10 Online Budget Tools

10 Online Budget ToolsThere are a lot of free online budget tools available to help you manage your money. As you know from previous posts, spending less than you make is the most important habit to develop if you’re seeking some degree of financial freedom. Along with good advice from readers and other bloggers, I’ve assembled a growing list of painless money-saving tips, and I’ve described my simple approach to budgeting. In this post, I’ll take a look at some free online tools you can use to help gain control of your money. So let’s get to it.

Online Budget Tools

Personal Capital is the online tool I use to track everything from budgets to credit cards to investments. I recommend this tool if you have 401(k), IRA or other investments to track. It has a great looking interface, it’s easy to link your accounts, and it gives you some great insight into how you spend your money and how your investments are performing. If you don’t have investments to track, however, I’d recommend Mint, which is discussed next.

Here are some other online options to consider:

Buxfer: “Our goal is to create the best personal finance application on the web. Money is typically not the topic of discussion for a group of twenty-somethings wanting to have fun with their lives. But that’s only because today’s finance applications make it difficult and boring. That’s what we have set about to change! We want people to effortlessly understand their finances. And have fun while doing so.”

BudgetTracker: “We allow you to track your Budget, Bills, Transactions and tie all these together in an easy to read Calendar that can send you reminders when Bills are due. You can also view most of the data stored on this site with your Cellular Phone so you can take all your data with you where ever you may be.”

BudgetPulse: “BudgetPulse is built on principles of simplicity, user friendliness and comprehensiveness. As the application is easy to use, it is especially useful for people to manage and monitor their financial condition. For security reasons, we do not and have no intention to link direct to users’ banking account data.”

Expensr: “See how much of your money goes to Food or Gas. Then compare your spending with similar people so you know where to improve. Create budgets to stay on track and use our forecasting tools to avoid any financial surprises. It’s all free, easy-to-use, and takes only a couple of minutes a day.”

PearBudget: “PearBudget is a FREE budgeting program, written in Excel. It can be used by almost any spreadsheet program (Excel, Word, OpenOffice, etc.). Setting it up is a snap, and you can input your data during the commercial breaks of a single episode of your favorite show. (And did we mention? It’s free!)”

Billster: “A totally free online application developed to organise your personal and shared expenses.”

Mint is quickly becoming one of my favorite online tools. If you’ve not heard of it, Mint is a free online money management tool. Once you sign up, Mint allows you to link your checking, savings and credit card accounts to your Mint account. Once linked, all of your transactions are automatically incorporated into your Mint account. To do this, you do have to provide Mint with the username and password you use to access your various accounts. This has been a cause of concern for some, although it’s not stopped me from using Mint. Mint uses Yodlee to manage the security of this information, which is the same company used by Fidelity and Bank of America.

What I like about Mint is that the transactions are downloaded automatically and categories are assigned to most transactions by Mint. This does take some adjustments at first, but over time, much of the work is done by Mint, not be me. With the information downloaded to Mint, I can then focus on my spending for whatever expense categories I like. Here is what the budget section of my Mint screen looks like today:

This shows me how much I’ve spent as compared to the average amount I spend (as calculated by Mint based on an analysis of my spending patterns) each month. Based on the day of the month, Mint determines if I’m on my way to spending more or less than I should. In just a few seconds, I can check the status of the spending categories I’ve chosen to keep an eye on.

Free Excel Budget Templates

If you prefer spreadsheets over online software, there are several free budget templates available from Microsoft. If you run on a Mac as I do, your options are more limited.

Windows Excel Templates: Here you’ll find more than 30 free budget templates available to download. The templates include personal budgets, even budgeting, and even a wedding budget template.

Mactopia: For the Mac, Microsoft offers Mactopia, where you can search for templates by product. Microsoft offers just 35 templates in total, a few of which are for budgets. The selection is not as large, but there are some viable options.

If you know of a great online tool or Excel template, please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.

Topics: Tools & Resources
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80 Responses to “10 Online Budget Tools”

  1. After a lot a time and effort entering months of data into BudgetPulse the site crashed, as of 14 hours ago. Hopefully it’s just a temporary glitch and will be back up soon. I would hate to start over again with a different site.

  2. John Munroe

    My cell phone has been ringing off the hook since I started a Personal Capital account earlier this week. My “account manager” calls at least four times per day trying to get hold of me. With that, I’m getting calls from five or six other companies as well, all within a day of signing up with Personal Capital.

    It might be a very good service/budgeting & net-worth tool, but I would advise folks to either leave your phone number out of the application (if allowed to do so), or come up with some other way to keep these sales folks and financial account managers out of your life.

