Level: Level is budgeting-light for newbies. Level takes your incoming paychecks and subtracts your fixed expenses, like your rent, car payment or student loan payment. Then it tells you what you have left over to spend on your variable expenses, like groceries, entertainment and more. It helps you manage your spending with credit cards and shows you the areas where you’ve spent more than planned and where you can cut back.
Review, Review and Review Some More
While the sites mentioned can be a great help in managing your budget, that doesn’t mean you can sit back and forget about budgeting (sorry). You need to check your budget each week and do a monthly review because life happens, your spending habits change and your budget will need to be adjusted.
Perhaps you come down with some illness and need ongoing expensive prescriptions, which means cutting back on your entertainment budget. Or you find out that you are spending way too much money going to the movies and decide to switch to Netflix so you can put more money towards your retirement fund. Actively monitoring your spending using credit card statements and budgeting tools can help you stay on target, adjust and meet your goals.
While credit cards get a bad rap, they can be a valuable tool in building a real-life budget that works. You can track and categorize spending, adjust categories and even earn money in rewards, but it requires real dedication and time commitments from you to work. It was a huge help to me, and many people can benefit from switching to a credit card-based budget to help you use your credit responsibly.