So your bankruptcy case is over and you really don’t want to ever see me again. (Don’t worry, I don’t take it personally.) The best way to get your finances in order is to sit down and figure out your income and expenses, prepare a budget, and stick to it.
Your budget should include automated savings to a personal savings account and a retirement account and well regulated spending. (Betterment.com offers great low cost options for those of you who do not have retirement through work! Mention that Sarah Crouch referred you and we both get a bonus…just kidding…but really mention it. 🙂
You can do this on a spreadsheet, on a piece of paper, or on the computer.
Now for those of you who are very tech savvy there is a plethora of good money management choices for your smartphone available out there.
Mint.com is on the computer and on your phone. You plug in your accounts and it tells you when bills are due, how much you are spending on what, and whether you are on track to meet your goals. It is a great overall app that will help even the worst budgeter figure out what they are doing right and wrong in their financial life. It has an Iphone and android app or a website you can work with. I recommend setting it up on the website as set-up on the app looks possible but might be a bit unwieldy.
Big Pro: IT IS FREE! This is a perfect way for you to get started.
Recommended for: Chapter 7 clients starting to get back on their feet! Chapter 13 clients in a bankruptcy case trying to maintain a budget.
LearnVest takes everything a step further. It pairs you with a financial planner that helps you get on the right track for the goal of your choice, be that a budget, a five year plan, or a long term goal. This means that LearnVest costs some money but if you have spent some time on Mint and your financial house is in order it is probably money well spent for the professional assistance that you will get as you move on from your bankruptcy.
It has a top notch website and an Iphone app….and did we mention they give you a financial planner.
Big Pro: You can start investing with assistance from a pro for a very very reasonable price.
Recommended for: Chapter 13 clients…you haven’t had that Trustee payment in your budget for awhile so you should be budgeted around it already, why not talk to a professional (it is only 20 bucks a month!) about how to make sure that money is spent right after your bankruptcy case!
Level is perfect for me. I have a Mint account that I love and use frequently and I should have a LearnVest account (I know, I know, I am working on it, I promise), but the account I started in the last week and am most fond of is my Level account. This app basically tells you how much is going out, how much is coming in and how much you are allowed to spend that day and that week. It is grand. I just get my phone out, pull up the screen, and it tells me if I can afford to eat dinner out that night. This will work well in conjunction with mint or Learnvest to keep you on track.
Recommended for: The tech savvy during and after ANY chapter of bankruptcy. It is only on the Iphone and is clearly designed for people 35 and under. Setup was a bit cumbersome but once I spent the time on it I found the app to be well worth it. If you can deal with the tech this app is great for EVERYONE. Seriously. I haven’t eaten out all week because of it but that is a good thing.
So there you have it. Technology can be used to keep your budget on track so you never have to come see Bruce and I again. If you need us we will be here because stuff happens, sadly the Iphone cannot stop you from becoming ill or losing your job, but hopefully with your new-found insight because of your bankruptcy and your new budget it won’t be anytime soon.