Many personal finance sites recommend using cash or cash envelopes to budget and manage your finances if you’re just getting started. But if you feel uncomfortable carrying around a bunch of cash, it is possible to manage your finances digitally. Here’s how to manage your finances with an online expense manager, without overspending.
Find The Best Online Expense Manager For You
Even as someone who loves using pen and paper, I knew right away that the cash envelope budgeting system wasn’t going to work for me.
- For one, I don’t have a job that pays me via check or has cash involved (like tips).
- For two, my bank isn’t anywhere near me, so taking out cash fairly often wouldn’t work for me.
So instead, I still write out my budget, but now I do it digitally. And, I can check in on my budget and manage my finances with just a click of a button. If you want to manage your finances digitally, here are some great options to use as an online expense manager.
Mint was the very first option that I used when I first started my digital planning journey. Although it didn’t work for me personally, it could work for you.
With Mint, you can track your monthly bills, set up a budget, and access your info via the website or the app. This is a great option for people who are always on the go, or who are just starting with their budget but aren’t used to tracking every dollar of their spending.
EveryDollar is Dave Ramsey’s creation and solution for people who wanted to use cash envelopes but didn’t or couldn’t. It’s an easy to use app that anyone can get started on in about 30 minutes or less (and that includes setting up your budget).
The app is free, although they do offer premium options (like connecting to your bank and pulling all of your transactions) for $129.99 a year. If you decide to go the premium route, you can get a trial for 15 days.
So how does EveryDollar work? When you first get started, you’ll start at the beginning of the month, so keep that in mind. For example, if you start planning on January 15th, the app will start with a February budget. From there, you’ll add your income, regular expenses, and other costs like gas, groceries, and spending.
Goodbudget is the app that I personally use and love. It works similar to EveryDollar, but what makes everything “click” for me is that it also uses the cash envelope system even though everything is digital. I also love that you can sync the budget across multiple devices, so it keeps both my husband and me on track.
This app is great if you are managing your finances with your significant other, need some accountability with your spending, or if you are trying to lower expenses. The app is free and has a premium version for $6 a month or $50 for the year.
How I Budget Using An Online Expense Manager
Now that I’ve told you about all of the great options that you can use to manage your finances digitally, I want to show you a quick breakdown of my own expenses. I use the Goodbudget app, but you can use any online expense manager that works for you.
Put Down Your Income
For Goodbudget, I have to create my envelopes before “filling” them with my income. My monthly spending is a little under $3,500 a month, including all bills, groceries, gas, etc. Once I’ve created my envelopes, I can then fill them with my income for the month, and anything leftover can be allocated to savings or to a separate envelope.
Add Your Expenses + Spending
This is where Goodbudget shines for me. I’m able to track my spending in the app, and so can my husband. You can also do this with the other apps by adding in your regular expenses (like bills, groceries, etc) and other expenses like one-off expenses (annual insurance payments) or spending you don’t do very often (like doctor’s appointments).
- Health Insurance
- Household + Pets (this is separate from groceries because I have a dog with epilepsy that can cost me a fortune some months and be okay others)
- Business Expenses – Subscriptions
- “TV” – For us that’s Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+
With the Goodbudget app, my husband and I check in once a week to see where we are at with our spending. Because we pay for the yearly option, our bank transactions are automatically added to Goodbudget.
However, if you use the free version, you’ll have to track your expenses manually. You can do this once a day by going through what you spent and “adding” the expenses into Goodbudget so you know where you are at financially.
Is Planning Your Finances Digitally a Smart Thing to Do?
I would say yes, as long as you keep up with it. But you could say the same about a written budget. I think digitally planning is smart if you don’t like pen and paper, but want to see where your money is going at all times. For me, budgeting gives me peace of mind, but I don’t have to write every single thing down to see where my money is going. An app does it better than I could, and I’m okay with that.
Do you use an online expense manager tool? Which do you use and why? Mint? EveryDollar? GoodBudget?
AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard
Kim Studdard is a strategy consultant and course launching expert. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or crying over This Is Us, you'll find her teaching other mompreneurs how to scale their business without scaling their workload.