Divya Sainathan is a writer and editor with a special interest in early childhood education.
With New Year just around the corner, here are our top picks for budgeting apps that can help you plan a family budget for 2021 and stick to it
Haven't we been looking forward to 2021 desperately, aching to leave the spectre of the COVID-19 pandemic behind in a truly unfortunate 2020? We've spent close to a year in our pajamas, trying to stay afloat as work and school invaded our homes and social lives became virtual. We've had a chance to reflect on what matters most to us. And what better time than New Year's to put our new-found perspective into practice? Let's invest our time, effort and of course, our money, in the people, things, experiences and places we value and cherish.
The New Year spirit infects us with hope and fills us with resolve. So, strike while the iron is hot. Plan out your family's finances. Make a budget plan that accounts for all your essential expenses, accommodates your passions and interests, and leaves breathing space for emergencies. If you are not sure how to go about this, take pointers from an expert.
Ever been stumped by a CC bill, wondering how you ran up such a spend? Been caught unawares by an unexpected expense from your kids' school? Found yourself in a tight spot because of a washing machine that conked out or a vehicle service that bled your wallet? We've all been there, and rued the day we stopped tracking our expenditure and setting buffer money aside.
Rohini Hariharan, a cost accountant working with a private firm in Chennai, swears by budgeting, both personal and family.
"Budgeting is essential to strike a balance between your income and expenses, especially if you are on a tight leash of monetary inflow. A budget helps us analyse our expenses, so that we can identify and reduce unwanted ones. We can then plan for better saving, and make ad-hoc provision for contingencies or emergencies", she explains.
If you've grabbed pen-and-book or opened a spreadsheet and typed 'Family Budget - 2021' in bold + underline, hold your horses. The budgeting game has evolved, getting handier and more intuitive than ever before, thanks to budgeting apps.
A budgeting app is a software that helps you manage your personal finances. Even though many of these apps have their origin in the humble spreadsheet, they provide several additional features that go beyond just balancing credit and debit.They allow you to:
As parents, we already have so much on our minds with work, home management and childcare. Money management can just pile on the stress. Expense tracking apps help take some of that mental load off, by keeping us updated and in control of our money flow.
Here's our round-up of the best budgeting apps to help you stay on top of your finances the coming year-at your fingertips and in your pockets.
A highly rated Indian expense tracking app, Walnut helps you understand where your money is going. By noting your digital/online transactions through your SMS alerts, the app completely automates expense tracking and categorization.
Satya Sreenath raves about his experience with the app,
"It's wonderful! I use it to track my expenses and due payments. Its pie-charts give me a clear idea of where I spend the most. I also like the alarms it allows me to create, to control unwanted expenses."
Widely considered one of the best budgeting apps in the game, YNAB specializes in helping clients prioritize their spending, manage their debt, save more and work steadily towards their financial goals. It follows the zero-based budget approach (dividing a month's income down to the last cent into various categories-expenses, savings and debts, broadly speaking).
This is an extremely popular budgeting app that links to your bank and credit accounts and automatically updates your income, expenses and savings. Of all the free budget trackers available in the market, Mint is the most comprehensive.
A product of the Times Group, this app is best suited for managing savings and investments. It is an integrated platform that offers a wide range of services from expense tracking and instant loans to investment in mutual funds, insurance and NPS.
This app uses the double-entry system to track income and expenses. This makes it a fool-proof, no-nonsense personal finance tracker as reflected in its simple and fuss-free user interface. It has an advance budgeting feature that allows you to set monthly budgets for different categories.
Based on the envelope system (where money is assigned to each 'envelope' according to your needs and wants), Goodbudget lets you actively decide how to allocate your income to various categories. It is eminently suitable for household budgeting.
Budgeting apps can greatly simplify financial decision making for us. They empower us with up-to-date, consolidated data of our personal finances, so we can make informed spending/investing decisions on the go. They shine light on our own tendencies and inclinations, helping us cut back on avoidable expenses and put our money where our heart goes. When used to their full potential, these apps can be truly powerful and life changing.
Here's wishing you a productive and fulfilling 2021. May you find the self-control to stick to your budget, the good fortune to swell savings and investments, and the resolve to see your plans through to fruition!
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Written by Divya Sainathan on 8 December 2020.
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