Personal Finance: Organize, Manage, Research, and Invest Online
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Since your allowance days, you've been on a budget. Then, you had to make tough choices like ... movies or candy? These days, things are a little more complicated. However, planning and sticking to a budget doesn't have to be difficult. If you do it right, you'll find you can get your finances running more smoothly than ever. In fact, with the right information and tools, the process can be simple and rewarding.
- You can make your own budget easily using any offline spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel. Excel has tools that allow you input formulas into cells, get the sum of rows and columns automatically, and even make charts of your spending.
- Many credit card companies will provide you with an end-of-year (or -month) summary of what categories you spent money on: groceries, clothing, furniture, electronics, restaurants, etc. Having information about where you've spent money in the past will help you to determine a reasonable plan for the future.
- Personal budgeting software can be customized based on your unique expenditures. For information on online budgeting, check out PersonalBudgetingSoftware.com, where you'll find articles like this one, which discusses why (and how) to get an "Online Budget Makeover."
- Some budgeting software programs ask that you enter your account information. Always make sure a site is secure before you input any personal information. If you feel skeptical, choose a software program that is less invasive. For more tips on protecting yourself online and spotting suspicious sites, consult the findingDulcinea Internet Security Guide.
- "Open source" is Internet language for free software. Some budgeting programs are free, and to download them, you'll be redirected to another Web site that hosts open source material; for example, sourceforge.net.
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