Updated: Feb 19
Tiana Clewis: Hey Dreamers, welcome back to my channel where I talk about all things money so we can get that money right at home and in your business so we can start building a life worth living. If you don't know who I am, I'm Tiana. B Clewis, a Financial Lifestyle Coach and Start-up Strategists with my labor of love, Selah Financial Coaching.
In this video, we're finishing up a super important list that we started a few days ago: how to find the right tool to use for budgeting. This question is insanely important because using the wrong budgeting tool can make or break you when it comes to consistently creating and sticking to your budget.
I've seen way too many people fall off the budget wagon thinking they were the problem was, the truth is that they were simply using a crappy app that couldn't deliver on it's plethora of promises. If you haven't watched Wednesday's video talking about why this happens and the four criteria that I've already laid out for choosing a good budgeting app, I encourage you to head over to that video, check it out, then pop back to this one.
One more thing before I break down the final four criteria. If you already know this video is exactly what you're looking for, do me a favor and like the video. Also, tap the big red button below to subscribe to my channel and hit the bell to make sure you get notified when I drop new money tips and strategies each week.
Now let's get going.
The next criteria that I want to talk about is having the ability to link your bank and credit card accounts. Okay, let me be real about this. I know there's a security issue. There are a lot of people out there who have been hacked. I'm not talking about applications. Okay? That's not what I'm talking about.
I'm talking about companies that have been hacked, so I know people freak out all the time when it comes to, I don't want to link my bank account. I don't want to leak my credit card to this thing. But the truth of the matter is like we've linked our bank accounts, we've linked our credit cards to Amazon, we've linked them to PayPal, we've linked them to all these different companies and really linking them to those different portals, those different websites is all about helping us spend money.
So if you can link it there, you can link it to an app that's going to help you control your spending and actually hit your financial goals. Okay, so let me just cut that excuse out now. Okay.
Now, unless you're one of those people who just never linked your big bank account and your credit card anywhere, if that's you, kudos to you. But even then, I'm still going to say, go ahead and find an application that allows you to link your bank and your credit card accounts.
Here's why. Okay. Manually entering in every single transaction into an app, into a spreadsheet, writing them down, adding them up yourself: it is a pain in the butt. Okay. It is hard. You've got like this stack of receipts that you had to put in your wallet. You pull it out every single day. You got to sit down, you got to enter in every single one. You also have to like scour your emails cause you have things on auto pay. You have to scour your bank accounts, your credit card accounts to look at all the transactions, make sure that you got everything and truth of the matter is you're still probably going to miss something.
Ask me how I know. I've learned from experience. I've done this, okay? I love Excel. Excel and I have a very wonderful relationship. I can do some amazing things in Excel and even I kept messing this up. Okay, so let's be real about this. You're going to miss something. You're going to leave out some transactions and so the numbers aren't going to add up and you're going to be confused and mad. Or you're just going to get tired of manually entering the transactions and you're going to quit.
So find you an app that's gonna make it easy on you. It lets you link your bank and your credit card accounts so it can automatically pull in all the transactions within a couple of hours or even a couple of days. That way you have everything, you can go and categorize it near real time and you can make decisions near real time. And that's gonna make you so much better, so much more effective when it comes to budgeting.
The sixth thing we want to talk about in this list of eight is you want an app that does not automatically categorize the transactions. And yeah, I know, it's like Tiana that would actually make my life easier. And it sounds like it would, but, well, I promise you it won't. I know because I've done it. I've experienced it. I've suffered through it. I've had clients that have done it, they've experienced it, is suffer through it. So trust me when I say you do not want an app that's going to automatically categorize the transactions for you, no matter how awesome that sounds.
Now, here's the reason why. The first reason why you don't want an app that's going to automatically categorize the transactions for you is that in spite of the inherent convenience, what it's doing is it's using artificial intelligence to look at the transaction and say, this is where that transaction goes. But artificial intelligence does not know what you've actually done.
So if you walk into Target and you bought some groceries, you buy some shoes, you buy some pillows, and you buy some stuff for your office all on the same receipt... Well, that's four different categories that you need to be able to split this transaction into. However, this thing is going to read Target, and this. Thing is going to be like, okay, let me put it miscellaneous or let me put it in groceries.
Or maybe you shop at Target a lot for groceries and then you happen to pop over this one time and grab something extra on the side. Well, because it's learned that you do all of your shopping, your all of your grocery shopping and Target, it's going to put it in that category. And now you have to go remember the transaction, go find the transaction and fix where it's been put.
So automatically categorizing, it's using artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence doesn't know what you have done, and therefore, because it does not know what you have done, it is guaranteed to mess some stuff up.
