close up view of a hand holding bank notes

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Budgeting can be cumbersome but it doesn’t have to be. Back in the day budgeting meant writing your expenses in one column and income in another and “hoping” the two lined up. Now, free and low cost online budgeting tools make it easy to track everything from your spending to household bills and even retirement accounts.

Here are a few easy, user friendly tools that can help you maintain your budget online or on your smart phone:

Level Money is similar to an envelope system but customized for your smartphone. Once you establish spending and savings goals, the app lets you know what you can spend each day, week and month. You’re also provided a visual preview of how much you have left to spend to stay on track.

Mint is a very popular smartphone-based budgeting application. Your money is automatically tracked once you’ve entered basic information such as banking, credit and investment accounts. The default categories are enough for most people, but you can also add your own.

Excel Spreadsheet | This is free if you already have Microsoft Excel installed on your computer. Microsoft provides several simple budget templates, and if you’re familiar with Excel, they’re easy to use. You might also want to consider Google Sheets as an alternative. Maintaining a spreadsheet budget may require more time than some of the aforementioned options, but many experts believe the extra effort helps you have a better understanding of your money, which leads to better habits.

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