For the most part, I’ve got a good handle on my family’s finances, but when it comes to the smaller details of where our money goes, I could use some help from this new iOS app. I’m finding it’s really great for tracking your every day expenses, so you can become smarter with your budget over the long run.
We’ve got IRAs and our kids have 529s, my husband contributes to his 401(k), and I monitor our credit reports carefully. But the Dollarbird app allows me to track our overall income and day-to-day expenses, whether I’m at home with a stack of receipts, or considering a stop at the coffee shop after back-to-school shopping with my kids.
It’s a simple interface that allows you to input recurring income and expenses, like paychecks and school tuition, and then Dollarbird calculates your balance automatically. With one glance, you can see whether that latte will break the bank. So smart, and so easy too.
If you do decide your caffeine break is essential, just enter the expense on that day in the Dollarbird calendar, and your balance updates accordingly. Then you can look back over the month and see how much money you’ve frittered away–or wisely spent, depending on your perspective–on lattes.
That’s what I mean by eye-opening; using Dollarbird honestly and accurately has given me enormous insight into where my money goes. And uh, it’s a little embarrassing. Kind of like keeping a food diary. (I ate how much?) But seeing the specifics of my expenses in detail is helping me make smarter financial decisions so that my balance will grow over time. Which is really cool.
While every parent is different in terms of how or what we share with the kids in terms of our finances, personally I like how Dollarbird helps me show the kids why we aren’t stopping for ice cream or seeing a 3-D movie this week. While they may not grasp the details yet (or don’t need to know all of them), the expense breakdown is simple enough for my elementary school-aged kids to understand whether we’ve spent a little or a lot so far this month.
Yes, it’s a little painful to take a stark look at your finances, but think of it as tough love. It hurt at first, but I know I’m better off now–and hopefully in the future. -Julie
Download the Dollarbird budget tracking app on iTunes for $1.99.