What Are Your Priorities?

One of the most important exercises in financial planning is laying out your priorities. A priority list and its order provide necessary guidance as to how we should best go about achieving our goals, and which ones are more important than others. The exercise is made all the more challenging in that we actually have two sets of priorities in our lives: Aspirational Priorities – those that we list when talking to our financial advisor or sharing with friends, and Confirmed Priorities – those actually reflected in our spending. The first represents our hopes and ideals, while the second confirms in a rather pesky way, our actual priorities in practice

A financial plan relies on a number of resources to accomplish goals, such as how much we will save, how much risk we will comfortably take, how long we will work for salary, when we want to achieve certain goals, and so forth. These are the significant, rather obvious parts of planning. But truly effective planning balances the long term with the short term to help us align not only the large long-term-focused elements toward achieving our goals with our lifestyle now. Relatively small adjustments in our current spending that don’t impact the things about our lifestyle we enjoy, perhaps even help us enhance them, can have huge multiplier effects on our goals down the road.

In order to align our current spending with our near-term and long-term goals, we have to understand where our actual spending goes first. Today’s technology makes the task easier than ever before by removing most or all the time-consuming manual entry, allowing you to spend your time analyzing and purposing your spending. Here is a list of a few of the best applications out there for tracking your spending.

Money Guide Pro

  • Beacon clients have access to one of the best applications for spending analysis and budgeting, without ads.
  • To access it, simply go to our website, click on Login/Planning Portal and select the Accounts tab at the top of the screen. Enter the online credentials for any checking, credit, loan or other financial accounts you want to track.
  • If you do not have login credentials for your planning portal, please call us to set one up.


  • Platform: Apple and Android
  • Cost: Free
  • Strength: Best overall once you factor in ease of use

YNAB – You Need a Budget

  • Platform: Apple and Android
  • Cost: $6.99/month
  • Strength: A bit more complex than Mint, but in a good way


  • Platform: Apple and Android
  • Cost: Free
  • Strength: Budgeting plain and simple


  • Platform: Apple and Android
  • Cost: $4/month up to $549/year for a complete plan
  • Strength: Time-tested envelope budgeting coupled with the latest technology


  • Platform: Apple and Android
  • Cost: Free to $6 a month
  • Strength: Great for couples who want to share in the budgeting process together


  • Platform: Apple and Android
  • Cost: Free (paid subscription available)
  • Strength: Great tool to protect against overspending

And let’s not forget the classic paper envelope and Excel spreadsheet options.  If you’re using either of these methods and its working for you then keep doing what you’re doing.   As always, if you have any questions about planning for your priorities, budgeting or anything else financial please let us know.  We’re here to help!