Here's a quick list of why you should budget. Budgeting keeps you focused on financial goals, it gives you control over your money, it prevents you from spending money you don't have, it gives you a security net in emergencies, it helps you plan your life, and it lets you save extra money.
And here's a quick list of reasons people—us included—have sometimes neglected keeping a budget: it's time-consuming, it's difficult thard to think about the future, math is tedious, and budgeting gets more complex the more people, pets, and possessions are in your life.
We have some good news, though. All the reasons people—again, we've been there—skip budgeting can be fixed with a good budgeting app. They are simple, can link to your accounts, and do the math for you. Here are five of our favourites, in no particular order, all of which are available for Canadians.
Here's the biggest reason we like Mint: from one screen, we can see account and credit card balances, our credit score, recent transactions, and how much is left in different household budgets. It's not all big picture, though. Once you link Mint to your accounts and credit cards, Mint will alert you to unusual charges and even send you customised tips about reducing bank fees.
PocketGuard is a great app for someone who is just starting to budget or for someone who wants to bring analytics to their spending. Basically, PocketGuard links to your account and can always tell you how much cash is 'in your pocket'—which is pretty basic, really. The cool thing is what comes next: as you spend money, PocketGuard analyzes how much you spend and where you spend it. Then you can read weekly or monthly spending reports, see where your money really goes, and cut back accordingly.
Maybe you've heard of the 'envelope system' for budgeting. People used to write categories on envelopes (entertainment, clothes, dining out, etc.), put money they budgeted for those categories in the envelopes at the top beginning of the month, and once an envelope was empty that budget category was exhausted. Good system, but now that people are mostly digital (along with their money), there's an app that replicates the 'envelope system'. It's called GoodBuget, and the neat thing is that multiple people can use it at the same time. That way, you don’t have to reconcile your entertainment budget with your spouse at the end of the day—you just check the app.
You probably don't get many bills in your mailbox any more, and Canada Post has noticed. That's why they launched epost, an app that lets you consolidate all your bills and statements in one easy app. It'll keep records of everything for five to seven years, which is handy come tax time, and you can link to your bank for easy payments.
If you've ever wanted to track your budget the same way you might track expenses for a business trip, then Wally is the app you're looking for. You can type expenses in or log them with a picture of the receipt, which is pretty cool. Wally also gives you notifications for bills due or spending goals achieved—which is good, because sometimes positive reinforcement helps too.