6 Tricks to Stop Blowing Your Budget on Take-out and Pumpkin Spice Lattes
When it comes to budgeting, we all have our little flaws. Usually, it’s spending too much money on one of our favorite vices.
It might be your daily gourmet coffee drink on your way into work. It could be ordering dinner and having it delivered. (Who wants to cook, right?) It might even be smaller than that. Maybe you stop to pick up a sparkling water on your way home from work.
The little things add up.
What you need is a way to keep an eye on your spending, so you can track these habits and see where they’re derailing your budget. Thankfully, it’s 2018, and we have apps for that.
Here our some of our favorites.
1. Find out Where You’re Overspending
The Empower app is a powerful budgeting tool that can help you figure out how you’re spending your money and develop a budgeting plan to keep you on track.
Link the app to your bank accounts, and it will track your spending. It will also categorize your spending so you can see exactly where you are overdoing it. That’s right: It will show you just how many times you went out for dinner because you didn’t want to do the dishes.
Set a monthly spending limit, and the app will show you a graph that can tell you in one snapshot just how you’re doing for the month. Are you over the line or under it? It’s that simple to see how you’re doing and adjust your spending accordingly.
2. Stop Overpaying for Bills
Budgeting isn’t always about spending less. It’s about spending smarter.
That’s how Trim can help you budget your money better. The text and Messenger bot can track your transactions and negotiate your bills for you.
When you sign up for Trim and connect your accounts, it tracks your spending and looks for bills that might be too high.
Then it goes to work.
Trim can work with the unfriendly people at your cable company so you don’t have to and negotiate to get you a lower bill. No waiting on hold.
See? Not paying too much and not paying for stuff you don’t need. That’s spending smarter and helping your budget thrive.
3. Cut Those Subscriptions You Forgot About
Your spending pitfalls might be things you don’t even know you’re paying for. Remember that free trial subscription you signed up for two years ago? Did you ever cancel it?
Download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees.
After downloading the app, create an account and link your bank account and/or credit cards. Turn on the bill-negotiation and outage-protection features. Boom. TrueBill is already searching for potential refunds — it might get you a refund even when you didn’t know a power outage occurred.
On average, Truebill says it helps customers save more than $700 a year by lowering their bills, canceling unnecessary subscriptions and getting refunds.
4. Find the Free Money Hiding in Your Budget
How about an app that will not only track your spending, but also help you discover where you’re overpaying on your bills or getting stuck with unnecessary charges?
Meet Charlie. He’s a money-saving penguin. Unfortunately, he’s not here to bring delight to your household with belly flops and fin hugs. Rather, he lives in your SMS text messages or Facebook Messenger (your choice, though Charlie is more fun and reliable on Messenger).
He’s not only cute. He’s also going to help you save money. Charlie offers help with a little bit of everything, including:
- Finding you free money by making sure you’re getting the best deals around (ahem, overpaying $24 a month on that cell phone bill?).
- Helping you avoid unnecessary extra charges by reminding you when you have a bill due.
- Tracking your spending, so you can see that, hey, maybe you need to hold back from eating out so much (but Charlie won’t judge either way!).
- Reminding you when it’s time to save and how much you can afford to put away.
Getting acquainted with Charlie is easy. When you click “get started” on its homepage, you can opt into chatting via text or Facebook Messenger, and follow his prompts. You’ll connect your bank account or credit card (or both) so he can get to work.
Oh, and he’s free! Thanks, little dude.
5. Get Help Watching Your Budget
Sometimes managing your money feels like a delicate exercise of tiptoeing across a tightrope. Take your eye off the ball for a second, and you’ll fall into a pit of endless fees — overdrafts, ATM fees, dipping below daily minimums, oh my!
Luckily, there’s Albert, an app that’ll help you spend smarter.
Just connect your accounts to the iOS app (which uses bank-level security) to get reminders when you receive a tax refund, have a bill coming up, pay an unexpected fee — pretty much anything that happens with your money.
Additionally, Albert will help you automatically tuck away money and map out a budget. If you opt into Albert Genius for a minimum $4 a month (first month is free), you can also text Albert’s team of human financial experts any time for guidance on things like how to pay down debt faster, take care of your kids financially, set up a will or build wealth.
The app can help you feel more secure in your finances — like you’re walking across a sturdy bridge rather than a flimsy tightrope.
6. Earn Rewards and Avoid Late Fees
Now that you’re tracking your spending and keeping your budget rolling, why not get rewarded for being a responsible adult and doing things like paying your bills on time?
MoneyLion is a free all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.
MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app.
You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.
You can redeem those points for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.
If credit cards aren’t your thing, MoneyLion is like having a rewards credit card without the temptation to overspend.
The app also connects with all your bank, credit card, student loan and other financial accounts. Based on your income and spending patterns, it offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.
Get Honest With Yourself About Your Spending Habits
Getting really honest about where your spending goes off the rails is no fun. It’s even less fun if you have to hear it from another person. Thanks to today’s technology, you don’t have to have your parents or a financial professional in a stuffy suit and tie review your finances to get a better understanding of what you’re doing right and where you might need a little help.
No judgements. No long-winded sales pitches. These apps are there to help you optimize your finances and better understand your spending, saving and investing habits and potential. You can do this, and your best adviser may be that phone in your pocket.
Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.