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In your mad dash to get ready each morning, perhaps you find you hardly have time to make coffee or grab that morning meal, let alone sit down and parse out what you should be paying in terms of transportation, food, and entertainment on a daily basis. Oh and maybe you still have a slew of other financial stuff to consider: setting up those automatic payments, checking on when that 0% APR credit card you got last year is due to expire…

We get it.

So here’s how to budget with little time and effort. For real.

Spend One Afternoon to Budget. Save Serious Cash

Get motivated because in just one afternoon most of us can sit down and make a budget (more here) that will have some serious payback. Sacrifice one lazy Sunday afternoon honing your basic monthly income and expenditures. There’s tons of insight to glean by seeing where your dollars are going. Taking dollars that are being spent in unproductive ways and reallocating them towards paying down credit card debt, student loans, and other forms of debt can save you heaps over time.

In just one afternoon, you can come away from the endeavor more informed about your financial situation and have a basic financial game plan for moving forward in place (get personal budget templates here).

“There’s an App for That”

The words “there’s an app for that” are hardly foreign in today’s world. Personal finance budgeting is no exception. There’s a myriad of popular apps that take little time and effort to use and which can help you improve the way you manage your money.

Mint has been a common favorite for many people year after year. Among other things, it enables you to see your money and bills in once place and to set up payments on the spot and avoid late fees. Level Money gives you a real-time snapshot of your spending and budget, so you can know where you’re at in regards to your budget any time you like.

If you’re willing to fork over $2.99, another popular personal finance app is Pocket Budget. The unique thing about this app is that it tells you how much you have budgeted for today in order to not have any “debt” tomorrow. Learn more about the budgeting apps we reviewed here.

Your Bank’s Got Your Back

Many banks are great at alerting you when then see fraudulent activity or a-typical behavior on your accounts. But that’s not all they can do for you. Look into the many alerts most banks enable you to set up on the accounts you have with them. In many cases, you can set alerts that will be triggered to send you email, text, or push notifications to update you on your balances, telling you when purchases above a certain dollar amount have posted, informing you if your available balance dips below a certain amount, or surmising how much you’ve spent at the end of every day.

The actual making of a budget spreadsheet and setting yourself up with the various apps and tools is not difficult. The harder part for most of us is sticking to the budget we’ve set. Doing so often requires changing habits and making different choices in day-to-day life. As such, it’s important to be realistic while keeping an eye on the big goals you want to achieve in life. Aim for a budget that provides some daily joy and flexibility while it enables you to save for the big stuff ahead.


8 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Save Money

Making a Monthly Budget (read)

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