Disclosure: I’m kind of an idiot. Let me clarify: I spend a huge amount of my time teaching financial education, and have access to all the tips, tools, and trends that should help me be a budgeting super star.

But I’m totally not a budgeting super star, and I am really fighting to become the budgeter I’ve always wished I could be. I have recently taken advantage of a free online personal financial management tool, and I have but one question:

WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS SO MUCH SOONER???

There are many online budgeting tools out there: Mint, YNAB, GnuCash. In fact, your credit union might have one available through online banking. Mine currently doesn’t (we’re working on it), so I got started with Mint.

"I have a pretty robust budget spreadsheet, which I lovingly created in Excel, and which has set forth a good basic plan for my household to follow. The problem is that frequently, we don’t follow it."

The benefits of Mint, like many other budgeting platforms, are that it is super easy to use, and can give you a one-stop-snapshot of your whole financial picture. You can link all of your accounts, including checking, savings, plus your credit cards, retirement accounts, mortgages, and other loans. Mint tracks when your payments are due, analyzes your debt-to-income ratio, and even tells you how much of your spending is in different spending categories, like housing, food, entertainment, etc…

I have a pretty robust budget spreadsheet, which I lovingly created in Excel, and which has set forth a good basic plan for my household to follow. The problem is that frequently, we don’t follow it. When I try to figure out what happened to our bank account, I have to weed through a plethora of debit card transactions in online banking, manually adding everything up, to determine where we got so off track.

With a PFM tool (personal financial management) this is often done for you. When I login to Mint, I see an easy to understand dashboard that tells me where most of my spending has been occurring. Mint even recommends modified monthly budget goals to try and help curb our spending enthusiasm.

You have many tools available FOR FREE at your fingertips. They all offer different features, so to find the right one for you do a quick internet search or see if your credit union offers a PFM tool. Whether you are super nerdy like me and love numbers, or just want an easy-to-understand budget buddy, I’m confident the right tool for you is just a click away.