If you’re starting to budget today, you can get all the perks of rocking a solid budget without the headaches that used to come standard.
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Want to get out of a conversation quickly? Just bring up budgeting. It’s a pretty foolproof out, because to most people, “budgeting” means “giving up things I love because they cost too much money.”

Budgeting has a serious image problem

It’s an unfair reputation, too, because budgeting is the key to everything you like to do. Whether you’re aiming to study abroad in Europe next year, or just avoid the month-long ramen diet at the end of the semester, budgeting is the real-talk BFF who can help you meet those goals.

"For a long time, in the stone ages before smart phones, budgeting was so much work."

It’s easy to see how budgeting scored such a bad reputation though. For a long time, in the stone ages before smart phones, budgeting was so much work.

To build a useful budget, you’d have to get your printed bank statements, power up an Excel spreadsheet that would make a NASA engineer weep, or keep track of everything by hand like an old-timey accountant. You might even have to do all three of those things.

On top of that, if you realized you were spending too much money, you had to remember how much you had left to spend on groceries every time you went to the store. “Can I really afford two avocados?” is not something anyone should have to figure out on the fly.

So yes, Past Budgeting probably deserved at least some of its bad reputation.

Budgeting is still totally worth it

Even with all that work involved, budgeting has some serious perks. If you want to…

  • Find more money to save for the big stuff, like vacations or moving across the country
  • Make sure your student loans and scholarships actually last you the entire semester
  • Enjoy your coffee, guilt-free, because you know you can afford it
  • Figure out what you can actually afford on a new-grad salary

Budgeting is still the best way to do all of those things. At the end of the day, budgeting is just making a realistic plan to use your money to get you the things you want – which really doesn’t sound that bad, right?

Luckily, Future Budgeting has its act together

Technology took one look at budgeting and was all “This is going to be the perfect makeover story.” Thanks to some amazing new (and slightly-less-new) fintech apps, budgeting went from frumpy sidekick to financial prom queen.

New fintech apps helped solve some of the most frustrating parts of budgeting, and made way for you to get the benefits of a budget without the headaches. More being-able-to-afford-studying-abroad, less ramen-noodles-for-breakfast.

Tracks your spending for you

Instead of lugging a notebook and pen around to record every latte-fueled study session, Goodbudget will track and categorize your spending for you and help you stick to your optimistic start-of-the-month spending predictions in each category. No cash-register mental math required.

Tells you how much you can spend

When you just need to know how much is safe to spend today, Level Money has your back. The app will keep track of your monthly income and spending, and give you a solid number that’s cool to spend every day. You’ll know if you can actually afford that post-gym smoothie with one look at the app.

Sends you helpful reminders

Like a friendly-but-kind-of-naggy financial advisor who really wants to help you stay on top of your money, Mint will email you reminders when you go over one of your budget categories, or when you get paid (ca-ching!).

Helps you spend on what matters

Even though it comes with a bit more set-up required (think IKEA furniture, but not the really complicated stuff), You Need a Budget helps you set up all your budget categories to make sure you’re spending your money on the right stuff.

What counts as “the right stuff”? That’s totally your call.

Livin’ the dream

If you’re starting to budget today, you can get all the perks of rocking a solid budget without the headaches that used to come standard.

You don’t need to track your spending by hand, or do mental math gymnastics at the grocery store, to spend confidently on the things you love. Plus, you can stop worrying that you’ll have no money left at the end of the month.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty dreamy to me.

Wondering which budgeting app is the best one to start with? Stay tuned – we’ll feature some of our favorites over the next few weeks to help you pick one (or several!).

Header image: Shutterstock

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Posted 07.27.2016 - 03:00 pm EST