While there are many benefits to saving money regularly, not all of us can manage to do so through willpower alone. Theses tips and tools can help you find more savings dollars and simplify your ability to save.
Online budgeting and saving tools
Online tools that help with budgeting and saving can be a real advantage to your finances, by helping you get better organised with minimum effort.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) publishes MoneySmart, which is a great place to start. The website provides a host of resources, including calculators and checklists, that can help give you direction and motivate you to achieve your financial goals.
It’s not just budgeting and saving calculators — they have online tools that can help you plan every aspect of your financial management, including personal loans, credit cards, mortgages, income tax, compound interest, and super.
Finding extra savings
The MoneySmart budget planner is the ideal first stop, because a well-organised budget is the best way to find extra dollars to allocate toward your savings plans. This budget planner allows you to build a detailed record of your income and expenses, and save it either online or onto a pre-formatted Excel document which you can save to your computer for easy access and updating.
A handy “wizard” function allows you to quickly customise the budget to your specific situation. If you find the prospect of having to plan and project your expense hard to face, there is a “simple money manager” tool, which has audio explanations for each step of the budgeting process to encourage you to get your budget up and running.
Keeping track day-to-day
Once your budget is established, MoneySmart can also assist you with keeping running track of your spending, through a smartphone app called TrackMySPEND. This powerful app allows you to easily track your progress against pre-set spending limits, separate “needs” and “wants” to identify opportunities to save, and view your expense history to pinpoint problem areas. You can synchronise it across multiple devices, as well as back up your data and download to an Excel spreadsheet, if you want to analyse your spending patterns more closely.
Apart from MoneySmart’s tools, there are similar budgeting apps such as Pocketbook, which links directly to your bank accounts, credit cards, and loans so you can keep track of your spending and your account information all in the one place.
Your banks will almost certainly offer their own in-house app for customers, so it is worth checking with them, too.
Once you are ready to save…
Once you have taken control of your expenses, you may find you have more potential to save than you first thought. To make the most of those discretionary dollars, there are tools available that can help you maximise and organise your savings goals.
ASIC’s MoneySmart offers an app called TrackMyGOALS, which not only allows you to set, prioritise, track, and manage your savings goals, but also provides powerful ways to visualise your progress towards achieving those goals, so that you can stay motivated and empowered.
Help yourself and get some help
Using tools like these can help you take positive action on your budgeting and saving, and stop the vicious cycle of living from payday to payday. A financial planner can also be a great source of ideas to power your budgeting and saving abilities, and can integrate that daily money management into a wider financial plan to grow your wealth creation.
What is your greatest budgeting or savings tip? Share your ideas below.