Budgeting apps can help take the guesswork out of monthly spending

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TORONTO – Before Jordann Brown downloaded Mint, a free budgeting app, his attempts to aggressively pay off his debts were hampered each month by unforeseen expenses that disrupted his budget.

“Mint has helped me build a cushion in my cash savings to get through these financial ups and downs,” she said. “[The app] Certainly helped me stay on track with my monthly budget, which in turn helped me meet my main financial goals, like freeing myself from debt and saving an emergency fund. “

The 31-year-old Halifax-based content manager at Zolo.ca says that for those struggling to meet their financial goals or control their spending, a budgeting app can be a great tool to use.

Budgeting apps can help you automate your spending tracking and provide an overview of your progress against your financial goals.

Aashti Vijh, a 29-year-old senior communications and marketing specialist at Ratehub.ca in Toronto, uses the pro version of the Dollarbird budgeting app, which costs around $ 40 per year. She started using the app at the end of 2017 after leaving her parents’ house.

“I realized that I didn’t really know where my money was going each month. I knew I was generally on budget, but I didn’t know specifically, for example, how much money I was spending to buy lunches at work or what percentage of my income went to rent, ”she said.

Vijh said that with the help of the app, she now has better control over her spending, especially when it comes to ordering or eating at restaurants.

“I found out that I did a lot more before I started Dollarbird and now I’m a lot more attentive,” she said.

Vijh said that when you open the Dollarbird app it shows a monthly calendar which you then click to enter your expenses. You can either enter these expenses manually as they arise, or set up a daily push notification to remind you to track daily expenses.

“Capturing my expenses each day has made me much more aware of what I’m spending. Compared to other budgeting apps, which connect to your bank accounts and categorize your expenses for you, Dollarbird allows you to be proactive with your finances instead of reactive, ”she said.

Like Brown and Vijh, Alexandra Bosanac, a 34-year-old Toronto-based content manager, wanted to better manage her cash flow. So she started using the You Need a Budget (YNAB) budgeting app in 2017.

“I wanted to have better control over my finances. I was afraid to spend money and felt like it just wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle,” said Bosanac. She wanted a better idea of ​​how much money she could reasonably spend each month without overspending.

What Bosanac likes about the app is that every dollar is assigned a category, but it’s pretty straightforward to switch categories if needed. For example, if she wants to spend more on a weekend trip, she can reallocate money to one of her various “sinking funds”, which she uses to save for shoes or clothes. clothing that is not considered a monthly expense.

Bosanac pays around $ 120 a year for the service, but said it has helped her save thousands of dollars, so she considers the expense to be worth it.

However, she said using YNAB was very intimidating at first and there was a bit of a learning curve. Bosanac advises others who are trying budgeting apps for the first time not to give up easily if they encounter frustration or resistance.

“It’s normal that it is confusing at first,” she said. “And, if the first app you try isn’t right for you, try a different one.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 12, 2021.

Léa Golob, The Canadian Press


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