3 Simple Steps for Your 2014 Budget Calculator

Manage your personal finances with your personal budget calculator.

Jan 25, 2014 at 7:30AM


In 2013, I spent $63.83 on five haircuts and gave a homeless man $1.59 on Dec. 12. I know this because I keep a budget calculator -- and you can, too. Here are three simple steps to manage your personal finances with your own budget calculator.

1. Know thy expenditures
Knowledge is power. You can't decide how much to spend if you don't know how much you're spending. From haircuts to homeless donations, keeping track of your personal finances has never been easier.

Online accounts record every electronic transaction you make, and smartphone apps keep budgeting a hand's reach away. Literally.

Intuit's (NASDAQ:INTU) Mint.com offers some of the best summaries around, but there are hundreds of offerings to choose from. No matter what tool you pick, the most important thing is that you actually use it. Built-in budget calculators keep you on track so you can make sure you're not blowing too much on bubble gum, Bojangles, or booze.

2. Find your "hot spots"
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your budget calculator is to ignore comparisons. Keeping everything in context can point out "hot spots" in your expenditures, while also allowing you to breathe easier for some purchases.

Studying in New Zealand made traveling a necessary expense for me, but realizing that I spent as much on flights as I did on lodging kept me on the hunt for the best frequent flyer deals around.

On the other hand, I may grumble and groan about my phone bill, but it ended up accounting for just 1% of my expenditures last year. And when I look back and know I spent just $6.30 per day to feed myself, I can feel at ease about splurging on pine nuts for homemade pesto.

3. Don't forget income
Technology has made personal finance easier than ever, but plenty of folks forget the golden rule of budget calculators: Spend less than you make. Accounting for income puts spending in perspective and ensures you keep your bottom line in the black.

The easiest way to save more is to spend less, but there's no sense stressing if you're covering costs and tucking away a percentage for retirement.

If you're spending more than you earn, however, it's time to re-evaluate your expenditures. Debt is a necessary burden for some, but it should never be a goal and it shouldn't exist as status quo. But there's good news -- if you follow the first two steps, your personal finance is going to be easier than ever to manage.

Start 2014 on the right financial foot
If you've made it this far, you're already miles ahead the average American's money management. But long-term financial freedom is about more than budgeting -- it's about making your hard-earned bucks work for you. Investing your money is the easiest way to maximize profit-without lifting a financial finger.

In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal-finance experts show you why investing is so important and what you need to do to get started. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Fool contributor Justin Loiseau owns shares of Intuit. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Intuit. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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