Whether you are trying to get expenditures under control or looking to start saving, it’s very important to set up a formal household budget. Budgeting provides an easy way to save money because you’ll find out where you are overspending and then can develop ways to cut back. When creating a budget, the most important thing is to find a budgeting system that works right for you and your family. Fortunately, there are a lot of free or inexpensive budgeting tools available today that allow you to keep track your budget with ease. Here are a few of our favorites.
Though you can use the old paper ledger method, it’s much easier to use a computer program to create your budget and monitor your expenses. Mint.com is free, easy to use, and perfect for your family budget. You simply enter your bank account information, along with info about your credit cards, home loans and investment accounts. Mint automatically pulls in all your balances, expenditures, deposits, etc. to eliminate data entry on your part. Everything is categorized for you and since the info is taken automatically from your accounts, you know that it will always be accurate. Over 7 million people use Mint, and it’s very safe and secure. This isn’t an online banking program — you can’t pay bills or transfer money with Mint.
You Need a Budget (YNAB)
At YouNeedABudget.com, you can find one of the most popular personal finance software programs. YNAB allows you import banking transactions that you download yourself (they don’t connect to your bank), customize categories, record notes, create multiple reports and a whole lot more. This software will cost you $60, but you can try it out with a full-featured 34-day free trial. They also have mobile apps to allow you to stay on top of your budget on the go, plus free, live classes to assist you.
dsBudget is an free, open source budgeting program that runs on your PC and supports multiple platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac, etc.) It’s very customizable and a great way to see how you are spending your money each month. Since you have to enter your expenses yourself, it’s not as simple as Mint, but it’s still a very good budgeting program if you aren’t comfortable linking your bank accounts to a budgeting program.
AceMoney is another personal finance software to consider. It allows you to manage multiple accounts, create and manage budgets, track spending habits, record expenses, transfer among accounts and even do online banking. The full version is priced at $39.99 and gets plenty of positive reviews from users. They also offer a free version — AceMoney Lite — that is perfect if you just have one or two account, such as one checking account and one credit card.
What do you use to maintain your household budget? We’d love to hear your feedback on these programs or any others that you have used. Personally, our family uses Mint. It meets all of our needs, plus you can’t beat the price tag — free!