The whole point of budgeting is to manage your resources and increase savings. Paying through your nose for a course, device, or material to help you properly budget your resources, makes the whole process a bit of a joke.
Also, you do not want to use a budget tool that gives absurd reports and sends you into waves of anxiety. Budgeting requires that you have a clear head; anxiety doesn’t allow that. According to Leslie Wayne, the primary and only principle of budgeting is, “do not go over budget”. Paying huge sums for a budgeting tool already flouts this rule.
Some of the most affordable forms of budgeting are the most traditional methods, the earliest forms. Using a Paper and Pen to make your scale of preference and plan your expenses solely on significance or relevance. The only shortcoming of this method is that you could lose your pen or notepad. The other method is “The Envelope Method”. Using several envelopes, you allocate your financial resources to your needs.
This helps you not to overspend.
Microsoft Excel and Spreadsheet also have templates for budget planning. That way, you get to create a database to track your expenses. Some Financial institutions also provide online tools for budgeting, check the banks within your region for options.
The best free online budgeting tools
The most credible budgeting tools in this time are those found online—some of them with AI integrations to aid you. Unlike ten years ago, there are lots of online tools in the market. Some affordable, some free, some expensive, some effective, and others total bad investments. In this list, we compile the most effective, free online budget tools you can find in any region with a good internet connection. Not only do they help you plan your budget, they’re easy to operate too.
Some of these free budgeting tools are;
Mint brought about the birth of online budget tools in 2006. Not only has Mint lasted for so long. They’ve successfully helped over 20 million users plan their financial resources, without pain or fear.
The platform links all bank accounts to your Mint account and updates your budget automatically, with every withdrawal or deposit. It has a system that helps you analyse your expenses at time intervals, based on your spending history and financial statement. There is also a menu that allows you to create a debit card bill payment plan.
MINT is an online budgeting tool and is also available on Windows, Android and iOS platforms.
PocketGuard is an online application that helps you plan your finances. It also connects your financial accounts to your budget accounts. The developers of this tool, realize the dangers associated with sharing your bank details and have created encryption that protects your data from third-party agencies. Pocket Guard analyses your bills, debts, other payments and suggests ways through which you can save more.
Personal Capital is one of the most efficient budgeting tools. It doesn’t only help you plan your budget; it helps you with investment plans and also manages your retirement account. Although registration and the use of the budgeting tools are free, the investment tracking option on Personal Capital requires users to pay a token. One per cent of every successful investment.
For individuals who would prefer a platform that grants them the opportunity to manage all their finances and investments on one page, Personal Capital is their final call.
Unsplurge, unlike the previous budgeting tools on this list, helps you to manage your finances for a particular goal, in contrast to the other general-purpose budgeting. Unsplurge helps you to save up for a specific investment, property or pleasure.
Besides helping you keep track of your savings and spending. The application also gives you viable suggestions using your finances as a yardstick, to help you boost your savings.
For those looking for a viable method to effect down-payment of debts and boost savings, SavvyMoney is the most suitable platform to aid them.
The fundamental idea is that you aim to understand your present financial situation and the deeds or misdeeds which have placed you there. After carefully analyzing your financial status, you create a plan for repaying your debts, putting into consideration your income and expenditure.
SavvyMoney helps you stay up-to-date with your progress and also keeps you from derailing. It also gives viable information and suggestions to boost your payments and ease you off the financial stress.
Read Also: Why you should invest today, not tomorrow
Wally is primarily, secondarily and ultimately a budgeting tool. The functions of this platform are solely based on financial and resource budgeting. Although the functions of Wally are limited compared to most online budgeting tools, it tracks income and expenses efficiently. Wally is completely a cost-free app, which grants users the opportunity to track their costs either by typing them into the blanks provided or taking photographs of receipts.
Wally provides notifications for bills due for payment, saving goals, and other milestones in the platform.
Similar to most online budget tools, Wally offers applications for Android, iOS and Windows users. Wally is free from all sorts of payments and allows for a wide variety of foreign currencies.
Simple is more than just another free online budgeting platform. It does more than manage your budget. It is also an electronic banking platform that can substitute for your traditional bank account. Its banking option allows for more effective interactions between your bank operations and your budget.
Simple offers a safe-to-spend feature that lets users know when they can make extra expenditures asides from the ones previously included in the budget. Also, it contains a savings feature that encourages users to continue saving.
