Budget & Spending Plan

Here’s the working copy I share of a Spending Plan: BudgetSpendingPlan_RFFM-v2, current as of 12/2/15.

Personal Financial tracking [aka Budgeting]

Is there a software that “does it all” for you? Short answer: no.

YouNeedABudget is a software you download and put on your computer and an app on your phone and the two sync.
– You need to be willing to budget and to enter your spending as you go digitally.
+ A lot of tracking features so you can see what your money goes to.
+ It’s currently $60, which is like $5/month to get your s#*t together. Not bad!

Level Money is a free app for your iPhone or Android which you connect to your bank account[s] and credit card[s], and it tracks your spending.
+ They make it easier to track your spending
– Data mining aspect and that data is, like Level Money, Owned by Capital One.
+ You can see a running tally of how much you have left to spend that day/week, etc.
– You can’t put it on your computer; you might not remember what your budget is if you don’t have your phone…

Wally is a free app for your iPhone or Android that you enter your spending into, to track it.
— It doesn’t automatically collect info for you, e.g. you donyt
+ It DOES show you what you’ve spent on the daily and what’s left in your budget [that you set up].
+ You can take photos of receipts.
— You can’t put a version on your computer.
— It says it “leverages social information” …which perhaps means it connects with your Facebook to remind you where you were, spending money? Again this means, to me, it’s collecting a baller data set on your spending habits but — hey — if you don’t care [and if you’re using Facebook to talk about your spending…you don’t] then perhaps it’s worth it.

Mint is a free [for now] online service you can connect to your bank account(s):
+ On your computer, not phone
+ it has you create budgets, and helps track your spending by importing your bank account activity for you, no need to enter every dang purchase yourself.
– since it’s free, it’s surely datamining you and it puts all your financial data in an additional database online; that’s probably safe but there’s a small chance it’s not. Then again, if you buy things online, you’re taking the same amount of risk. [did you know I work in online database security?]

Overall: No software or app is a replacement for your commitment to making a plan and checking in on that plan, whether you do it digitally or on paper is up to you. Either way: you deserve that commitment!

Credit & Debt [section]

See this post on credit cards and your credit report, or this post on managing old debt on your credit report. You can do this!

Investing Made Easier? [section]

Acorns is an investing service that does something neat — it rounds up your purchases and puts the extra into an investment account. Now any investment could potentially go bust, but mutual funds like what they offer are risk-buffers, and if you’ve been wondering how you can afford to invest, this lets you start with $5. Also, see this post about investing, ethics, and options.


Employment Coaching: I sometimes get the opportunity to promote other people whose work supports self-determination and empowerment, and Sloan is one of those people: a life coach with specialties in resume preparation, interview practice, and workplace cultures. “I help individuals get out of their own way and support organizations with taking on their most difficult challenges. I am committed to the development of people and workplace teams in service of larger social transformation.” LOVE. Contact Sloan here.

Generally Inspirational


There are many companies that provide investment services to individuals, and each has their benefits, drawbacks, and politics. There is an entire post about it here.

I liked the investment resources Fidelity provided, including information for women about investing, they did the video above:

For myself, I use Charles Schwab for my SEP IRA investments. I picked Schwab because I was familiar with their interface from a job I’d had: 


The National Endowment for Financial Education has dozens of handouts and worksheets to help you organize your finances. While they do, like many, focus on salaried employees, there’s lots of sound advice.

Cost Management Tools

Nerd Wallet has price comparisons on all kinds of things, from savings accounts to root canals.