How to Find the Right Budget App So You Don't Quit (Pt. 1)

Tiana Clewis: Hey Dreamers. Well, welcome back to my channel where we like to talk about all things money. Why? Because we have to get that money right at home and in your business so we can start building a life that's worth living. If you don't know who I am yet, I'm Tiana B. Clewis, a Financial Lifestyle Coach and Start-up Strategist with the my labor of love, Selah Financial Coaching.

In today's video. I'm answering a question that honestly, every brand new budgeter seems to have. What tool should I use for my budget? The truth is that unless you love carrying your paper budget in your pockets or you have a love affair with Excel... like I do, then you need an app that's going to help you create and manage your budget without driving you nuts.

So over the next two videos, we're going to dive into the eight things that every budgeter should consider when deciding on the best budgeting app for them and their goals.

Before we dive into this list, don't forget to like this video and subscribe to my channel below. Then I want you to hit the bell to make sure you get notified when I drop new money tips and strategies each week that will help you hit your financial goals while still enjoying life.

Okay, so I bet you're asking the question of Tiana, why this topic, and I'm super happy that you asked. You see, your budgeting app is one of those things that can make or break your success when it comes to actually budgeting and hitting your financial goals and doing the things that you want to do with money.

What I've seen time and time and time again is that a poorly designed a budgeting tool will actually convince many people that they're terrible at budgeting, but it's not their fault. It's the app's fault. Some of these apps like to make, promises, saying that they're going to make budgeting super easy. They're gonna make it super fun. But then when you get in the weeds, you start using it, you get super frustrated Or it'll say, Oh, we have all these great features. It's gonna help you do a, B, C, D, but then you're trying to figure out how to use those features and it's super confusing.

Or the budget doesn't even help you modify your behavior, which in case you didn't notice budgeting, managing money, hitting financial goal, it's all about modifying behavior. And if your budget isn't helping you modify your behavior, then it's not getting the job done.

But what ends up happening is that they talk about, everyone's experiencing all this success for this app, and you're like, well, I'm not. I'm struggling right now. So then you're like, okay, well it must be me like I'm the issue. I'm the problem. I'm the one messing up. And because you think that you're the issue, you're the problem, you end up quitting thinking that you can't budget that you can't do this, that you can't accomplish this. And it was never your fault. It actually was the app's fault. It was just a crappy app.

And so I want you to succeed. I am emotionally invested in your success, and so the last thing that I want is for you to grab one of the bajillion apps that are out there and not know what questions you should be asking, what you should be looking for to figure out whether or not this is the right app.

Now, eventually I'm going to start actually doing reviews of different apps. I even have one on my phone that I'm testing out right now, but if we're going to be real about this, there are new apps that seems to be coming out every single day and your girl can't keep up. Like I just, I'm trying, I'm failing. Okay. It's just too dag on many. Every time I go to the app store, there's another one that popped up. Every time I'm watching Netflix, another one comes across Netflix. It's like, okay, guys, get it together.

And of course, you know, Facebook with our algorithms, they know who I am, they know what I do, and they keep showing new budgeting apps on my news feeds and I'm like, come on Facebook, like you're killing me right now.

There's constantly ones coming out and I can't keep up with all of them when it comes to the reviews, although I'm going to work on it, I'm going to try to do the things, but what I want to do is make sure that you have some clear ground rules for picking the right app so that you can find success in the meantime.

So that brings me to the first criteria that we want to cover. We want to make sure that whatever budgeting app, whatever budgeting tool you grab, is super easy to access. And I say this only because I know that this is a huge problem for people who try to use Excel spreadsheets and for people who tried to use paper budgets.

Think about it, okay. So you have a plan and you have to live your everyday life in accordance with his plan, but over the course of the month, you need to know what you're spending. I've talked many times about tracking your expenses against your budget. Well, it's really hard to do that if you have a budget that's hard to access or that's a little bit difficult to, um, to use in that comparison process. And so that's why a lot of people, Excel spreadsheets don't work. Yes, technically you can keep an Excel spreadsheet on your phone, but trying to track your expenses on an Excel spreadsheet in real time can get really, really difficult.

And get, don't even talk about paper like. It's paper, like what are you going to do? Like sit and write in the margins, the numbers and hope that they add up? Like, no, it's just too much. It's not super easy to access that information. So I want to make sure that whatever tool you use is easy to access.

