When it comes to budgeting your money, one of the key first steps is using the right tools. For many that may be nothing more than a pad of paper and pencil, or an Excel spreadsheet. I’ve used Excel spreadsheets for years, and you can find some really helpful (and free) Excel budget templates online, which we list on our budget tool page. But I also use personal finance software to manage our money.
With personal budget software, you get a lot more features. Through a program like Quicken, for example, you can track all your income and expenses, set goals, and track investments. Quicken is just one of many options, however. So we put together this list of personal finance software options. We’ve divided the list between software packages that run on your computer, and online options where your financial data is kept on the provider’s servers. If we’ve missed any programs you think should be added to the list, please leave a comment. Also, please let us know which options you think are best.
Personal Finance Software Options
You Need a Budget: “Simple Budget Software Coupled with a Powerful Money Management Methodology.”
YNAB is one of our favorites and a program I’ve used for a long time. Not only is it easy to use, but it comes with video tutorials and a YNAB University that helps you harness the power of YNAB to actually improve your financial picture. You can download a free 34-day trial copy here.
Quicken: “Gives you money management and budgeting tools to help you watch your spending and increase your savings.”
Arguably the best know personal finance program available, Quicken is a feature-rich software solution that can handle every aspect of your finances. The PC version is, unfortunately, much better than the Mac version. So if you have a Mac, make sure you understand the limitations of what Intuit calls Quicken Essentials for Mac. You can check out the different versions of Quicken here.
AceMoney: “AceMoney helps to organize and manage personal finances quickly and easily. It supports all the features required for home or even small-business accounting needs:”
MoneyDance: Moneydance 2010 has many powerful features to help you keep your finances organized, safe, and up-to-date. Learn more about Moneydance’s features below or view screenshots to the right:
MoneyDance offers the features you would expect, such as online banking and bill payment, budgeting, scheduling recurring transactions, tracking your portfolio, and generating reports and graphs. One of the best features is its ability to run on nearly any operating system, allowing you to transfer your financial data anywhere you want.
Online Budgeting Software Options
Mint: “Mint makes it easy to build a budget — and stick to it. Our free budgeting software puts all of your personal finances, including your bank accounts, credit cards and investments all in one place. Just enter your information and Mint automatically creates personal budgets for you.”
Mint.com is arguably the most popular online option among personal finance tools. It was purchased by Intuit some time ago, and allows you to bring all of your financial information into one place online. I’ve used the tool off and on over the past few years, and generally like what it has to offer. Plus it’s free. It’s very easy to use and the charts and reports look great.
Budget Pulse: “BudgetPulse personal finance software is the perfect solution for managing your finances. You can organize your cash flow, expenses and bank accounts in one place. And easy to understand charts and graphs enable you to visualize how you’re spending your money month-to-month. This enables you to track your progress, discover where you can make savings and improve how you manage your money. BudgetPulse also makes it easier for you to achieve larger financial goals. You can create goals and then share with friends and family. They can then track your progress and make donations, using PayPal or Amazon, to help you reach them. Personal fundraising has never been easier.”
BudgetTracker: “BudgetTracker, Inc. was founded in 2003. We provide a way to track your budget easily from any internet connection or any cellular phone, so that you can enter in your transactions as they happen. Our first goal was to provide a complete, easy, and customizable budgeting solution. After several e-mails of suggestions to be added to the site, BudgetTracker has grown into much more than just a Budgeting Tool. You can save your Bills, Income, Transactions, Budget, and tie all these together in a Calendar that can either send reminders to your email address or your cellular phone. The best part of our site is that all of these ideas came from you!”
Buxfer: “Buxfer automatically downloads and categorizes expenses from your checking, savings and credit card accounts. Get spending insights and monitor activity on all your accounts at a single place.”
Buxfer is an easy to use budgeting solution. One of its unique features is that you don’t have to store your bank login information in Buxfer’s servers. Instead, that information resides on your computer through a Firefox plugin and Buxfer then uses that information to download transactions from your bank.
Clear Checkbook: “ClearCheckbook.com is an extremely easy way to balance your checkbook online, track your spending, set a budget, manage your money and more. As an online checkbook, you enter your receipts into the site and assign each transaction to an account and category. You can go back through the online checkbook register and mark transactions as “Jived” (our word for cleared/balanced/etc). This way you will always know what transactions have been cleared with the bank and how much money you have. We also use the account/categories you assign a transaction to generate reports and use them for your budgets.”
Money Strands (formerly Expensr): “Don’t waste your precious time monitoring multiple bank sites and maintaining painful spreadsheets anymore. We know you have better things to do with your time. moneyStrands automatically pulls together data from your checking, savings, credit card and loan accounts to provide an accurate, up-to-date picture of your financial life broken down by meaningful automatically identified categories along with flexible user defined transaction types. Best of all, moneyStrands is 100% FREE.”
Yodlee: Yodlee is not primarily a personal finance software company. In fact, most of its customers are large financial institutions, and Yodlee helpls secure online transaction processing. But it has developed the Yodlee MoneyCenter that helps consumers budget their finances. It’s an online solution that focus primarily on budgeting and bill pay, as opposed to tracking investments:
If you know of other personal finance programs we should add to the list, please leave a comment below.
Published or updated October 28, 2012.