10 Best // Tools for Organizing Finances

January 30, 2014

although i'm still struggling in this area (numbers, math, blah), i am getting much better at getting my finances under control.  i have debt to pay off, like student loans, and i wanted to learn how to budget.  because i've honestly never done that.  in college, when i charged too much, my mom would call to tell me to hide my credit card at the bottom of my laundry bin for awhile (remember my laundry pile?)  so i've never been one to actually track spending or receipts.  but this year i'm looking at it as just one more thing to organize.  it's much less scary for me to approach it as an organizational project as opposed to a spreadsheet full of equations.  here's some great ideas i've found so far to help get your finances in order:

learnvest.  or mint.  i can't pinpoint why it is that i prefer learnvest over mint but i do.  it's been said that learnvest is from a woman's point of view, maybe that's why.  but both are free, so you have nothing to lose by testing them out.  just put in your account info and tracks where your spending is going.  you can also make budgets to help you reach your goals.

maydesigns.  if spreadsheets are too complicated and you're still a pen and paper girl like me, you can get a customized budget journal from maybook for $22.  pick your cover, your monogram, and then select the budget journal inside pages and get to work!

52 week savings plan.  it's a great little tip to save up for something, without it seeming like a huge burden.  there's printables to help you keep track of how much is adding up in your little jar, whether you want to add in increments of 25 cents or $1.  if you start now, you'll have a large savings by the time holiday gift shopping season rolls around - that's what i'm doing!

30 day money plan.  i started here (and i combined days to get it done faster.)  it details each step you need to take to understanding budgeting and get on track to save you money.  the days also include ideas for trimming your spending - all helpful!  if you're ready to dive in and seriously organize your money, this is how you get started in just 30 days.

a finance binder.  many people prefer to have everything in one space, and they use a binder to keep track of all their printables.  you can include your budget, your bill payment schedule, info on your loans, pretty much everything in one place.  that link will take you to iheartorganizing, one of my favorites.  a bowl full of lemons also has a wonderful budget series to explain the binder process.

dave ramsey.  this seems to be the system that most people have the biggest success with.  i have no doubt that reading the full book will be helpful (this is my next step) but i've been finding a ton of very good summaries and free resources by searching his name on pinterest.  think of it as the cliffnotes version.

receipt scanner.  if you itemize your taxes, you know that receipts are important to keep around.  but it's also important to keep receipts for big purchases - some of them have warranties that last for years.  that's a lot of little financial paperwork lying around, so if you aren't storing it in a binder, scan it with the free cam scanner app and toss the paper version.  cam scanner syncs with drop box and other storage solutions, so you'll always (digitally) have your receipts.

cash envelopes.  the system that dave ramsey recommends.  but cute makes everything easier, right?  etsy has a ton of options of either ready made patterned envelopes to fit your system, or a ton of instant download printables to customize to your liking.  you could also use something like this, to contain your cash, receipts, and write down your spending.

bill calendar.  like the cash envelope system, a dated bill calendar like this one can help you see at a glance which bills you pay that month and when, with pockets to hold your statements, before and after you've paid.

the last one isn't so much a tool as some interesting information.  your meyer-briggs personality type influences how you view money, and what your strengths and weaknesses are.  as an estj, i'm a protector.  yeah... til i start online shopping.  what are you?

how are you working on your financial goals this year?  what's keeping you on track?

(p.s. i'm always pinning financial organizing ideas, so follow me here for more.)


  1. Replies
    1. They just have an app for everything these days!

  2. I totally need to get better at financing and budgeting. Ugh! I hate both of those words. I never thought about using Pinterest as a tool for ideas though! That is so awesome, thanks for sharing!

  3. i don't have a "system" per se but i've been saving money/budgeting since i was 15. basically, i take whatever i earn from my paycheck and divvy that up: half of that goes into savings, the other half goes towards bills.

    my savings accounts aren't the banks either - that's only checking. my real savings is a high interest account that takes me days to *wire* money over into my checking. if i can't get to it fast, i can't spend it fast. outta sight, outta mind, people!

    and then there's my portfolio -- investments are your future! invest in that.

    i find that food is where people hemorrhage money the most *on a daily basis*. coffees, lunches, snacks, dinners - that shit adds up! just by bringing your lunch alone, you can save over $200 PER MONTH. now throw in coffees, snacks and dinner that you make yourself and your savings are WAY MORE per month. if you like eating out, just reserve that for one day a week. we eat out as a family only on saturday nights.

    then there's the shopping. i like steph's idea of being a minimalist. if you can't fit it in your closet, don't buy it. look for sales or shop at the outlets. NEVER EVER buy full price because guaranteed, a few weeks later, that item will be on sale.