Simple is an all-around financial management app, that allows you to track your bank account, budget and savings on the same platform.
It is free to use and available for all digital devices.
In conclusion, regardless of what budgeting tool or platform you decide to use, the main principle of budgeting remains, “do not go over your budget”. Effective budgeting and savings is a step forward to financial independence.
When sourcing for budgeting aid, look for the ones which suit your planning style and provides you with seamless service.
How to fund your business without a debt sentence
The lack of funding is a great excuse for people who are not really ready to start a business.
According to Mark Cuban, one of American’s entrepreneurs, owner of Dallas Mavericks, and TV Personality, the biggest mistake most people make is to think that they have to raise money to start a business.
As a financial advisor, I totally agree with Mark. There is no such thing as a successful business that became successful because of funding. Yet every week I receive tons of emails asking for advice on how to raise money or if I would invest in their businesses.
The answer always is “No” and you will discover the reason at the end of this article.
While I understand that certain businesses genuinely do need funding, and while funding is necessary at certain stages in a business, I do not think that every business needs funding to get started. And in fact, the majority of funding needs are not real funding needs, but the lack of ability to create money from thin air.
Most Funding requests are disguised gap in creativity and sales skills. Because with the right sales and creative skills, you can create the amount of money that you want. And you can also break down your business into the version that you can fund with your own money.
Thus funding problem is majorly disguised creativity and sales problems. And quite frankly the lack of funding is a great excuse for people who are not really ready to start a business.
I know this because great entrepreneurs are not stopped by funding challenges. And the greatest entrepreneurs in the world all started in spite of funding challenges.
Amazon started out from the garage of Bezos’ in Bellevue, Washington. He started out with funding of almost $250,000 from his parents.
Facemash now Facebook started in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and a group of friends. They started out with sweat equity, technical skills, and the ability to sell their idea and build a solid community.
Apple started out in Jobs’ garage on April 1, 1976, by college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. They started their business with sweat equity, technical skills, and the ability to sell a not so perfect Apple 1 product without a monitor, keyboard, or casing.
Bill Gates and his business partner Paul Allen built the world’s largest software business, Microsoft, from technological innovation, keen business strategy, and aggressive business tactics.
You will find a similar story for Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, Dangote, and so on.
These men built their businesses from the ground up with sweat equity, the right attitude, personal savings, or support from families. Funding did not stop them and funding will not stop you if you are serious about entrepreneurship. Quite frankly funding at the early stage of a business increases business stress, dilutes control, and expands leadership complexity.
So while you may fantasize about some strange investor sent by God coming along. To lift your business off the ground. In reality, this rarely happens. You must find ways to fund your way to a proven business model. Investors rarely fund ordinary ideas or struggling businesses. They fund businesses that are already succeeding but need funding to expand that success. This is why banks rarely lend to SMEs but do so easily to successful businesses. And why the majority of successful business owners started off on their own
So why do people still waste time looking for funding?
People gravitate towards funding for three reasons. The first is the Fantasy of overnight success. The second is the desire to use another person’s money to fix fundamental problems. That can only be solved through discipline and hard work. And the third is to make an already successful business even more successful.
Among these three reasons, only one is of interest to the investor. Investors are not on a mission to rescue your business or make you rich. They are on a mission to increase their wealth and achieve more financial success. They will only invest in businesses that can help them achieve their goals. And until your business develops this capacity you are not yet funding worthy.
Thus the only purpose for funding is to transfer investor’s idle funds or funds that are less optimized to a profitable business vehicle. That has the capacity to generate higher profits. This means that your business must have the capacity to turnaround investors’ money very quickly. If your business is not yet at this stage. You should focus on bringing it up to this stage and then attracting investor’s funding can become easy for you.
The key to successful funding is to answer the three funding questions. First, is my business fundable? Second, do I need funding for wealth-creating purposes? And third is my business at the stage where it can turn around investors’ money without losing it? Answering these questions is key to funding your business.
A business is ready for funding when it has certain key attributes. There are seven key attributes that attract investors and make a business funding worthy.
Watch out for the next part of this interesting series
Grace Agada is The Senior Financial Happiness Director @ Create Solid Wealth. She is an Author and Column Contributor in Six National Newspaper. She is a contributor at BellaNaija, Nairametrics and Proshare and she is on a mission to help working-class professionals and CEOs become more financially successful. To learn more about Grace and how she can help you send an email to [email protected]
How to reduce your electricity bill in Lagos
Find out a few tips on how you can reduce your electricity bill.
