It feels like these days were all being expected to make our money stretch further than ever, and for those of us who struggle with budgeting, the monthly reckoning of accounts can feel like a never-ending nightmare. While there’s something to be said for the old-fashioned method of sitting down with a pencil and paper and working out your monthly outgoings, many of us simply aren’t that organised – or once it’s established, simply can’t stick to the plan.
Luckily, nowadays there are a number of ways in which technology can help us keep our personal budget under control. While some people still view technology itself as an unnecessary expense, the reality is that it is increasingly hard to survive without it in our current society, and if used wisely, can actually save us money.
For instance, there are a number of apps and computer software that help you keep track of your finances, whether from your PC, your laptop or your mobile phone. Programmes such as Mint, Quicken or Microsoft Money have all earned fans who find the software useful in viewing all their financial accounts together, tracking bills and keeping payments on schedule. For many of us, having this general overview is all it takes to keep matters on track – it’s far more difficult for payments to slip through the cracks and be forgotten.
Sometimes setting up regular, pre-authorised payments is the best way to keep control of our spending. For example, if you have a pay-as-you-go phone, it can be hard to track how much you’re actually spending on phone use – and it can quickly get out of hand. Scheduled top ups are a good way to spread out your mobile expenses, so you always know how much you’ll be spending and can plan accordingly. Lebara Mobile lets you schedule a top up at regular, recurring intervals – either weekly, or monthly, depending on what works for you – through your free online account. It’s quick, easy, and means you’re unlikely to get caught out without credit when you need it.
Meanwhile, there are lots of handy smartphone apps that let you keep a closer eye on your spending. Mobile banking apps mean you can check on your accounts on the go, while price comparison apps like Red Laser, Shop Savvy or Mysupermarketmobile let you find the cheapest deal on products and services while you’re shopping. Apps like Grocery iQ let you compile grocery shopping lists on your phone, meaning you’ll never forget to bring that little scrap of paper along and hence won’t be left randomly impulse buying rather than just picking up the things you really need.
If you find your budget is simply too tight to be workable, find ways to reduce your basic expenses through the use of money-saving gadgets. For instance, try energy-saving lightbulbs, low-flow showerheads, and an electricity useage monitor to reduce your household bills. Or consider investing in a proper coffee maker and water filtration jug – in the long run they will save you money on takeaway coffee and bottled water.
Do you keep to a budget? How do you manage your spending?