So when I say that I want the app to be easy to access, I'm really talking about having, of course, the web portal because you want to be able to just sit at your computer, log in and type in all the information. Like it's easier to do whenever you are at your computer with the full keyboard typing the things. But you also want to have really quick and simple access when you're on the go, so you can make real time quick decisions. So you definitely want to make sure that in addition to the web portal, it also has a phone app.

It might even have a tablet app, but more often than not, you're going to use the phone more than you're going to use the tablets. So that's the reason why for me, having a phone app is a make or break while having a tablet app is not really a make or break.

So you definitely want to have the web portal because it's just a little easier, especially when you're building the app, building the budget. But then you definitely want to have the phone because it's always with you. It's quick access. It helps you with those real time decisions.

Also, another reason why this is going to be really important is because if you have a spouse who's just not feeling this whole budgeting concept, then you want to make it as easy as possible for them to look at the budget, to make decisions from the budget, and to know what's going on with the budget.

Or maybe you're that spouse, like you're the difficult one. I'm just saying. Either way, whoever the difficult party is in a particular relationship, it needs to be easy for them to use as well because the easier it is for them to access and to use, the more likely you are or they are to be consistent with it.

I've witnessed this with my own husband. He does not like budgeting. It's just not his thing, but because it's easy to access, I'm able to go ahead and create the budget. I'll shoot him a text message and say, Hey babe, I've created the budget. Go check it out. He will literally log in from his phone, he'll look at the budget, he'll make a quick update maybe, and he'll let me know what he changed and boom, there you go, like we've budgeted. Or he's trying to figure out like how much do we have set aside to spend on this thing? And he'll go and look at it real quick.

So I'm telling you, it's great for you to be able to make great. Um, quick and simple, realtime decisions, but it's also going to be great for whichever spouse, assuming you're married, that does not like to budget, it's going to make things a lot easier for them. So I'm just saying, you definitely want your first criteria to be an app that's really easy to access.

The second thing I want you to consider is how easy is it for you to change or rearrange the categories that are inside of the budgeting tool? So this is one that honestly has probably been the biggest source of frustration for me when it comes to testing different budgeting apps.

I originally started testing budgetingapps about two years ago, so not too long after I started Selah and then I kind of paused for a while because I just kept getting frustrated over the same freaking thing over and over again. It was almost impossible to change or to rearrange the categories that they had. And for me, it's super important for a couple of reasons.

So one rearranging categories in my mind is all about being able to change the order that they're right they're in. The things that are at the top tend to be the most important things. Most people, when they're creating their budget, they kind of move from the top of their budgeting tool or their budgeting app or budgeting paper and they move down.

So you want the most high priority things to be at the very top of the budget to be in the very beginning. You want those to be the things that you see the most quickly and the most. And just be the most obvious the most in your face thing. Well, some of these apps, they make assumptions about which categories are the most important and they don't let you change them. So that really frustrates me because their sets of pre-organized categories might not be in the same, priority that you have yours.

Also, if they have preset categories to the point where you can't even change the categories, much less rearrange them, but you can't even change them. You can't add subcategories or anything like that.

Then it also ends up being really, really frustrating because it makes it difficult to have the budget reflect your actual life. Like your day to day life, they assume that they know what your life looks like. They assume that they know what everyone needs to be covering on their budget, and that's just not true. Everyone's life is different.

I'm a wife, I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a minister. I have four kids. I have a dog. Like I have a podcast. I have a lot of things going on. We're in the middle of a, what's that thing called? We're abouts to do like a resurrection seed at our church. Like, there are different things going on in my life and for them to sit there and assume that they know what my life looks like and that my life looks the same as like Susie Joe over there who's single with no kids.

Or forget Susie joe, how about me, seven years ago? Seven years ago, I was single, no kids and no prospect for husband like your girl was just by her lonesome. Okay. I traveled all the time for work like I had. I was, I was involved in ministry, but not nearly as much as I am now considering, you know, like I got a whole title thing and stuff going on. I didn't have all that going on in the past. And so for them to assume that they know what my life looks like, and to not let me adjust my budget to actually reflect my life, it's like a guaranteed recipe for failure. So no, that doesn't work for me.

And then of course, you also want it to be really simple to just kind of change the categories. So, let's say you can change the categories, but you got to go through a bunch of hoops to do it. That can be really, really frustrating, and if it's really, really frustrating to do it, then it's going to almost guarantee that your budget isn't going to accurately reflect the changes that happened in your life from a month, a month, a month.

Think about it. Right now, it's February. Well, last month in my family, there wasn't a whole lot going on except for Gabriel's birthday. But then in this month, because you have a Valentine's to consider, then we have the fact that, okay, each of our kids, their schools are having Valentine's parties, so we got to get some for that.

