Long term planning goes hand in hand with military service. Enlistments and re-enlistments are for years at a time. Military members are always looking to the next inspection, the next physical training test, the next test to rise in rank. Just like some of their civilian counterparts, however, most don’t enjoy planning ahead with money. In these times of COVID-19, military members are luckier than most, to be able to rely on their paychecks Those paychecks are unique in that they are broken down into amounts given for specific purposes; housing, food, clothing allowances. This makes it easy to ensure the correct amounts are coming in, and for the correct purposes. Why not monitor money going out in that same way? Make the most of it with a budget.
Think of the things most are currently spending far less on in the current climate:
- Dining out
- Entertainment (going to the movie theatre, concerts, bowling, etc.)
- Vacation Trips
Where is that unspent money going? Using a budgeting tool can help to make sure it isn’t dwindling away on items and services that don’t benefit your long term financial goals. Here are three great budgeting apps, each with a different level of complexity, to get you started.
Platforms: Web browser, iPhone, Android
Cost: $11.99/ month, or an annual $83.99 ($7/month)
Free Trial Length: 1 month
Keep track of expenses with these 6 categories:
- Credit Card Payments
- Immediate Obligations (utilities, groceries, etc.)
- True Expenses (like annual insurance premiums)
- Debt Payments
- Quality of Life Goals (vacations, vehicles, computers, etc.)
- Just For Fun
YNAB is unique among budgeting tools, in that it’s designed to have you account for every single dollar you have coming in. It also budgets with the money you have as you have it, not as projected for the month. This app would be best for someone who wants to be extremely hands on in tracking their money.
The build of the platform is highly customizable. It can be used with a linked account (connecting your bank so that all transactions automatically send to the app), or as an unlinked account, where you manually input your transactions. Both have their merits: using the unlinked account can help you keep an even closer eye on your spending, but the linked account is of course more convenient, especially for many small transactions.
YNAB hosts 20 minute long live classes daily on their site to help you make the most of the platform. YNAB also claims that people save an average of $200 while using their free trial. That should be enough to tempt anyone into learning to budget!
Platforms: Web browser, iPhone, Android
Keep track of:
- Cash, Credit Cards, Investments
- Goals for savings and debt reduction
- Transactions, identified by types of spending
- Credit Score
- Overall monthly budgets
- Cash flow
This sleek app does it all, without the more intensive style of tracking as YNAB. It has bank-level encryption, and syncs to your accounts so that you have all the information you need in this app alone. This platform has a minimalistic color scheme and all text is easy to read. Goal tracking and managing is a main focus of this app. Considering everything Mint keeps track of, the information presented doesn’t feel cluttered, with a dashboard that gives a clear overview of where you’re at. Best of all, Mint is completely free. What’s more budget friendly than that?
Platforms: iPhone, Android
- Cash flow in and out
- Recording expenses by category
Monefy is the budgeting app for you if you’re after simplicity. You set a balance, and log expenditures across different categories that are identified by colorful icons, like a basket for groceries and a little martini glass for entertainment. As expenses are inputed over time, a color-coded circle gives a visual overview of how much of your money is going to the different categories. In the center of this circle are two numbers—one in green, and one in red—representing overall cash flow. And that’s it! With Monefy, you can keep an eye on your budget in a way that doesn’t feel too taxing, with pleasing visuals. The app is free, but you can unlock customization by upgrading to a pro version, or allowing ads to be displayed. If neither of those options appeal, the app is great as is, at no cost to you!
Creating a budget isn’t all about pinching pennies and worrying about how much money is being spent. If used properly, a budget can give you a picture of how much you should allocate for fun things, too. Setting, and being aware of, a limit in that area can take away spending guilt and worry. One of these apps is sure to help you do just that. Happy budgeting!
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- Financial Planning For Your Next Deployment
- Deadline For Some SSI & VA Beneficiaries with Kids is May 5
- PCS Move Overhaul Underway for 2021
- New Veterans Benefits Banking Program
About the author
Marissa Fuller is a freelance writer and editor with a degree in Creative Writing and Classical Civilizations from the University of Arizona. She can be found translating Shakespeare into Ancient Greek in the English countryside, where she is currently stationed with her Airman and their faithful hound.