With the recent hike in electricity tariff, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs, especially if you already have a prepaid meter installed at home. Currently, the new tariff increase since October 2020 is over 100%, meaning everyone would start paying twice what they previously paid.
Things are hard enough as it is especially in a place like Lagos, and if you don’t plan to pay double, you have to adjust accordingly. Although you would certainly pay more, but knowing how to reduce your electricity usage in Lagos would do you a lot of good. Read on to find out a few tips on how you can reduce your electricity bill.
How to Reduce Your Electricity Bill in Lagos
To start with, you should know that for these tips to work for you; you need a prepaid meter installed. Without a prepaid meter, your bill pretty much runs on estimates and leaves you with little room to contest its accuracy. If you want to save power, start by getting a prepaid meter installed at home.
After that, here are a few tips on how to reduce your electricity bill in Lagos:
1. Sniff out background power consumption:
Many don’t know this, but turning off a device while leaving it plugged in does not cut off the power supply. The device still consumes residue energy called vampire or stand by power. To avoid this, cut off power to a device by turning off the socket and the device’s power switch.
2. Replace all your bulbs at home with energy-efficient models:
Although non-energy-efficient bulbs are cheaper to purchase, they become more expensive in the long run to use. This is because they consume far more power than energy-saving bulbs. For example, the average wattage of an ordinary bulb is around 60 to 200. However, energy-saving bulbs are as low as 7 to 11 watts. This means that one would consume more than ten times the other’s power; the choice is yours. Also, it would help if you become more cautious with how long you leave your bulb on. Turn them off during the day, and when you want to sleep at night; especially your kitchen, toilet and bathroom lights. Only leave security lights on.
3. Limit your fan and Air conditioner’s runtime:
The ceiling fan is one of the home’s highest passive power consumers. You might not know it, but your fan practically runs all day and night, which significantly impacts your power bills. One thing you can do is replace all your fans with energy-efficient models if you have the means. However, if you don’t have the energy-efficient model, simply regulate how long the fan runs. The energy-consuming capacity of an air conditioner is well known. Keep it running for a day, and it would make a telling impact on your bills. A 1.5hp (1119watts) Ac running for 10 hours at a rate of N60 per kilowatt would cost you well over N30,000 alone. You can shuffle run time between your fan and air conditioner, depending on how many units you purchase per month. Limiting your fan to running only about 8 hours a day can save you hundreds of naira.
4. Revisit your refrigerator:
This is another appliance that consumes the most power at home. The average watt consumption of a refrigerator is 1200 watts per day (depending on the model), which means they consume one of, if not the highest power at home. You can reduce consumption by purchasing a smaller freezer, which is the more expensive approach or doing the following:
- Move the refrigerator to an area with adequate air circulation, as it helps it become more power-efficient.
- Your fridge should also be at least 2 inches away from the wall and not stand directly exposed to sunlight.
- Another thing you should do is not stuff up your refrigerator. This reduces the overall efficiency of the unit because of the lesser space available for air circulation. It also means that the unit would draw more power to meet the demand. Ensure you defrost the fridge regularly too
Asides from the tips mentioned in this article, you should also sit down to study your home. If possible, create a list of all your appliances and their watt rating. Start trimming down consumption by replacing the device with a more energy-efficient model, or reducing its use.
How to fund capital projects debt-free with high interest yielding investments
These are the four things you need to fund your capital projects debt-free.
The one thing that will reveal to you the gaps in your current financial situation is capital projects. A capital project is any project that is beyond your current and future financial capacity to execute. For most people, capital projects lead them into debt. Debt and Capital projects go hand in hand because the income of most people is still struggling to meet basic bills. And in instances where income is high, expenses overwhelm income. So whether you are a high-income earner or a low-income earner, the chances are high that you will struggle to fund certain capital projects in your life.
To fund capital projects, you need four things to be working simultaneously in your life. The First thing is your ability to earn high incomes. The second thing is your ability to keep a major part of that income. The third thing is your ability to grow that income without losing it. And the fourth thing is your ability to build solid Passive Income that exceeds your current Active Income. These are the four things you need to fund capital projects debt-free. Unfortunately, only a few people know how to do all four things correctly. Certain people hardly thrive in one area. But, if funding capital projects debt free is important to you. You must know how to do all four things well or surround yourself with people who can help you.