You also have the fact that like our young adults ministry, which we are part of our young adults ministry. Our young adult ministry starts, ends at 35 and so we're part of our young adults ministry. Many of them are single. And so even though they're not like going out with their booth thing for Valentines, we're actually having like a Valentine's after party. So the day after Valentine's Day we're hanging out at Dave and Busters.

And so we have those sort of things going on. And then you also have like date night for the hubby. So last week, last month is different from next month and if the category is, don't let me change the stuff that I can't take into effect the date night with the hubby for Valentine's Day, that now that I think about it, I haven't even planned. Hmm.

Okay. Let me, let me just side note real quick. Side note. So, I don't know what I'm know for Valentine's Day and I'm kind of having a debate because the reason why I haven't really planned what we're doing for Valentine's day is because I haven't decided whether or not I even really want to do anything for Valentine's Day.

And as the woman in the relationship, I'm probably the only one who actually cares. And so I'm having this kind of mentioned debate because. Pardon me? Like I think about the covenant that I made with my husband before God, we should be loving on and showing each other love throughout the year. And so does it really make sense to leverage Valentine's day to do that when we're supposed to be doing good throughout the year and since we do actually have date nights throughout the year... I'm just saying that's how I feel about it and the truth of the matter is, is become like this huge debate.

So just go ahead and chime in like you let me know. How do you feel about Valentine's day? Like do you celebrate it? Do you not celebrate it? Which that process, I'm kind of curious. Now I'm just being nosy.

Okay. Back to business. Let's look at criteria number three. So, that one. So what we're thinking about here, the thing that I like to think about is: how does it let you budget? So is it letting you budget on a monthly basis, which you know, that's what I recommend, or are they requiring you to do it by pay period?

Now I'm going to be real. Most budgeting apps fall into the category of letting you do it monthly. However, there are still some apps out there that kind of base it on pay period. So I wanted to say this flat out.

Now you might be looking at me like, Tiana, why do I have to do by a month? Because your pay periods might be every two weeks, or your pay periods might be like the first and the 15th or the 15th and the last day of the month. It might be something like that and you're like, okay, Tiana, why do you keep emphasizing once a month?

Well, there's two reasons for this. Okay? The first thing is that most of your bills are paid monthly, monthly. There's two things for this. The first one is that most of your bills are paid monthly. That's just the truth of the situation. Most of the time when you have a bill, it's going to be paid once a month.

Even some of the bills that you pay, like quarterly or annually or semi-annually, if you go back and look at your options, a lot of those bills actually do give you a monthly option somewhere down the line. Now, typically they cost a little, you end up paying a little bit more over the long run if you a monthly versus semi-annual or quarterly or annually, but there's always that option to pay the bill monthly. So ultimately when it comes to your bills, it's basically a monthly breakdown.

And then even when you kind of look at, just like your everyday life, things tend to be mapped out by month. A lot of times your church is telling you the activities for the whole month. A lot of times your schools are telling you your kid's activities for the entire month. Even work, like your work will tell you your activities for the entire month. So it just makes the most sense for people to look at their budgets on a monthly basis because that's how bills are set up and that's honestly how most activities that you're dealing with are going to be mapped out.

Now there is a one benefit to looking at your budget by pay period as so periodically you do want to check this out is when it comes to kind of redistributing your bills. So some bills, they actually let you change your due dates, and that's going to be really important because what you don't want to happen is you don't want to have like, okay, if you get paid twice a month, then your first check is like completely demolished by bills and you're like

super duper stupid broke for the last a week of that pay period. And then the next period you're like balling out of control because all your bills are paid and you just got all this money and now you're acting up. You don't want that.

You really want it to be a little more evenly spread out. It's just better for managing your behavior, I've noticed. So I think it's really important that you do look at the pay periods to make sure that the distribution of your bills is relatively, even across the pay period. Even in that case, you really only want to look at it like if there's going to be a major change in your bills, if there is a major change in your pays a pay periods, pay amounts, or if it's something like, okay, you're noticing that trend where I'm super broke during this pay period, but I'm always balling out of control, another pay period, and then you're like, okay, what can we move around to redistribute?

So in those cases, you want to check it out, but I wouldn't just plan my budgeting that way. And since there are some apps out there that do base it specifically on your pay period and not on the month, I'm going to just say like, ignore that, because like I said, everything in life is pretty much planned on a monthly basis. So let's just keep everything consistent.

