One of the most important steps in working for yourself is keeping track of your money. You need to be highly aware of the money coming in and flowing out of your business. While it can be fun to track your profits, overall, managing money can be tedious. These experts share some tips and ideas about which budgeting tools make this job much easier.
My favorite budgeting tool is a simple spreadsheet. I’ve tried a lot of different budgeting apps, and while I like a lot of their features, I find it to be faster and easier to just use a spreadsheet. My problem with apps is that I don’t use them consistently, and then they’re not effective. I use Google Docs, but Excel or OpenOffice are great options too. Since I’m in Google Docs every day, I just find that it’s more convenient. All you need to do is create a template and then track your numbers each month.
*Excel Spreadsheet* There is no better and easier budgeting tool for my home-based business than the Excel spreadsheet. Excel doesn’t include many bells and whistles like some other tools, but you can’t beat how simple it is to use. This is my favorite app to manage the cash and expenditures while running the business. I use Excel anytime there is a need to figure out a dollar amount, and especially when trying to calculate the products profit which involves several costs to account for. As I use several shipping options, sell various products, then there is the issue of whether to utilize the actual item weight versus dimensional weight; it would be extremely challenging to calculate the shipping costs without the Excel formulas.
*Mint App* If you’re looking for an easy way to monitor your budget while working at home, check out the Mint app. It helps you keep track of your bills, get free credit scores, monitor your investments, plan a budget, and get relevant alerts all in the palm of your hand. You can link different bank accounts, bills, and credit cards so that the app is a one-stop-shop for all your budgeting needs. Mint aims to give you real-time information, so you don’t have to second guess what your money is up to. And, the app will give you personalized recommendations on how to save money, so it’s sure to be a helpful tool.
For the past year, I have been using the free app called Money Manager: Expense Tracker, Free Budgeting App. It’s 100% free unlike a lot of the top-rated apps on the market and has made tracking my financial activity so much easier. In short, I create my categories, enter my budget and track as I go.
Note From Leslie:
Like some of our experts above, I’ve not always been able to maximize money software to the fullest. The advantage of online banking and automatic payments is that you don’t have to think about it, but by not thinking about it, you may not be checking it. Plus, you can have multiple accounts, such as your business bank account and PayPal.
I try to remember to through my statements each month to see what I paid for, determine if I still need it, and cancel or return it if I don’t. I also check to make sure I was paid what I was owed, and track whether my income went up or down. I do this through my online banking platforms (my bank and PayPal).
There are some things I do best on paper, such as my planning, as well as money management. I have a money section on my planner where I track income (affiliate income, sales, freelance payments etc) and my expenses.
With that said, tax time can go quicker if you use a system that you can pull the data into your tax software or easily print to give to your accountant. Further, many business money management systems will also help you create and track invoices, which is ideal if you have a freelance or service based business.
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