Another problem is the fact that it's really difficult to see where you're overspending when the application is doing the categorization for you. The reason why I say that is because if I have to take the transaction and I drag and drop it into the category, and then it has like some select sort of color coding - which most of them do - and I see that color change from green to red or blue to red or whatever color to red - cause in most of them, overages are red. If I see that happen, it's going to trigger something in my mind that tells me I've overspent in that category.
But if it's already doing that for you, then that means you have to stop and consciously go look and study each of the categories to make sure that you haven't overspent everywhere. But if I have to go put the transaction into the category myself, that changes the whole game because then I can see when that category flips from positive to negative from under budget to over budget. Which then helps me know what categories I need to focus my attention on in figuring out where am I spending too much money.
Another one that we don't consider is that because we are having to drag and drop or categorize it ourselves, when you start seeing the same categories pop up over and over and over again, you start to see where you're nickel and diming yourself to death. You start to see where those money leaks are. Where you're like, "Oh, it's not that big a deal. I haven't really spent that much in this category", but you're not considering the fact that these are, you know, $5 transactions, but they're happening two, three times a day and they're adding up. They're nickel and diming you to death. If you are manually putting the transactions in the category, you get to see those instances where you've nickel and dimed yourself.
As a matter of fact, when I was recording this episode, it actually, like, popped in my head the fact that one of my biggest money leaks - and this is personally not for the whole family, just personally - one of my biggest money leaks is eating out. You see, the way that my husband and I have kind of set things up is that we both have our own fun money, and if we eat out like by ourselves, then we take our individual eating out and we put that in our fund money. But if we eat out with the whole family, then that's part of the family's eating out budget.
Well, I realized that I'm eating my fun money like. Eating all of it. I kept seeing these small transactions. I, I'm always on the road and I tend to eat like kids' meals. And so you keep seeing these like $4, $5, $6 transactions over and over and over again that I'm like having to drag and drop into, you know, Tiana's discretionary. And I'm like, this is hurting my feelings, cause basically all of my fun is going in my stomach and most of the time I'm just eating cause I need to eat because you know, you got to live. I'm just saying.
And so to see that, to experience that it made me realize that channel, you have to pay a lot more attention, a lot better attention on what you're doing, how you're eating, how you're scheduling, you're eating throughout the day so that you're not eating all of your fun money. So for me, that is one of my money leaks.
And I can't help but ask, like, okay, y'all know I'm nosy. So what about you? Have you noticed that you have any money leaks? And if you have, where are they? Because I want to know: am I the only other person who's like, eat my fun money? So let me know in the comments. I'm kinda curious.
The next thing that I want you to make sure your app has is I want you to make sure your app has schedule reminders for budgeting. Okay. I can't say make sure because now that I think about it, this one isn't really a make or break, but it is a really good thing to have. Okay.
Because the truth is that it doesn't matter what you have, what you download. Every single app that you get has some sort of notifications. But those are, vacations aren't about necessarily scheduling reminders for your budgeting. It's usually something like, "Oh, Hey, you spent this much money today", or, "Hey, you have these subscriptions", or, you know, maybe you double paid for this. Like, a lot of these apps do come with a lot of notifications, whether their email or phone push notifications, text messages notifications that do give different information.
But the things that are going to be most important in my mind when it comes to budgeting is scheduled reminders on when to categorize your transactions or when to actually create your budget. So like if your app lets you schedule that every day at noon, I'm going to get a notification that says, "Hey, Tiana, go track your expenses." That's going to be more helpful for me than a weekly email or biweekly email that says, "Hey, you have, you know, six subscriptions". Yeah, I know, I have the subscriptions. I want these subscriptions. Okay. The subscriptions I have, I want, like I've knocked out most of them at this point. So that's not going to be as helpful for me as you know "It's three days until the end of the month. Tiana, it's time for you to create a new budget". Those sorts of, um, those sort of reminders are super duper helpful.
So... and it's also going to be helpful, again, if you have a spouse or if you are the spouse that does not like to budget, if you don't like going and tracking your expenses. So it's like out of sight, out of mind. Well, let's put it in your sight. Let's make it where it's easy to do is especially when, like, you get that push notification and all you do is swipe that notification and it automatically opens the app and you go do the thing real quick and then you just close it and go back about your day, like. I find that so much more valuable than these... these emails that they send out that says, "Oh, Tiana, you spent, you know, $2,000 more this month than you spent, I mean, this week than you spent last week." Yeah, cause this week I paid my mortgage like hello.
So I'm just saying if you're going to be getting some sort of notifications from the app, my encouragement is that it has a notification that is going to schedule, um, is going to let you schedule reminders for when to track your expenses and when to create a new budget.
Now again, I said this is not a make or break criteria. And I say that because honestly, you could do this on your phone. So you can actually put alarms in your phone or in your calendar, put reminders or events on your calendar that tell you, okay, I need to take this next 15 minutes and track my expenses for today. Or, um, I need to set up a family planning meeting and my husband and I are going to sit down for 30 minutes and we're going to create the budget for next month, you know, three days before the month ends. Whatever. You can do it in your phone, so that's why it's not a make or break. But I feel like if you're gonna get notifications from your app, that's the kind of notifications you want to get.
