Staying on top of your budget is no easy task, especially when you have a busy schedule. Between work, family life, social events, and personal errands it can seem impossible to balance your finances on your own. Balancing your finances is simple when you take advantage of the online and electronic resources that are available.
Here’s the LoanMart list of how to balances your finances online and electronically, and guess what? None of these tips will cost you a penny!
Do your banking online
Having your banking information available on your phone will make budgeting your money so much easier. How often do you check Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram on your phone? Think about how better off you would be if you were as connected to your bank account as you were to your social media accounts.
Most major banks have a mobile app you can download straight to your phone. You have access to mobile banking if you bank with any of the following banks:
- Bank of America
- Fifth Third Bank
- U.S. Bank
- Capital One
- BMO Harris
- TD Bank
It’s important to be on top of your checking account (and savings account if you have one) in order to keep track of how much money you actually have. It is a definite hassle to find an ATM or go to your bank when you want to know what’s in your accounts. With a mobile banking app, you can know exactly what your banking balances are with the touch of a button.
Track your bills and payments
It seems the older we get, the more bills and payments we become responsible for. A mortgage or rent, student loans, medical bills, car payments, and more can be difficult to track all by yourself.
To better keep track of your bills and payments you have a couple options. You can make an old school spreadsheet on your computer and compile a list of all of your financial obligations—mark the due dates and then all you have to do is make your payments according to your spread sheet. Or, if you would like something a little more interactive you can try using the Mint Money Manager. Mint is a website that allows you to track and pay your bills, don’t worry about missing a due date! With Mint, you can also track your credit score and investments to get an even better picture of what your financial situation looks lie.
Set financial goals
If you want to improve at anything in life, have it be fitness, academics, or managing your money, you should set goals and strive to achieve them. Setting goals for yourself gives you something specific and manageable to accomplish, instead of just having one large ambiguous goal to “be better.”
Break out that spreadsheet again and think about what you want to achieve. Use this time to think about your not-so-productive habits when it comes to money and try to break them. Some attainable financial goals you can set for yourself are:
- Cook at home during the week – spending $7-10 dollars on a take-out meal for yourself really starts to add up fast. When you buy some healthy groceries for the week and cooking at home instead of eating fast-food junk, you can help your wallet as well as your body all at the same time.
- Give yourself a 24 hours grace period before you make online purchases – how many times have you bought something online (probably at 2am while you were scrolling through your Amazon wish list) only to think, what the heck was I thinking, when your item arrived?
- Do free things with friends – sometimes trying to save money can seem intimidating, or even embarrassing when we are around friends. Instead of going out to the bars and spending $60 on drinking, have a fun game night at home with your pals instead. Spending quality time with your friends is what’s important anyway.
Stay informed with accurate financial resources
Economic trends change almost as often as the latest seasonal fashion. Stay on top of what’s going on with current and reliable financial resources. You may think your local news broadcast will keep you informed of any big changes, but this might not always be the case. If you want accurate information, you have to do a little researching yourself.
Thankfully I’ve done some of the digging for you. Here are some fantastic resources to check out for the most up-to-date economic news, trends, and answers to your financial questions:
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- Federal Trade Commission
- The Balance
Keep track of your income
Sometimes circumstances like knowing your payday is coming up or knowing a friend owes you money can trick you into thinking you have more money than you really do. Keep track of the exact dates of when you are scheduled to have money coming in so you don’t fool yourself into thinking you have more than you really do.
You can use Mint for this, or you can set a reminder on the calendar on your phone or computer. Have notifications sent to you electronically on the actual day you are getting paid, and try to avoid setting them for a day or two before.
When you know how much money you have, and when you will have it, you can make better plans for yourself financially. Go grocery shopping when you get paid, instead of when you open up your cabinets and find nothing there. Set money aside for the next week instead of blowing your whole check on a fun weekend. Stay in tuned with your financial situation so you can set yourself up for success.
Regularly check your credit score
Despite widespread belief, checking your own credit score does not lower your credit score. But it is important to check your own credit score with a reputable source if you don’t want the inquiry to affect your score.
Most banks, credit card providers, and other reputable financial services have a feature that allows you to check on your credit score whenever you want. (Hint: Mint has a feature like this too!)
But what does affect your credit score is what are called “hard inquiries.” Hard inquiries occur when someone else checks on your credit score, like credit card companies or retail stores. This means every time you apply for a credit card, or apply for a store credit in a department store, your credit score takes a hit. Unless it is absolutely necessary, you want to avoid these kinds of hard inquiries into your credit score.