By: The experts at MoneyStream (www.moneystream.com)
Spring is a great time to start fresh and get organized with your finances. For families looking to save more money this year, MoneyStream is here to help! Staying on budget can be overwhelming and stressful so consider following these important guidelines to help you achieve your goals. We promise it’s that simple!
- Categorize Past Spending
It’s always important to track where your money is going and the best way to do this is to create categories of spending. Examples include groceries, gas, bills, personal services, travel and more. This is a basic premise of budgeting. Once you understand how your money is spent, you can begin to set realistic goals for your budget. You can also begin to understand where your money outflows are concentrated and make decisions based on your needs versus wants. Most financial tools and services provide categorized spending which is beneficial because this is the first step in taking control of your budget and money.
- Budgeting to live within your means
While it’s important to track where your money is being spent, it is also essential to understand where it’s heading in the future. Often the future budget is best laid out in a cash flow projection so you can see if you are living within your means. This is an important part of budgeting. In order to understand if you’re living within your budget, you need to know if your money inflows are greater than your money outflows. MoneyStream is one of the only services that analyzes your past spending to automatically predict your future money streams (inflows and outflows). You may be surprised to learn that many people are unaware if they are living within their means. There are many hidden costs that people don’t even know they’re spending. For example, credit card spending can mask your true money outflows because there are often recurring expenses that hit accounts based on online services that you don’t even know you’ve signed up for. MoneyStream takes into spending across all accounts so that the customer sees a realistic picture of their true money outflow and inflow.
- Use Technology to Help Create a Budget
Budget with the latest technology! New online services such as MoneyStream are emerging that do almost all of the work for you. Most of the tools today have historically required that you input your budget items based on your knowledge of where you spend your money and your known income. Often, it’s unclear which part of your money outflows are recurring expenses. There are also fluctuations in your money outflows over time. A service like MoneyStream provides sophisticated mathematical formulas to your past spending to analyze what your future money outflows and inflows look like. Why try to figure it out for yourself? The service builds an automatic budget of future money inflows and outflows rather than asking the customer to input those items. It’s based on actual spending so it’s more accurate and it takes minutes to create. By mathematically finding the inflows and outflows – a budget is created automatically.
- Find a Service to Monitor Your Budget
After your budget is created, it is important to then constantly monitor it. Finding easy to use online services to track and manage your budget is a critical step to staying on top of your money. Most people, with even the best of intentions, will abandon a system to help manage their money if it is not intuitive, easy, and built into the fabric of their everyday life. In fact, only 20 percent of households in the United States are known to track their spending judicially. These individuals are known as “trackers”. That means 80 percent of the population have not yet found a service that meets the criteria of seamless money management. The true secret is to find a service that keeps on top of your budget and manages it the way you manage your life already. MoneyStream uses a simple calendar based system to present when money is leaving and when it is coming into your accounts. It shows which days to expect your specific money inflows and outflows. This gives you more control over how and when you want to spend your money. Not only are you tracking your budget but you are controlling it.
- Use Alerts Often
Once you’ve created your budget, made adjustments to live within your means, and picked a system to help monitor your money, you can then start to look for additional features that oversee fluctuations in your spending automatically. Often times, these will come in the form of alerts that are sent via email or texts. These alerts can notify you if your spending is showing inconsistencies from past spending or if specific recurring bills are higher or lower than average. Since recurring bills make up the majority of the monthly budget items, it’s good to look for services, such as MoneyStream or Mint, that provide alerts for upcoming bills and payments. Even better, MoneyStream provides smart alerts that allow you to decide if and when you’ll pay a bill based on how it relates to your monthly budget amount.
MoneyStream is a new online service that puts people in control of their money today so they can have the luxury of planning for their tomorrows. MoneyStream is the only free online service that provides insights into a customer’s money, gives them the control levers to set, and then does the work for them, on their behalf. The service does this by linking to all bank accounts, credit card account, and biller accounts to provide the necessary data (statements, bill payment details, payment instructions, history) and then presents this in an easy to user calendar interface that allows customers to actively see where their money went, where it’s going tomorrow, and set when they want to be notified about it. MoneyStream’s smart technology quickly learns what the customer needs and acts accordingly. It’s like putting your money on “auto-pilot” making managing the day-to-day easier and enjoyable. www.moneystream.com