    Vodka and Soda

  4. My system is my husband. I know, that sounds so 1950's, but it's the truth. he's so type A when it comes to finances, that I know I would fuck something up, and he would lose his mind. I think I told you this once, but excel isn't good enough for him, so he designs his own spreadsheets, and uses code so it does all the calculations. He has spreadsheets with projected raises, and has both mortgages (we have house and condo) on spreadsheets til the end of the loans. I can't even, it makes me dizzy. I am mindful of spending and log in to our credit cards/banks to see what money is there, but he does the budgeting, moving around of money, bills.

  5. I use an excel spreadsheet that I've been using for years. It's my system. I also employ cash envelopes, particularly when traveling.

    I try not to pay full price for things too.

  6. you just always win at life. I think its time I start really keeping track of my finances too.

  7. girl, you are ON POINT!! i was just thinking about how i desperately need to create a budget this morning. i've heard so much about learnvest and its founder -- i didn't realize they had a system that helped you individually track finances! thanks for the valuable info


  8. I use Excel too. I list all my big bills and the day they are due. Every month they get checked off as they are paid. I am also trying to only pay cash for things. Love all these resources.

  9. I'm using Mint and I like it really well! I also love the 52 week savings plan, but there's NO WAY I could build like that, so I start over each month. The first week of each month I save $1, the second $2, etc. It comes out to about $10-$15 a month on top of what I already save. It works for me!

  10. I use mint now and I mostly like it but maybe i'll try out learnvest too. also i'm going to go read that 30 day plan right now! i'm always trying to work harder at budgeting/saving.
    -- jackie - jade and oak

  11. I had an app that organized all my accounts but then I got nervous and deleted it like what if it got hacked or something? I know it's super irrational but I'm kinda crazy like that ;-)

  12. i used to be really great about this stuff but i honestly have not been lately. i need to check out all of this stufff!

  13. My husband and I just really started using Mint in the last month or so. We had a spreadsheet budget- but we were bad about keeping track of our exact expenses each month. Mint is nice so you can sort it into categories.

    These are all great tools though!

  14. These are much needed ideas, I'm coming back to this!

  15. Dave Ramsey is amazing i followed his system and I got out of debt, if i can do it anyone can he is great!

  16. I'm loving doing the 52 week savings plan! I'm trying to stick at 50 each week so it adds up more, but my post-christmas spending has been shameful!

  17. I like the idea of the 52 week savings plan... it seems the least daunting to me - money stresses me out like you wouldn't believe!!!!

  18. I am always looking for a good program to help me with our household budget. So far I have been using a notebook and excel file. I'd like something fancier.

  19. I'm going to (finally) get a smart phone with our tax return. Do you know of any apps that help with budgeting? I've already got our budget set, but I get really bad about writing stuff down because I don't always have my notebook handy. Thanks for posting this :)

  20. I'm the worst with money and numbers, honestly. The main rule in my house, though, is don't use credit. Buying an $8 lunch and then paying interest on top of it is not cool! We use an American Express paid off monthly for everything plus debit. I think it makes it easier to see where your money goes when it's not spread over five cards, like my expenses were in college!

  21. Since we got married we've used an old school, extremely boring account book that gets the job done. I write down all the money going in and out and categorize it into it's appropriate sections. I'm not the primary income earner, but I really like that I know with the turn of a page exactly how much we have and how much we're spending in different areas--like you said, it's an organization project, and that fits my personality perfectly!

  22. I love Mint... but I still have problems following my budget. So, this month we are going to try an envelope system for the budgets we keep busting. And, I'm a protector too... until it comes to online shopping - why does it always get us?

  23. This is awesome, thank you! I'm book marking this to come back to!

  24. My husband and I just took Dave Ramsey's class and it was really helpful. I think he gives/points out a lot of common sense things that sometimes we get too caught up to think of.
    I've also used mint briefly- I thought it was helpful for a little while but after about 3 months stopped checking it.

    Danielle @ Allusional

  25. Love love love this! I've heard wonderful things about Dave Ramsey. I recently purchased YNAB which helps you manage the money you have, and assign every single dollar in your bank account a "job". I've had the program since the summer but I really invested the time to sit down and figure out the philosophy of it ... it really is a great program. My mom thinks I'm silly for spending $60 on something to help me save money (ha!) but I really do think that it's going to help us pay off at least $10,000 in debt this year!

  26. My husband and I read the Dave Ramsey book and loved the idea of cash envelopes, but just never did it. We should really re-focus! We are also doing the 30 day savings plan! I'm a little nervous for November and December, but heck, that's a lot of savings!

  27. Totally just getting around to this post now whoops! Remind me next time I come in to bring the Dave Ramsey book for you to borrow. We're definitely working on this area too :)

  28. Dave is a smart dude. I am reading one of his books right now and he has a way or writing that isn't intimidating and makes sense. Good luck!



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