Funding a capital project debt-free is a difficult task to achieve if all you have is a modest income and meager savings. The lower your income the more things become capital projects to you. This means that what is a capital project for you may not be capital projects for another person. To help us unify our definition of capital projects. Let us use an example of capital projects that we all agree is the most difficult to fund debt-free. This example is Homeownership.
Homeownership is a type of capital project and one of the most popular capital projects because many people want to achieve it. By the time you are an independent adult, the desire for homeownership is already burning inside of you. This desire comes from parent influences, external pressure, and the frustration of paying rent to a homeowner. Owning a home is thus one of the most universally accepted capital projects with a global desire. It is also the most expensive capital project to fund. Yet despite its expansiveness, most people want to achieve it. Every year millions of people attempt to climb the homeownership ladder. A few of them make it. Many of them are buried in debt. And many more fail to achieve it. This is because the desire for homeownership does not automatically translate to owning a home. And here is why.
Many people are trying to own a home on the fragile back of a low income and low savings. The truth is one income, and low savings cannot fund the homeownership project. To fund your dream home you need multiple streams of income and big portion savings. Second, you need to overcome the temptation of owning a home too soon. Many people rush to own a remote and low budget home. A home where people struggle to come to due to its distance and neighborhood. Owning a home is not about being the first to own a crappy home. It is about being the first to own the dream home in a dream location and to do it debt-free. Attempting to own a home too soon is the reason most people end up with crappy homes that are way below their league. Homeownership is best achieved at a time when you are most financially capable to fund it. This is not to say you just sit and do nothing before then. But to say that you use that time to build the solid cash reserves you need to fund your dream home.
So how then do you fund your dream home?
To fund your dream home there are three paths you can take.
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The first path is the Loan path. This is where you borrow money and end up in debt. The second path is the bootstrap savings path. This is where you painstakingly save your way to homeownership. Only a few people ever achieve this. The third and most effective path is to create your own interest-free solid cash reserves and then use them to fund your dream home. This is the Path we will be dwelling on in this article.
So how then do you create your own interest-free cash reserves?
To create your own interest-free cash reserves there are four things you must do.
The First is to develop Income security skills. The second thing is to leverage a complementary Side Hustle. The third thing is to establish a Financial defense System. And the fourth thing is to use a multipurpose, high interest yielding investment vehicle to build your cash reserves. Below I explain each of these points in detail.
Develop Income Security Skills
There is only one way to secure your income in the world. This way is not to secure your job. But to develop high-income skills that preserve your ability to earn high incomes. The truth is there is no job security out there and since homeownership is a long-term process. You need certain skills to guarantee a continuous flow of cash. There are three income security skills that can help you achieve this. The first is problem-solving or creativity skill. The second is Relationship building or Networking skills. And the third is marketing and sales skills. These are the three skills you need to secure your homeownership income. And ensure you are never recycled back into the pool of broke people. Developing income security skills is thus critical for funding your dream home. The key to success here is to invest in developing and refining these skills. And to put them to practice and perfect them. If you need help developing these skills or practicing and perfecting them send an email to [email protected]
Get a Complimentary High Income Side Hustles
No homeownership project can be funded debt-free from a single meager source of income. Thus to fund your dream home you have to grow your main income and add another source of income to it. To grow your main income you need to rise to positions that have a direct impact on profit and revenue. Then you need to find a side hustle that complements your main income.
The problem is most people do not know the side hustles that complements their main income. They are also concerned about whether or not they will like this side hustle or make the desired income out of it.
The key to identifying the side hustle that is right for you is to consider these three things. The first is your interest. Can you do and promote this side hustle easily? The second is the income speed. How soon before this side hustle produces the kind of income that you desire. And the third is the workload and time requirement. How much time do you have to invest to generate the kind of income that you desire? Adding a side hustle that increases workload. Consumes time. Reduces job efficiency and drains current income is a mistake. The key here is to identify side hustles that complements your main income. And ensure that your side hustle has the high-income capacity and is aligned with your area of interests
To find this kind of side hustle you need to identify your current area of interest. So if you are reading this article right now. Chances are high that you are interested in making more money and funding capital projects debt-free. If you can find other people within your circle who are also interested in making more money. And funding capital projects. And if you and these people are willing to invest in products and services that can help you. You can make a high-income side hustle from it. Granted that the product or service you promote solves a high-income problem. Thus to earn high incomes you need to choose side hustles that can pay you high income. Getting rich through a side hustle is thus about first solving your own problems. And then showing other people how you can help them solve the same problem. This is the fastest way to get on the High-income side hustle ladder. Every other way takes time, produce low income, and increases your workload. To fund your dream home debt-free. You must choose side hustles that require you to work less earn more and produce income in less time. This is the fastest way to fund your dream home.
