4 Powerful Budget Management Tools Available For Free

It can be quite a challenge to keep tabs on your money on a day-to-day basis, and the risk of going over your budget is an ever-present risk. For many people, even keeping track of how much money is spent every day can be a formidable task, with the finer details of the budget often falling by the wayside.

The good news is that there are many online tools available today that can help you navigate the intricacies of budget tracking and management. Even better, we have done the work of identifying the most useful tools for helping you out with managing your money, and many of them are totally free to use. With these proven effective budget templates, it will be much easier to know where each and every dollar you earn will go.

 

Mint Budget Templates Mint

 

Templates Mint is an easy to use online service that even offers a convenient mobile app. One of the best things about this template is how easily it can be edited and customized to accommodate different budgets and lifestyles. With the wide range of customization options available, it is a cinch to create a budget that is tailor-made to your specific criteria.

 

Make sure to read through the helpful tips posted on the site as they are packed full of valuable information on putting together custom budgets for home makers, young and married couples, and even small businesses. With such a comprehensive array of tools and resources, this site could be the ideal budgeting solution for you.

 

Office.com Personal Budget Worksheet

 

Office.com’s Personal Budget Worksheet is a streamlined and somewhat cut-down version of the money management tools that come with the Microsoft Office suite. Nevertheless, it still provides a fairly broad range of functions and capabilities. Among its most useful features are the report generation tools that will help you put together expense, tax, and even credit card payoff reports. Even if you already own the full MS Office suite, Personal Budget Worksheet is still worth looking into for a simpler and more convenient budgeting solution.

 

EveryDollar Monthly Budget

 

For sheer simplicity and ease of use, EveryDollar’s Monthly Budget is pretty hard to beat. Designed for the absolute novice, the online tool makes it extremely easy and straightforward to keep tabs on your monthly earnings and expenditures. The site also offers a free downloadable app that enables you to conveniently keep an eye on your budget while on the go.

 

PearBudget Spreadsheet

 

PearBudget Spreadsheet is a pretty well-known budgeting solution by now, but it is still worth mentioning for its comprehensive array of powerful yet easy-to-use features. Featured prominently in publications such as the Wall Street Journal and the New Year Times, the free budget spreadsheet is powerful enough for the most complex budgeting requirements, yet it remains simple enough for beginners to use.
Establishing good spending habits is definitely a positive thing, and effectively keeping track of your budget is a great way to start. With the help of these budgeting tools, it will become much easier to formulate an attainable monthly budget that will enable you to live the lifestyle that you want and still set aside money for the future.

5 No Brainer Ways To Spend Your Tax Refund

As many as eight out of ten tax payers are liable to receive tax refunds every year, with the average amount typically coming in at just under $3,000. That’s a pretty serious chunk of cash by any reckoning, and it is way too tempting to just blow it all on petty luxuries. However, you might want to give some thought to spending your tax refund more wisely. After all, tax refunds aren’t exactly free money, but rather your own money that you had already paid in taxes! A bit of judicious planning should therefore be in order, and we just so happen to have five great ideas on how you could spend that money wisely.

Invest in yourself

Investing in yourself is by far the best way to put that money to good use. Whether it is furthering your education, ensuring your future health, or just investing in something that will make you more productive on a day-to-day basis, putting your money to use for yourself is one of the most prudent decisions you could ever make.

Upgrade your living space

With all the time you spend at home when you’re not working, doesn’t it make sense to put some money into upgrading your abode? It doesn’t have to be anything major either. Even something as simple as improving your kitchen, making your home weather proof, or even just investing in a more energy efficient accessory can work wonders in terms of making your home more livable. Energy efficient equipment will also save you money on energy costs, so you stand to get back even some of the money that you will spend!

Start a specific fund

If you’ve always wanted to go on a luxury vacation, or purchase your dream car, but somehow have never been able to put the money together, a tax refund could give you a good jumpstart. Of course, it is pretty tempting to spend the money that you will get back, but think of the long-term benefits of putting it into a fund. With such a healthy cash infusion into your savings fund, you will not only be that much closer to achieving your goal, but you will be more encouraged to continue saving up as well.

Investments for the long haul

Now might also be a good time to think even more long-term. Consider putting your money to work for you. Some options you may wish to consider are a 529 educational savings account, an IRA account, or a good solid business plan that you have always wanted to start. These are all feasible investment options that could prove to be profitable in the long run.

Give back

If you can’t quite make up your mind what to spend your money on, consider the possibility that you may already have everything you need. If that is the case, you might want to consider using the money to give back to society in some way. There are many options for doing so, including contributing to community-based efforts, local charities, or even just the people in your immediate neighborhood.

At the end of the day, it is still your money and therefore, your decision what to do with it. Regardless of what you decide to do with your tax refund money, it might be a good idea to take some time to figure out how it could benefit you the most.

5 Predictions About Tax Filers Everyone Should Read

 

Thinking of filing your taxes early this year? It’s a wise decision to be sure, but there are some important things to keep in mind. There are a number of changes in the offing for the upcoming tax season, some of which you may welcome, and some that may put a damper on your plans. Here are five simple predictions that may seem fairly obvious, but could potentially affect everyone who is planning to file their taxes across the nation this year.  

1.) Refunds could be delayed

Yes, you read that correctly. Rumor has it that refunds will be delayed this upcoming tax season, regardless of whether you file your taxes early or late. In a press release by the IRS, it is clearly stated:

“Beginning in 2017, a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until mid-February. Under the change required by Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC — until at least Feb. 15. This change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the agency more time to help detect and prevent fraud.”

 

Based on that statement, it is reasonable to expect that your refund will be delayed, regardless of whether you file your taxes early or you wait until the last minute to do so.

 

2.) Error and mistakes will be reduced

Check your statement carefully, then go back and check it all again. In any case, there will likely be a lot more amendments than usual this coming tax season. Give yourself plenty of time to review all requested documentations to make sure your statement is complete and accurate. Most importantly, remember every little detail that the IRS requires.

 

3.) Self-prepare tax filers will increase

More and more people are taking advantage of the continually improving tax preparation software available online. With all the quality tools available, more people are likely to take on the task of filing their taxes themselves.

The IRS actually offers a number of excellent solutions, some of them for free. Paid options such as TurboTax and TaxSlayer continue to be useful and easy-to-use as well. Each site and software has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, so make sure you take the time to educate yourself on which system is best suited to your needs.

 

4.) Healthcare collection is here to stay

If you voted for Trump with the hope of seeing Obamacare and its associated tax penalties coming to an end, you might want to readjust your expectations. All indications point to healthcare costs sticking around for a while. Even with the upcoming changes in store, there is likely to be a great deal of confusion with regard to how you can save on taxes and avoid penalties. It is safe to say that healthcare costs and coverage are still going to be talked about issues for years to come.

 

5.) The deadline for filing taxes will change this year

Although the deadline for filing taxes is usually the same every year, a safe prediction is that you will get a few days leeway this year. This is because the traditional deadline for filing taxes falls on a weekend. This could be a good thing for those who typically wait ’til the last minute to file their taxes.