Jan 14 2008

A few budgeting tools to consider

If you’re participating in Better Budget Challenge # 2, then perhaps you’d like to see a run-down of a few budgeting tools.

Lynnae at Being Frugal recently did some in-depth reviews on some programs. I really enjoy her blog, and I hope she won’t mind that I’m linking back to a bunch of her reviews.

If you’ve recently reviewed a budgeting software tool, let me know and I might update my list to include you.

Here’s just a few options available:

Kacie’s pick:


Mint is simple to set up and easy to use. You add your bank and credit account information, and then with each transaction, the Mint software categorizes your purchases. You may have to adjust these categories, but it’s easy to do.

Some cool features:

  • The software is free
  • It might help you save money, by suggesting you switch banks, credit cards, and how to improve on monthly bills

Overall, Mint is an excellent tool for tracking your spending. If you have multiple accounts (such as a bank for checking, an account with ING, Paypal, and credit cards) it’s a great way for you to see the balances of all of your accounts at once.

Mint doesn’t appear to have long-term budgeting capabilities (such as planning for retirement, etc.). It seems to be best suited for money-tracking.

Of all the budgeting programs I’ve ever tried (just a small number), this is the easiest and most useful one I’ve used.

Visit Lynnae’s review on Mint.

Kacie’s husband’s pick:


Yodlee is free, internet-based, and comprehensive. It has detailed reports for short-term budgeting and expense reviews, but does not offer long-range goal setting, etc. found in Microsoft Money.

The short-term budgeting reports are still complete enough to be informative.

The interface looks really “finance-y”, know what I mean? It’s almost intimidating for a gal like me. I haven’t explored all of its features yet, though.

My husband really likes it and he’s going to show me how to use it–that’s all I can say about it right now.

Other free programs:


Wesabe uses social networking to help you learn from others. You’ll find message boards that you can review to learn tips and tricks about how other people are saving money.

The tips are worth a look, but there aren’t enough features for budgeting or other financial analysis, in my opinion. As a budgeting tool, it isn’t the easiest to use.

Click the link to see Lynnae’s review on Wesabe.

Programs you’ll have to pay for:

MICROSOFT MONEYmicrosoft-money.png

Microsoft Money offers several levels of financial programs:

Money Essentials (Free 60-day trial, then $19.99)

Money Plus Deluxe (Free 60-day trial, then $49.99)

Money Plus Home & Business (Free 60-day trial, then $59.99)

Some purchases might qualify for a mail-in rebate, so be sure to investigate that if you decide to go with Microsoft.

Look at Microsoft’s comparison chart to see if one of these programs might be right for you.

We tried Microsoft Money 2007 Deluxe for a short time.

It offers tons of financial features, including the tools needed to track your short-term spending and also make long-term projections.

There seems to be a high learning curve with this program. Too high for me.

If you want advanced tools to help you plan for retirement, get out of debt, etc. then this program might be the one for you.

You’ll be able to track your expenses and create all sorts of charts and graphs to see how you’re spending.

If you just need simple features, then try somewhere else. For me, it was just too complicated to use.


Mvelopes offers a free 30-day trial, and then after that, you’ll have to pay.

I haven’t tried Mvelopes, but from looking at the site, you’ll be able to set up a budget, track expenses, and possibly reduce your spending.

Visit Lynnae’s review on Mvelopes. She provides an extensive run-down of the program.


Pear Budget is still in beta. It’s free for the time it’s in beta, and then they’ll charge $20 or so for the year.

This software encourages you to input arbitrary amounts, so I really can’t recommend you use it. It says you can change the amounts in the future, of course.

From what I can tell, you choose categories, then manually type in your receipts and categorize them. No linking to any bank accounts or anything. Ugh. Sounds tedious.

If you use a cash-only budget system, this software might be good for you to use, since you’ll have to enter your receipts somewhere. Still, I’m unimpressed. Does anyone out there like it?


I’ve never tried Quicken so I don’t know what to say about it other than it’s an option.
You’ll get a 30-day free trial, then can use their online program for $2.99/month. Or, you can download one of their many versions.


YNAB, or You Need a Budget, seems like it was created with Dave Ramsey’s philosophies in mind. I don’t know if he endorses it (or if the people that created it follow Ramsey), but YNAB encourages you to get out of debt, create an emergency “cushion,” and live on less than you earn.

This is not a web-based program. Instead, you’ll download the software to your computer.

It doesn’t link to your bank accounts, but if you primarily use cash, that’s fine and dandy.

It costs $19.99, and $39.95 for the pro version (dunno what that is). Oh, and you can’t pay cash for it–credit cards only, lol. I guess credit cards are still needed in a cash budget.

Visit Lynnae’s review on Y-NAB.

Have you reviewed a financial program? Let us know! Plan to start using a budget? Then tell us about it by participating in the second Better Budget Challenge!

8 Responses to “A few budgeting tools to consider”

  1. I also use Mvelopes. I think that it is great and have talked about it a few times in my blog if anyone is interested in reading about it.

  2. This is a great list! And I don’t mind the linkbacks at all. I would love it if everyone could find some kind of budgeting tool to meet their needs!

  3. I use PearBudget. Although I haven’t tried the new version. But I assume the old one is even more primitive.

    You’re unnecessarily biased against the whole fixed amount idea. It’s good to have goals. We make a certain amount of money each month and to live within our means, one has to work with what they have. ;)

    And yes, I make adjustments in PearBudget every month based on my current spending priorities.

    Basically, it is just a spreadsheet system, and I use my debit receipts to enter. I don;t want something downloading my transactions. I want to be intimately involved in entering and classifying and remembering what exactly I spent where. Takes a little longer but keeps me more aware.

  4. I’ve tried Money, Quicken, MyKMoney, GNUCash, and Mvelopes — but it turns out that the best thing for me has ended up being a few envelopes and a spreadsheet that I downloaded.

    Here’s the system I use: http://www.catholiccomments.com/2008/03/why-i-love-money-even-more-in-envelopes.html

    It has done miracles for my wife and me in a short time.

  5. I prefer Microsoft Money, personally. I think these budgetting tools are the best way to keep track of all your spending and help you get the most out of your money.

    SimonD’s last blog post..Moneyexpert – EDF Energy prices rise again

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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