The Best Tools for Managing Household Finances

The Best Tools for Managing Household Finances

(Image: File)

If you struggle to keep track of an ever-growing collection of financial paperwork, this tool is for you. FileThis is a digital filing cabinet that automatically uploads financial account information, bills, W-2s,  health insurance information, tax documents, and other essential paperwork from banks to insurance companies. All the data is encrypted and can be downloaded (or deleted) at any time. The “freemium” model offers free automatic uploads from up to six institutions, and then costs $2 a month for up to 12 connections to institutions. The rates increase with additional connections.

Sometimes people just need extra cash for things. Most Americans don’t have access to liquid cash when they need it, and this tool meets that need. Aimed at consumers with limited access to traditional credit sources, Puddle, makes it easy to borrow and lend money to friends, family members, and other users through small, short-term loans. Over $1 million has been borrowed through the website, with amounts ranging from $250 to $2,000 for periods between three and six months.

A Simple Notebook
Whatever budgeting tool you ultimately use, the notebook method is another way to easily and reliably track your expenses, and should be your first move. You can’t fill out a new budget with a bunch of guesses, after all. After a month of tracking all your expenses (all of them!), you’ll have a clear picture of where your money’s going, and you’ll have most of the key details to plug into your official budget.

This is Dave Ramsey’s preferred method of household budgeting. Once you’ve figured out your budget categories and target amounts with your spending notebook, you label a bunch of envelopes and fill them with the appropriate amount of cash. The benefit here is that you aren’t using credit, and by spending cash, you’re much closer to your money — you literally feel it slipping through your fingers with every purchase. Note that you don’t need an envelope for every expense category, just those that tend to get away from you, like food or entertainment.