Staying on a budget when you’re too lazy to keep track


Budgeting is the necessary evil to keep our finances above the floating line, but most people consider it hard, tedious and don’t have the determination to pursue it for a long time. It’s much like losing weight. You get excited the first few days,and then you go back to your destructive habits before you know it.

There are numerous apps and methods to help you keep track of the cashflows and spending, but they are only effective if you update them regularly.

PREPAID CARDS

If you don’t have the patience, you could try grandma’s “envelope method”. In this approach, you designate a fixed amount for each category, spend your paycheck accordingly into paper envelopes and only spend the cash available in the container, with no transfers between them.

Prepaid debit cards

A very efficient way to keep your spending on track without looking like you just came from the 1900’s is to get a prepaid credit card and get acquainted with the attached app. Such a product acts just like any other debit card with the difference that it is not linked to your checking account, but you top it up with the amount of money you intend to spend.

This is a great tool especially if you want to impose strict limits on yourself and only give a daily or weekly spending allowance until you get used to a downsized lifestyle. Without the temptation of swipingthe credit card, you will have to rethink your habits and be more mindful of your choices.

Some cards even have the option to share them with your spouse or partner and keep track of each individual’s spending. This could spark some discussions in the couple in the short term, but it could offer a valuable lesson for the long run.

If you are not sure what to choose and what options you might have for these products, you might find it helpful to know that the AAACreditGuide offers prepaid master cards. These could come from any primary credit card issuer, including VISA, America Express or MasterCard.

Topping these up is easy, you can either transfer money between accounts, at a bank office, use PayPal or other methods, depending on the card’s options.

Tips and tricks

These prepaid cards are useful to help you get a good grasp of your spending, or even give one of them to your teenager to make sure they are not splashing the cash and getting you into debt.

However, pay attention to the fees attached to your card, as most of them will charge $2.5–$5 at each top-up. Also, note that some have a monthly maintenance fee of about $4-5 and even an initial issuing fee, around $1.

On the bright side, you can get back more than you spend on maintenance if you actually use the card with about 1% cash back on the purchases you make. Also, if you make more consistent monthly deposits, the maintenance fee will be waived.

The best part is that most of these cards come with smart apps that can be your financial advisors and track your habits for 30-60 days then give you insights where you could do better.

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