You need some sort of spending plan to help you direct your resources. Here are some resources to help you with your household budgeting.
I'm not a real stickler for sticking to a strict budget. Indeed, my style is more of a loose spending plan. My spending plan focuses more on directing my resources. I know which things need to be taken care of first (bills, retirement contribution, emergency fund, etc.), and those things are covered. The rest of my money is just used for whatever I feel like that month. I know every dollar is supposed to have a job in some plans, but this way works for my family. As long as the most important things are taken care of, that's what matters.
However, the point is that I do have a plan, as loose a plan as it is. I track my spending so that I don't overspend. If you want keep your finances under control, and remain in charge of your finances, you need to put some sort of plan or budget together. Here are some resources to help you get started:
Personal Finance Software and Applications
I love using personal finance software. It's easy to keep track of everything, and you can usually create budgets and keep up with where you are at. Right now, I use Moneydance to keep track of my finances. But there are plenty of other programs out there. Some of them charge you, and others are free. Here are some of more popular places to start if you want help putting together a plan for your money:
- SavvyMoney (aimed at debt reduction)
With the help of these financial applications and software, it's possible for you to see where you're at, as well as plan for the future. Create a budget, plan what you want your money to accomplish on your behalf, and get started.
Free Budgeting Spreadsheets
I'm not a huge fan of the straight-up spreadsheet, but I know lots of people prefer to use a spreadsheet when it comes to budgeting. If you want to use a spreadsheet, here are a few free budgeting spreadsheets that you can download and use to get your finances on track:
- Personal Budget Worksheet template from Microsoft
- Dave's Budgeting Forms from Dave Ramsey
- Personal Budget Spreadsheet that works with Excel, OpenOffice and Google Docs
- Your Budget Spreadsheet available via Squawkfox
- Free Household Budgeting Work Sheet from Bankrate, also available as a printable PDF
- Budget Worksheets – not exactly a spreadsheet, but it is a an interesting online exercise
With the right tools, it's possible to plan for smart use of your money. Whether you have a zero-based budget that allots every single dollar every single month, or whether you work off a more general plan, it's possible to take control of your financial resources. Use the tools available for household financial planning, and you will have a better idea of what's happening with your money, and you will be able to take control so that your money is a tool, rather than a source of stress.