If you are in your early 20’s and still living at home with your parents it possible that you don’t have a lot of expenses. Therefore, your budget mentality may be if you’ve got money then you spend it; and your budget finishes when the money runs out

However, if you are out of school and out of your parents’ house your budget mentality may be a bit different.  Instead of wondering how you will spend your next paycheque, you may be wondering how your next paycheque will pay both your rent and make your student loan payment.

Regardless of whether you have a lot of money or a little bit of money, and regardless of whether you have monthly expenses that currently surpass your monthly income…Everyone needs to have a budget.

A personal financial budget allows us to keep track of our spending habits.  Have you ever come home and looked in your wallet and asked yourself “Where did my money go?”  It is important to know where and how we spend our money so that we can cut out unnecessary expenses, if need be.

I personally don’t like to carry a lot of cash in my wallet.  The main reason for this is because I don’t want to be robbed and lose money.  However, I also have a horrible memory and if I always paid cash for everything I would never be able to remember where and when I spent the money.

When permitted I always try to pay for my purchases with my debit card.  Every morning before I take my shower I check my bank account transactions through online banking.  This allows me to verify if there has been any fraud in my bank account, and also keep track of my daily spending.  I like to see how much I spend each day and where I spend it.

If you are not sure how to start planning your personal budget, the first place we should turn to is our Financial Institution. They are the ones who hold our money, and therefore they can help us manage our money…for free.

Many Financial Institutions offer Personal Budget trackers for free.  Here are some great personal budget tools that I found from Canadian and American Financial Institutions:

RBC Royal Bank was the only major Canadian Financial Institution to offer Personal Budget Tools on their homepage.  RBC offers My Finance Tracker for free to all RBC Online Banking Clients.  This is a great tool to set financial goals, track your spending, view your transactions, as well as analyse your spending patterns.  My Finance Tracker is a great alternative to a traditional spreadsheet.  There is a quick tutorial video that explains all of the features and benefits of My Finance Tracker.  The tool is automatically linked to your debt and credit cards.

TD Canada Trust has many tools to help manage, save for, and plan our Personal Finances. However, they do not have one specific all in one application.

Bank of America offers up to the minute credit card account activity, as well as the options to track our personal bank accounts, pay bills, and transfer money through Online Banking, but there is no specific budget software available.

(Photo By EPerales )