If you can’t pay the bills, what’s the point in having a budget? you may ask. Budget is another word for a spending plan. Just like you make a meal plan or a vacation plan, you’ll want to have a spending plan. If you don’t, you may never achieve some of your life goals or goals you have for your children.

In our last two blogs, we’ve talked about the importance of having a plan. In the first blog post, we focused on using the cash envelope system. When you do, you will actually decrease your spending. If you missed the blog or want to review it, read it here.

In our second blog post on spending plans, we talked about using per cents. You can read it here.

Now, all this may seem overwhelming to you. But once you figure out a system that works for you and get into the habit of using it, it will actually be a stress reducer. One way to make a spending plan easier to follow and update is to get an app that works for you.

Because Hope for Single Moms recommends the cash envelope system, where you put aside your monthly income toward specific categories in envelopes or virtual envelopes, we recommend the Goodbudget app. Your bank accounts are not connected to the app, which might be a drawback. But you can manually add your bank account balances (from your bank’s website). You can, then, assign your money to the various envelopes or categories you created. It is accessible from your phone and the web. There are also helpful articles and videos that help you use the app.

Goodbudget’s free version allows one account, two devices and a limited number of envelopes. The paid version, Goodbudget Plus, allows an unlimited number of accounts, up to five devices and unlimited envelopes. It is $7 per month or $60 per year.

Mint is a very popular budgeting app and ranks pretty much #1 on every budgeting site we looked at. With Mint, you get to see your total financial life, including bank accounts, bills, credit cards, and investments into a single location. A user links their Mint account with their personal bank account. Then, as transactions occur, Mint receives the financial information and provides customizable reports. The same process is done with every account you have. This way, you can see your bills and money in one place.

A nice feature of Mint is that it automatically puts your spending into budget categories. You get an unlimited number of categories, which you can personalize and set a spending limit for. Then, you get a notice from Mint if you’re approaching your limit.

The app also shows you your credit score and that will be encouraging as your score goes up. There is also a lot of support for using the app.

If you’re searching for an app in which you plan ahead for your money, rather than track it after the fact, then other apps may work better for you.

EveryDollar is a free budgeting app. But, to get the app’s extra features, you must become a Ramsey+ member. We mentioned the Dave Ramsey plan in our first blog. Besides the upgraded app, the Ramsey+ membership includes off-app features, such as audiobooks and courses.

The free version is simple. You don’t sync accounts but manually enter incoming and outgoing money throughout the month. You also categorize line items in your budget and set reminders for bill payments.

With Ramsey+, you can connect your bank accounts so it’s easier to track your transactions. You can also track debts, see reports on how you spent your money and print your transaction history. You can try Ramsey+ for free for 14 days. After that, it’s $59.99 for three months, $99.99 for six months or $129.99 for 12 months.

If you’re old school and like paper and pen, then Hope for Single Moms highly recommends the resources at Nerd Wallet. Not only are there free resources, but there are great articles on just about anything and everything related to money. They even have a tool you can put your money numbers in that helps you set up your spending plan.

And now, to your kids. If they get an allowance, then they’re ready for a spending/ savings plan of their own. Greenlight has a great chore app for your kids and great articles for you. Do you pay for chores? Do you pay for good grades? They answer your questions and probably have answers for some questions you haven’t thought of yet. Check Greenlight out.

Hopefully, this helps you get started. There are a lot of other apps and resources out there. Just remember, choose what works best for you and your family and don’t forget, it’s okay to change if something isn’t working well for you. Keep it simple so you’ll do it.

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