Taking charge of your budget makes you feel more in control not only of your spending but of your life. Perhaps you’ve always used a budget, or late spouse did, but more likely you’ve not. Most Americans don’t, which explains why most adults have more debt than retirement savings. But you don’t have to be like most Americans. Check out these great tools to simplify the task of budgeting and begin to take control of your financial future.
Enter your bank and financial accounts (credit cards, home loans, investment accounts, etc.) into this free secure online tool and Mint.com automatically organizes and updates the information and categorizes your expenses. The free basic service will create a budget for you based on your spending history. Then you can set up and track budgeting goals, such as saving money and paying off credit card debt. Mint will recommend ways to reduce expenses, and it can send you automatic alerts when it’s time to pay bills, when you go over budget, when interest rates change, etc. Mint.com is available for mobile devices as well.
If you’d like a tool that allows for more budget customization than Mint does, PocketSmith may be a good choice. It allows you to create a weekly or biweekly budget, rather than just monthly. It can take in your financial information both directly from your financial accounts and manually. And it can use current information to predict your finances. The basic service is free. For a nominal monthly fee you get live bank feeds, more calendars, more accounts, and up to 10 years’ worth of financial projections.
This free online budgeting tool is aimed particularly at young people getting a financial start in life. It provides many of the features of Mint.com and shows useful graphic representations of income, expenses, spending, and forecasts. Buxfer doesn’t directly access your bank accounts, so you don’t have to give it your bank website passwords; instead, you export the transactions from your bank website and then upload them into Buxfer.
Like Buxfer, BudgetPulse does not link to your bank accounts. It provides budgeting, money management, net worth calculations, and graphs and charts for easy understanding.
This free online budget tool (budgetsimple.com) is focused on helping people get out of debt. It helps you create an online budget, save money, and understand your finances better. The free version does budgeting and reporting. For a nominal monthly fee, BudgetSimple Plus adds a mobile app and links to your bank accounts.
BudgetTracker is a free budgeting tool that works with or without links to your bank accounts. Create a budget and track your bank and investment accounts (and even PayPal) all on one screen. Track your expenses and your income and view reports. Link transactions such as monthly bills to your calendar to receive reminders by email or text message.
If you have complex finances with numerous investment accounts (401k, IRA, Roth IRA) you’ll want a higher-end online finance app like Personal Capital. This more complex tool is not primarily for budgeting, but for tracking investments.
GoodBudget is a free budgeting app and online resource that focuses on planning your finances instead of tracking previous transactions. The app uses the envelope budgeting system which allows you to separate your monthly income into specific categories called envelopes. Just like BudgetPulse, GoodBudget does not connect to your bank accounts. Instead, you manually enter in your accounts and balances. You then assign your money towards envelops to help budget your income. The free version of the app allows you to access your profile on two devices and enter a limited number of envelops however you may purchase a paid version of GoodBudget that allows you to access your profile on five devices and set up unlimited envelopes.
With today’s free online budgeting tools there’s no need to keep paper records or struggle with spreadsheets. So, you have less excuse than ever to put off creating a budget and sticking to it. Use one of these tools to gain the financial benefits and peace of mind that come with taking control of your spending.