Editor’s Note: We originally published this popular list of the best paid and free monthly budgeting tools in March of 2008. A lot has changed since then—a couple of the featured budget tools are no longer available. So here’s an updated—and expanded—list!
We all want to budget better.
That’s why a monthly budget is a crucial part of any financial plan. Budgeting the old fashioned way––with a stack of receipts and a calculator, was a time-consuming bore. But today, dozens of powerful budgeting software programs, spreadsheets, and templates obliterate any excuse for spending without a budget. Some cost just a few dollars a month, others are 100% free. Check them out:
Free Budgeting Software
- Mint. Mint.com is a free Web and mobile budgeting tool. Users can securely link bank accounts and credit cards to Mint, create budgets, and set alerts for when balances are low or spending exceeds set amounts in a certain category. More about Mint. Free.
- MoneyStrands.A Web budgeting tool that links to bank accounts and credit cards and accepts manually or bulk-uploaded transactions from bank accounts. Free.
- Rainy Day Budget. A free, online, manual budget tool. Free.
- GnuCash. Free financial software for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Handles small business accounting, too. Free.
- Yodlee MoneyCenter. Free online money management tool that aggregates bank accounts. Free.
Paid Budgeting Software
- You Need a Budget. Personal finance management tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux based on a proprietary four-step budgeting methodology. Free trial, then $59.95.
- Mvelopes. Web and mobile budgeting software program that mimics the physical envelopes-based budgeting system in which you put your cash into envelopes for things like groceries, gas, utilities, etc. $8-$14 monthly.
- PearBudget. “Really simple budgeting”. Free trial, then $3 a month.
- Quicken. A full-featured personal finance management software application for Windows and Mac. $59.99.
- PocketSmith. A Web-based calendar/budget that forecasts your future cash flow. Three plans available: Free, $5 or $12 a month.
Free Budget Spreadsheets
- J. Money’s Financial Snapshot and Budget. Budget spreadsheet combined with net worth (debt and bank account balance summary). Free.
- Four-step Budget Template. A very simple, free spreadsheet from the blog Life After College. Free.
- MoneyShrugged Budget. Broken into categories based on major spending areas (housing, transportation, insurance, etc.) Free.
- Enemy of Debt’s Deluxe Budget. Includes a budget, spending worksheet, check ledger, and more. Free.
- Fiscal Fizzle’s Monthly Report Template. A complete spreadsheet for household financial planning. Free.
- Free Monthly Budget Spreadsheet. Written by yours truly, this spreadsheet helps you manually track not only what you want to spend in the month, but what you spent by day. Free.
Paid Budget Spreadsheets
- Simple Planning Excel Budget Planner A powerful Excel-based budget planner. The site also offers a variety of other Excel-based financial tools Free trial, then $15.95.
- George’s Budget. A budgeting spreadsheet. $19.95.
Other Cool Tools
The following tools aren’t strictly budget tools, but they are related to smart money management.
- Personal Capital. Personal Capital is an exciting newcomer that also aggregates checking and credit accounts, but their real strength lies in aggregating your investment accounts, analyzing your total portfolio, and providing investment recommendations.
- Debt Free Adventure’s How Much Your Debt Costs You. A spreadsheet to help you figure out how much your debt costs in interest each month. Free.
- SavvyMoney. An online debt reduction planning application. Like the “Weight Watchers of getting out of debt”. Free trial, or free for members of participating credit unions.
- Shoeboxed. A receipt scanning and organization service. Mail in your receipts in prepaid envelopes and they do the rest. Monthly subscription.
Do you use any of these to write your monthly budget? Or something else? How has it worked for you?