Life gets busy and it is easy to lose track of what your money is doing. This is compounded by a wallet full of plastic access cards and very few cash transactions.

In the days when cash was king, people were conscious of how much money they were spending on groceries, gas and even the coffee shop. But these days, when your cell phone can double as your debit card, it’s easy for your finances to run astray.

Fortunately, there are several tools and software programs to help you manage your money. Many of these programs are online. Some will even import all your banking and finance information for you.

The Big Picture

Whether you choose to download software to manage your personal finances or use a web-based program, there are important features that all money management tools will have in common.

Make sure you take the time to set up all your accounts, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicle loans and balances on credit cards. When it comes to financial management, every penny counts.

Many web-based programs can be authorized to import all your banking information on your behalf. This is especially useful if you have many accounts or deal with several financial institutions. The information will only be read-only, but it’s a good way to make sure all your information is fresh.

Once you have entered all your accounts and debts, the program can consolidate the information and give you a good look at the big picture. Most programs also give you other options to choose from, such as highlighting your monthly expenditures.

The big picture of your money situation can be a long overdue wake up call. Especially when it comes to small, impulse type purchases like take out coffee or scratch tickets.

Creating a Budget

Personal financial management is not just about knowing where your money is, but also about using it in the best possible way. Some people cringe at the thought of a budget because it feels too restrictive. However, budgets can be set up for just about any personal or household financial goal.

For example, if you have a goal to retire at a certain age, you can use your money management tools in the software to figure out if you are on the right track. Sometimes, a small adjustment to account for inflation is all you need to ensure a robust retirement.

Weekly spending is, of course, an area that will need to be examined. Even the most frugal and pennywise consumers find surprises in their weekly spending habits. If you wish to put limits on your spending, your money management program can send you alerts when you are nearing your maximum allowance.

Allowing for Emergencies

Sometimes things come up that put a dent in your plans. Pricey medicine to combat an unexpected illness, a flat tire or unanticipated home repairs often disrupt the best intentions. However, with personal finance software, you can allocate some of your weekly income into an emergency fund so that life’s mishaps won’t create financial stress as well.

When it comes to using money management tools and software for personal financial management, you can get as complex or simple as you like. Small goals or big savings plans, they can all be planned for with the click of a button, before you tap your bank card.