Budget Tools and Software Budgeting Software

Budgeting Software

There are many excellent software programs and this only a partial list of what’s available.  If you are using software that is not listed and like it, stick with it.  I also welcome your recommendations or comments.  Some software is free, while others have fees associated with them.  Every company needs revenue sources, which come from fees, advertising, referrals or selling your information. 

These programs are rated on their ability to help you budget.  Ease of use and/or cost are important factors to consider that may prevent you from regularly doing a budget. Two programs (YNAB and EveryDollar Plus) charge modest fees but they include features that make the budget process easier. When the cost of your time is taken into consideration, these are good alternatives.  Mint offers a lot of features at no cost, but it is more difficult to use and requires more time for the budgeting process. 

In general, here are things to consider:

  • •   Simple to install and use.
  • •   Clear instructions/tutorials/support: good tutorials or instructions that provide help getting started or when you get stuck.
  • •   Free or low cost. It may not cost any money, but free software has advertisements that may become annoying and sometimes can get in the way of your work. 
  • •   Features such as links to your bank and credit card accounts. This can be a time saver in both paying bills and categorizing your expenses. The ability to do reports can make it easier to analyze your spending. 

Disclaimer:  much of this information comes from reading online reviews of these programs. Links to the online reviews are provided at the end of this document.

EveryDollar (https://www.everydollar.com/):  this is a free online budgeting tool that is easy to use and has many useful features.  The website offers help on using the software and there are blogs that cover common budget problems.  It only takes minutes to create your first budget (this is really true) and you can easily add more detail.  E-mail support is available to answer your specific questions.  EveryDollar was created by Ramsey Solutions and it supports his 7 baby steps philosophy to budgeting. It does not have a feature that links to your bank or credit cards. 

EveryDollar Plus: this is an upgraded version of EveryDollar and costs $99 a year.  It can link to your bank/credit card accounts and offers phone support.  There are some credit cards that don’t link to EveryDollar Plus, which AMEX is the biggest.  If EveryDollar Plus cannot link to a credit card you use frequently, the upgrade is not is not worth the cost.  Check if EveryDollar will link to your accounts before upgrading.  You can use it for 5 days free. 

You Need a Budget (YNAB) (https://www.youneedabudget.com/):  this software comes with a lot of features for only $50 a year.  You can use it for 34 days free to see if it works for you before purchasing.  It offers many features at a reasonable price.  Support is provided through blogs, weekly podcasts and a video series to help you take control of your money. Their goal is to provide more than just tech support, they want to help you change your relationship with money. They also provide online classes every day of the week. 

Here’s a personal testimony from someone who read these reviews:

What I would add about YNAB that the review on your web site doesn’t refer to specifically is:

  • •   YNAB presents two concepts that I haven’t seen elsewhere or implemented as well as YNAB does. These are:
  1. Give a job to every dollar you receive, as soon as you receive it
  2. Budgeting is a dynamic process.  If you overspend somewhere, you must adjust your budget immediately to cover that overspend from some other category or your budget is no longer reliable
  • •   The live training sessions offered on the web several times a day are conducted by enthusiastic and entertaining presenters that do a good job of making budgeting fun.  The app itself is also amusing in a positive way.  I like the vibe that the publisher creates around the experience of learning how and using their tool. 
  • •   I personally like to pay my $50 a year for YNAB and be subjected to no advertising or other pitches as I experienced with Mint.  I like feeling like the publisher’s only incentive to develop and maintain a great budgeting product is to continue earning my trust and keeping my business year after year
  • •   Goal-setting is smoothly integrated into YNAB, so that the budget constantly prompts you to budget enough to achieve the goals you have set
  • •   YNAB just released an updated version of its iOS (and I believe Android) app that is full-featured, meaning that you can do everything on the mobile device that you can do on their web browser based YNAB.com web site. In the past, downloading transactions from financial institutions and reconciling was done only on the web browser.  The app supported manually entering transactions and making changes to the budget

Mint (https://www.mint.com/).  This is free software that includes the feature of linking to your bank and credit card accounts.  However, it is more difficult to use.  If you are a person who struggles keeping a budget, ease of use is critical.  But, if you currently keep a budget and want to use an online program, Mint is a good option.  Mint is more difficult to set up initially and manual entries take more time and you’ll find yourself clicking around much more than other programs.  However, it has an automatic feature that is not available in the other free program.  Mint’s has a reporting feature that neither YNAB nor EveryDollar Plus has.  The reports let you know what you things like what spent on a particular item, a few clicks and you have a report.  Want your spending displayed in a pie chart, Mint can do it easily.  Customer service is available by email.

Comparing the other free programs, EveryDollar is easier to use but Mint can automatically link to your accounts.  Compared to programs that link to your accounts, both EveryDollar Plus and YNAB are easier to use but require a modest fee.  YNAB is an excellent program and the cost is very reasonable.  If you chose YNAB, take some time up front to learn the software thoroughly. 

These are three excellent programs.  EveryDollar gets the best ratings in these areas because it is free and easier to use than Mint.   YNAB supports a community committed to their philosophy with web classes and general financial advice through videos and blogs.  Their software takes some practice, and it offers a lot for the price.  Mint has the most features for the money (free), but their ads can be annoying.  It is more time consuming to set up and enter expenses that can’t be automated.  When you take into account the cost of your time, the fee based programs look more attractive. 

Please explore other opinions; here are some links to reviews of these programs.