3 affordable things to get your finances on track

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3 affordable things to get your finances on track

You don’t need to spend hundreds on a financial adviser or program to reach your financial goals. There are tons of affordable financial tools available to help you pay off debt, improve your credit, monitor your spending and more.

Check out this list to get started.

A financial help book

Bookstores dedicate an entire section to personal finance, and for good reason. Financial self-help books can provide advice on getting your finances in order, though some of the advice generalized.

Bill Brancaccio, certified financial planner at Rightirement Wealth Partners, recommends Dave Ramsey’s books. His bestseller, “The Total Money Makeover,” costs $15.99.

“(Ramsey) emphasizes there is no magic bullet and it is up to you to spend less and save more,” Brancaccio said. “He has baby steps laid out for getting your financial house in order.”

Check out our reading list for more suggestions.

A budgeting app

Want a more personalized approach? Try a budgeting app. Depending which one you choose, you can track your spending, automate your savings and invest with the click of a button.

Many budgeting apps are free, but most don’t offer customized features or hands-on coaching.

A more comprehensive option is You Need a Budget. The service costs $83.99 per year. YNAB monitors your income and expenses and provides educational support to help you live within your means, said Jeffrey Tomaneng, certified financial planner at Sapers & Wallack.

“It’s an inexpensive and convenient way to be more mindful and engaged in your personal finances,” he said.

Interested in investing? Check out our roundup of the best investment apps.

Notebook

If your finances are relatively straightforward, take your budgeting old school. Use a plain sheet of paper or get a monthly budget planner (like this $8 one) to keep track of your spending and check your progress over time.

“You can’t go on a trip without a road map. Sit down once a week and go through everything,” said Jon Ten Haagen, certified financial planner and founder of Ten Haagen Financial Group. “Once you have a budget that works, review it periodically.”

And don’t forget a pen.

The bottom line

“The simplest tool a lot of people fail to utilize is common sense,” said Peter Palion, certified financial planner and president of Master Plan Advisory. “People buy stuff and don’t use it. So don’t go buying stuff without a purpose.”

Not all financial tools are good. Read the reviews and make sure it’s legit before buying. Consider a cheaper or free alternative, like this downloadable budgeting spreadsheet.

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Image: Nastia Kobzarenko