.

The best thing you can do when it comes to managing your money is to find a budgeting site that works best for you. It’s so difficult to try to save money or avoid overspending when you aren’t budgeting properly. By using a budgeting site, you can always be aware of your spending patterns, how your finances are looking, and what you need to improve on. For college students this can be a life saver!  By budgeting and managing your money properly you can make sure you are saving properly throughout school so that when graduation comes you aren’t looking at an empty bank account.

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A Smart Budgeting Tool: The 50/30/20 Rule

by Yuchen Wu, Student Blogger

Last weekend, I found a secret when I accompanied my friends shopping at the Flatiron Crossing Mall. Yingying is picky and she only wants to pay for the perfect apparel, whereas Cyril always opts for something affordable and doesn’t care about “perfection.” As a result, Yingying bought a $60 blue woven scarf while Cyril bought $30 jeans and some cheap T-shirts. While I was surprised about the two’s distinctive shopping philosophies, I started to wonder what their budgeting habits look like. What astonished me was that both of them felt that they only spend about 30 percent of their budgets on shopping.
Woman Money in Wallet

It reminds me of the 50/30/20 rule, which basically states that 50 percent of one’s budget should be spent on “needs,” 30 percent should be spent on “wants,” and 20 percent should be saved. The rule is coined by a Harvard bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi in their book “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.” My two friends, apparently, are fans of this rule and they are benefitting from it. So, I thought I should share this smart rule to help people with their money management.

Basically, the 50/30/20 rule outlines the following four steps:

Step One: Calculate Your After-Tax Income

In general, your budget is the amount you collect from all your paychecks after taxes. This after-tax income will be how much you can spend.

Step Two: Limit Your Needs to 50 Percent

A need is any payment that would severely impact your quality of life, such as housing, insurance, utilities, and groceries. According to the rule, spending on the “needs” should be no more than 50 percent of your after-tax income.

Step Three: Limit Your Wants to 30 Percent

A want is any payment that you can forgo with only minor inconvenience, like beautiful shoes, a movie, or a trip to Paris. Sometimes you will buy a “want” that upgrades to a “need.” For instance, you want to have a faster speed of internet or an upgraded cable bill. Although 30 percent sounds great, you may spend more on “wants” than you think.

Step Four: Spend at Least 20 Percent on Savings and Debt repayments

According to the 50/30/20 rule of thumb, you should spend at least 20 percent of your after-tax income paying your debts repayments, such as credit card balances, or saving money for emergency use.

All in all, where and how much to spend money is a deeply personal thing, but knowing this simple “rule” can help with your money management!

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