All right, so we are down to our final criteria on this list of eight. And the thing I want to bring up, this last thing I want you to keep in mind, is I want the app that you find to be flexible when it comes to how you apply your income to the month. And I know it sounds odd and honestly it is an odd criteria because pretty much like every single app I've come across has this kind of flexibility that I'm talking about except for one. And I'm not going to say the name of the app because a lot of these apps do have updates, and so they may have changed this because I tested this app out three years ago. So I don't necessarily want to say their name cause I don't want you to like dodge this app and it turns out they've changed this.
But I ran across an app that limited how you could apply your income to the month and how you can plan expenses for the month based on that income. So what they did was they actually had you put in the app, what days you got paid and how much you got paid on that date. And then what it did was, even though the budget for was for the whole month, you couldn't spend during that pay period, within the month, more money than what you had earned.
The reason why this became kind of a problem and the reason why I ended up getting frustrated and quitting using that app was because my husband and I, we, at that time, we both were working in corporate America and we both got paid... our second paycheck was at the end of the month. And so what happens is if we get both, if we're both getting paid on the 31st, well, that money's not being used in, say that month. It's not being used in like January. It's actually being used in February. The problem is because the app required you to put the actual pay date in there, it applied that money to January instead of to February, which then kind of messed you over because you couldn't plan your spending for February based on that money from January.
It was the, to me, it was the dumbest thing in the world. And so I got super duper frustrated in looking at that. So basically there was no flexibility in how I got to apply my income.
Also, it didn't account for the fact that, let's say for example, um, like, my husband, he had his side hustles that he was doing at the time. He was doing a lot of computer repairs and he would easily make $200 to $300 a month on, those computer repairs. Well, since those don't actually have paydate, I couldn't put a pay date down for it. I would just kind of have to make something up and say, okay, the first of the month I'm just going to apply $200 to $300. It was, it was just silly how I had to do that, so it didn't really leave good room for how to account for um, those side hustles, those odd jobs, those things where you're just getting money in on a sporadic basis.
So I didn't like that, um, and I ended up getting really, really frustrated and I quit using the app before the end of the first month. It was just that difficult to use, and I knew that if I was having difficulty using the app, my husband was definitely not going to use the app. Okay. I'm just saying.
So that's the one criteria that honestly, I feel like, I shouldn't even have to mention it, but the fact that I've literally witnessed an app that does it, I have to mention it. You need to have flexibility in how you can apply your income. So if you're getting paid on, you know, March 31st then you need to have the flexibility to actually apply that March 31st income to your April budget. That's what you want to be able to do.
So literally, since my husband is still in corporate America and he does still get paid the last day of the month, then the income that he's going to get from his paycheck on February 28th, that's not going in the February budget. It's actually going into the March budget and my app gives me the flexibility to do that, and you should have the flexibility to do that as well. Okay?
So there you have at the eight criteria that I use for evaluating and identifying the best budgeting apps. Now in the future. Again, like I mentioned before, I do plan on reviewing various budgeting apps. I'm even testing one right now that I kind of like so far, but we're still in the early stages, so it's too soon to tell.
But in the meantime, I want to let you know that if you do have a budgeting app already, or you use these eight criteria and find an app and still feel like you're having, you know, struggles, issues with budgeting: know that you're not alone. In fact, having the right tool does not make up for not really knowing how to budget in the first place.
That's why I've gone ahead and created the Beginner Budget Checklist. It is literally a step by step guide that I use with all of my clients. It helps them save money. It helps them dump debt. It helps them watch businesses, whatever it is they're trying to accomplish. But we're doing it with a realistic budget, a realistic game plan.
So once you combine that stellar budgeting tool that we just found with 8 criteria plus a realistic budget that you're going to create with the Beginner Budget Checklist, you are going to be on and popping. Okay? You're going to be in complete alignment and nothing's going to be able to stop you except for you.
So to access the Beginner Budget Checklist, I want you to go to tianabclewis.com/beginnerbudget. Click the get the checklist button, let me know who you are, and then the checklist is going to appear in your inbox. And naturally that link, tianabclewis.com/beginnerbudget, that is going to be right in the description so that you are able to click on it, copy and paste it, or use it however you need to.
Now that you have my 8 criteria for finding a phenomenal budgeting tool and my checklist for creating a killer budget, let me know that you found this video valuable by hitting that thumbs up below and subscribing to my channel. Don't forget to hit the bell so that you're notified each Wednesday and Saturday when I drop my new videos.
Also, 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. Until next week. 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 budgeting app as Tiana and her family? Check out the EveryDollar app by Dave Ramsay at https://www.everydollar.com
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