Online services can help you budget your money better and keep a check on your fitness plan. We show you how to get fit and financially sorted.
Checking your bank balance to find you've hit the red and there's still two weeks left until pay day: not a good feeling. And things can get even worse if you have to eke out cash over a whole year. As we head towards the end of another fiscal year, many of us will be feeling the pinch.
Rather than suffer the same fate next year, make a commitment to organise your finances. That way, you'll have a fighting chance of staying the right side of your overdraft and may even have some left over for a rainy day.
First, you need to work out your monthly income and outgoings. A spreadsheet in a password-protected folder marked ‘Personal' will be useful, and will let you see how well you're keeping to your budget, month by month.
There's no need to set up a spreadsheet from scratch: plenty of free or low-cost programs have been designed for this purpose. You can use an online tool to track what you're spending, but many of us prefer a PC-based program.
Unfortunately, few such programs are geared up for UK home users; most are aimed at the US market, and the rest tend to be designed for larger businesses.
One notable exception is the UK-focused Personal Accountz (£39 inc VAT). We use this in our first workshop.
For a useful online tool, try BudgetBrain, a free program offered by respected website moneysavingexpert.com. It doesn't display a running total of what's gone in and out of your account, but it lets you compare your income and outgoings.
While you're getting your cash in order, consider applying the same sort of discipline to that get-fit resolution you made on New Year's Eve. Similar tracking tools can be used for your diet and fitness regime.
Sort out your finances with Personal Accountz
Step 1. Install Personal Accountz on your PC. Double-click to launch the program if it doesn't happen automatically. The program initially opens to a blank document where you can create your personal account. We'll use this account to keep track of your financial income and outgoings.
Step 2. At the top is the Entries window. Use this to insert details of all your transactions: income such as your salary, or outgoings such as mortgage payments and food bills. The bottom pane displays the Accounts window. This shows a list of all your accounts - your current account, savings and so on - and their current balance.