Now for criteria number four, what you want to do is you also want to make sure that whatever budgeting tool you're using, it lets you get as granular with your budget as you want to. Now remember earlier that I said that I have beef with these budgeting tools that have like preset categories. Well, I also have beef with any budgeting tools that have a limit on the number of categories that you can create or a limit on the number of subcategories that you can have.

Some people like big, broad budget categories, but there are periods in your life or there just some people who work better with super detailed budgets because a super detailed budget with lots of subcategories can actually be really helpful when it comes to managing your spending better.

A great example of that is Christmas. So, the budgeting tool that I use, which is Every Dollar, it lets me add whole new categories and whole new sub categories if I want to, which is super duper helpful because then when I'm allowed to do - and I don't always do this, sometimes it just kinda depends on what's going on - but what I'm allowed to do is I'm allowed to take my budget for Christmas and I can split it between all the different people and all the different activities that we're doing. And so we'll have a Christmas category and then like we'll have a line for each kid. You can have a line for other people that you want to spend money on and you can have a line for activities like Christmas holiday parties that your church or parties at your kids' schools or parties for your office. Those sort of things.

And so having the ability to be super detailed and super granular with your budget can be really helpful. And seasons such as Christmas when there's tons of little things that are going on that come together into a big category, but it can get really difficult to keep track of all the different things.

Or let's say for example, that you've noticed, there's this one big broad category that just keeps going over, and for some reason you can't figure out what the problem is. And so maybe now you need to do a breakdown of, okay, let me do say a food's the category. Then, okay, let me break down groceries versus like dining out with the family versus dining with friends and happy hours versus like times when I'm just eating on my own. Like you might want to break it down to that level just to kind of begin to understand where the leaks are in your budget.

Another time where you might want to be super granular is for people who use the envelope method, they typically get super granular, and so it's really nice to have your envelopes match up with the line items in your budget. So if I had 15 envelopes, I want to have a line item in my electronic budget for all 15 of those envelopes, plus the other areas where I don't necessarily have an envelope.

So you see there's like a lot of different times, a lot of different instances, or you might need to be able to get super detailed, super granular with your budget. And if the budgeting app doesn't let you do that, it's hindering your progress. It's messing up your flow and I don't like this.

So there you have it. You have four criteria that I use for evaluating and identifying the best budgeting apps for new budgeters for my client, and frankly, even for my husband.

But as you may remember in the beginning of the video, I said that there were actually a total of eight criteria, which means that we have four more to cover, but those aren't dropping until Saturday. And here's why.

So, okay, so let's just say your girls doing experiment. Okay. What I wanted to do is I wanted to shorten the videos into more bite sized pieces. So instead of giving you all the goods and like a long 40 minute video, I figured I would break them up into two 20 minute videos. And what that'll do in the future is that, it's going to break it down into smaller chunks so that hopefully you can find it easier to start to implement the strategies that I'm sharing and of course implement them faster. And yo, I like implementation. Okay. Make it happen, boo. Do the things.

Now, that being said, if you're one of those people who is just impatient, like my husband. He says I'm a right now kind of guy, and he gets, it's very true. So if you're like my husband and you are a right now kinda guy, are you right now kind of gal, you can actually get all eight criteria - so you can get these plus the additional four - by downloading episode #91 of the Dreamers Financial Playbook podcast. That is actually the podcast that I have that really was the start of this whole YouTube channel, and you can access it on iTunes, Google Play, Android, iHeartRadio, and many other podcasting portals.

The links to those podcasts thing portals are in my description. So pop down there and you can head over to iTunes. You can head over to Google play. You can download it in your favorite place who listen to podcasts. All right, so download Dreamers Financial Playbook podcast. If you're just so impatient and you need all eight criteria right now.

If you're cool with waiting a few days for the rest of the list, or you simply found the tips in this video to be helpful, let me know by hitting that thumbs up below and subscribing to my channel. Don't forget to hit the bell so that you're notified when I drop the other four criteria this Saturday.

Finally, if you're looking for more strategies that will help you become a budgeting pro and hit your goals, here are two more videos that you definitely want to check out. With that, I'll see you on Saturday. Bye bye.

Budget like an expert by downloading the BEGINNER BUDGET CHECKLIST here:

Get more tips and strategies on creating a stellar budget here:

Want to use the same bugdgeting app as Tiana and her family? Check out the EveryDollar app by Dave Ramsay at

#budgetapps #rightbudgetapp #tianabclewis


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