6 budgeting sites that can help renters (or anyone) manage finances
Renters are often budget-conscious and eager to embrace new ways to save a little extra money. Mint.com is as well known as any budgeting and financial planning website, but there are a host of others that offer top-notch financial planning services, many of them more precisely targeted toward specific needs. Check these sites out to see if one or more has the tools you need to start saving money:
LearnVest offers daily-weekly-monthly financial planning for novices. The site recommends a spending split of 50% on essentials (groceries, gas, rent), 30% on lifestyle (entertainment, travel), and 20% on priorities (debt payment, retirement savings): you compare what you are spending to the LearnVest baselines and the site offers advice on how to make improvements. The website also has a “Learning Center” filled with helpful articles and applications, and if you want to talk to one of their experts it’s free. I’d buy that for a dollar! The site is geared toward women but offers helpful advice and services for anyone.
Budget Pulse does what many of these other sites do – budgeting, planning, payment calculations – but it does not link to your financial accounts, which is an attractive solution for anyone who is phobic about sharing personal information. This also puts constraints on what Budget Pulse can do and adds ease-of-use issues but if you are willing to put in the extra work of inputting individual transactions or importing Quicken files, this could be the site for you.
If you struggle with regular overspending, Mvelopes is a great site to help you rein in your worst excesses. You input your monthly cash available, then divvy it up into digital envelopes that represent spending categories: groceries, bills, entertainment, etc. Site CEO Steve Smith says the average user cuts spending by 10%, which sounds like a reasonable claim. The free membership allows you to link four financial accounts and create twenty five envelopes. The $10/mo. membership gets you additional budgeting tools and planning services.
If you respond to the challenge of accumulating gaming bling, Payoff might just be able to entice you into saving money. Payoff allows you to conveniently link accounts and view transactions in one place so you can set up goals: paying off bills, retiring debt, starting an emergency fund. Along the way you earn various badges, medals, and statuses that mark your progress and provide you with a trophy shelf to admire. Some prizes are more tangible, including $25 cash, airline miles, and more.
Ready For Zero
This site claims active users can pay down debts twice as quickly – that’s a bold statement but Ready For Zero puts a lot of tools at your disposal designed to help you pay down large debts. Create a personal debt repayment plan, based upon your monthly payment capacity or when you want the debt retired by. Ready For Zero helps you track interest expenses, the money you save by compressing the payment schedule, and more. Along the way, track your progress and Ready For Zero will add some helpful tips to accelerate the process.
The original engine for Mint (before Intuit got involved), Yodlee is now its own thing… and it’s a pretty good thing if you want simple but effective overview of your spending habits. Choose apps to power your account and customize your dashboard to have the information you need at your fingertips. Special bonus: an H&R Block tax app helps you find deductions and provides an estimate of your tax bill.
Each of these website offers some level of free services – experiment with each until you find the one that helps you save the most.