Build Your Own Personal Financial Defense System
The worse way to try and fund a capital project such as homeownership is to do it without a financial defense system in place. A financial defense system is a system that can provide you income in the presence or absence of a Job. This is important because homeownership is a long-term project. And you need the continuous flow of income to survive.
So how do you build a solid financial defense system that protects you throughout the homeownership process?
To build a solid financial defense system there are four things you must do. The first is to hit a big portion savings target. The second is to make your savings failure-proof. The third thing is to shield your savings from financial distractions. And the fourth is to spend in the direction of Freedom.
- Achieve a Big Portion Savings Target
Saving is a critical part of every investing activity. So if funding your dream home is important to you. You must save a significant part of your income. To save 50% of your income for example there are two things you can do. The first is to increase your income, to the point where it overwhelms your expenses. To do this you need high-income skills and high-income side hustles. The second thing is to reduce your expenses to the point it becomes lower than your savings. The fastest and most effective way to do this is to focus on increasing savings and not reducing expenses. And there are two ways to increase savings. The first is to increase savings by 1% every month until you hit a big portion savings target. Your expenses will adjust accordingly. The second way is to deduct a big portion of your income as savings from the source. And figure out how to live on what is left. If you survive after a month it means you can live on what is left. These are the two smart ways to increase your savings and invariably adjust your expenses.
- Make savings Failure Proof
One of the abilities you must have if you want to fund your dream home debt-free is the ability to consistently save without skipping it. Skipping savings is postponing your financial freedom and homeownership dream. Thus if you want to save without fail, you must make your savings failure-proof. To make savings failure proof you need to deduct savings from the source. Use compulsory savings vehicles such as group contributions or standing orders. And be accountable to someone you trust and respect.
- Shield savings from Financial Distractions
The biggest killer of all the savings in the world is financial distractions. The inability to stop unplanned events and people from stealing your savings. Financial distraction derails your saving from its original purpose. And this elongates your ability to own your own home. To own your own home you must shield your savings from financial distractions. To shield savings from distractions you need certain protective investment vehicles. You also need to assign a purpose to every idle fund. And to work with a mentor to keep idle funds tied up for the right purpose. This is the only way to fund your dream home in record time and without delays.
- Spend in the direction of Freedom
There are two ways to spend money. The first is to spend in the direction of freedom and the second is to spend in the direction of poverty. To Fund a dream home debt-free you must spend in the direction of freedom. When you spend in ways that use up big portions of your income. You are facing the direction of poverty. And when you spend in ways that save up bigger portions of your income You are facing the direction of freedom. The key here is to save more than you spend and spend in the direction of where you want to go.
These are the four things to do. To build a solid Financial defense system that supports you throughout the homeownership process.
Choose a Multi-Purpose High-Interest Yielding Investment Vehicle
There are many investment vehicles in the world. But the most suited and effective investment vehicle. For funding capital projects is the multi-purpose high-interest yielding long-term investment vehicle. This is a special purpose vehicle that has been designed to fund capital projects. It is a multi-purpose vehicle because it can fund many capital projects within the same time frame. It is also safe and high interest yielding because it is a long-term investment vehicle. So if you are considering owning a home debt-free at some time in the future. This is the best investment vehicle for you. The key to investing is to never lose money, especially when building towards a capital project.. Once you choose the right investment vehicles that preserve your investment. You will fund your dream home in no time.
The truth is you will remain the same person year after year except for your ability to make more money. Your ability to keep more money. And your ability to grow that money without losing it. The more you master these three abilities the richer you become. And the easier it will be to fund your dream home. There is nothing as powerful as having zero cash worries when you want to fund your dream home.
If you want to own your own home, make extra income, or fund capital projects debt free we can help you. Send an email to [email protected]
Grace Agada is The Senior Financial Happiness Director @ Create Solid Wealth. She is an author, and column contributor in six national newspapers. She is a contributor at BellaNaija, Nairametrics and Proshare and she is on a mission to help working-class professionals and CEOs become more financially successful. To learn more about Grace and how she can help you send an email to [email protected]