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  4. Elizabeth

    Neobudget.com is also an easy one to use. You don’t have to give them your account info – simply download a file from your bank website and then upload it into NeoBudget to import in all the transactions! We love it.

  5. Keeping expenses under control is very important. And to do that it is mandatory to maintain a monthly budget. I am doing this for a few years already and I say that it pays off. I started first with an excel sheet, later I realize there are free online tools which helps you to do that. I am using http://www.planthebudget.com

  6. I’ve tried Mint. A total waste of time. I’d set up budgets and coded transactions and then the Mint’s connection to download the data had issues with Chase . . . several times. There is no way to reconcile, something that is critically important to check for fraudulent transactions. Moreover, Intuit is taking a decidedly anti-consumer stance. My wish is that Intuit would make Mint a serious online personal finance app along the lines of Quickbooks. However, Intuit’s Mint remains a half-baked personal finance solution aimed at pushing products at me I do not need. Worse, Intuit dumbed down the Mac version of Quicken and made it so you can get your data in, but can’t easily get it out. To promote Intuit in the face of that seems uninformed.

  7. I’ve tried Mint. A total waste of time. I’d set up budgets and coded transactions and then the connection to download the data had issues with Chase . . . several times. There is no way to reconcile. Moreover, Intuit iis not taking the high road these days. It is taking a decidedly anti-consumer stance. They have not made Mint a serious online personal finance app (along the lines of Quickbooks) and they’ve dumbed down the Mac version of Quicken and made it so you can get your data in but can’t easily get it out. To promote Intuit in the face of that seems uninformed.

  8. I don’t care for Mint either. I just learned my credit union offers something similar and they already have my account into. Providing the bank account info to Mint really bothered me as well. I’m thinking I will delete my account also.

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  10. Yaw Boakye - Yiadom

    Another very good personal finance software is Boachsoft Finance. It is superb One unique feature is the Forecast center. This would allow you to accurately predict the future of your finances. It scans your previous transactions for patterns. It also uses your budget data and scheduled transactions in creating the forecast. You can actually create what if scenarios.

  11. Steve,
    Thanks for the tip. My wife trialed that application and it truly is a simple matter of recording the bank transactions like it does.
    We have since changed banks and the application interfaces to that bank too, so we are happy.
    Thanks again Steve.

  12. I’m using inexfinance which is a relatively new personal finance planning and budgeting software. I like it because it’s a web-based program, so I can record my transactions whenever I want at home, at work or using my iPhone (their mobile version is really fast which is another plus for me). The budgeting tools are easy-to-use and they offer different notification options to alert me when I go over my budget limits. Currently they don’t support bank account sync, which I found a little bit frustrating at the beginning. But then I got used to their import feature that actually does the same job. All in all, I am satisfied with the program which by the way is absolutely free.

  13. Steve, THANKS for the tip on your tool. We got the trial and decided to buy the application. $15 for all that it is doing for us, WOW.
    If only gas and food were that affordable. Laters

  14. I tried Mint out last year, and like others here have said, it was very buggy. i decided to try it out again this month, and so far it has been great with zero errors! i think they fixed something with it, because now it performs 100x better.

    only problem i am having with it is updating 2 different login accounts from the same website at the same time. after it is done updating, i just click the Fix It! button and it refreshes the account with the error.

  15. Steve

    Tony, Banks pay for hacking in to their sites and any fallout from that.
    I read that a Mint ex-employee obtained ID and password (your bank account password!) started to extract various account funds with small withdrawls. Banks did not refund as the issue was “giving out your bank account password” to Mint applications was not their fault.
    Anyhow, my wife uses an application called Bank2Budget.com and it stops any unknown withdrawl described above. Never give out your online bank account password and get a application that stops fraud is my advice to all.


    I sure appreciate all of the info on your website for budget planning. If I am understanding the opening of your article, you seem to not like QUICKEN. I thought you might want to know, however, that MINT is the FREE VERSION OF QUICKEN.

    Again, thank you for all the usefull info & website. I sure do appreciate it!


  17. I like ManageYourExpenses.com . It is very simple to use and it is FREE!. It has good features like budgeting, bill reminders and also feature for sharing expensese between roommates/friends.

  18. I would not worry too much about putting financial info online if it is a reputable company. Face it, all the stuff is online anyway.

    While you obviously need to be careful, keep in mind that the bank has to pay for security breaches.

  19. Steve

    My wife (computer expert) warned me from giving out our bank account id and password to anyone. She heard that a former Mint.com employee was caught with customer id’s and passwords that she downloaded from their servers. One customer had funds stolen from their account!
    I appreciate your help so much though. I am still looking.

    • Dear Steve, I was just telling Jackie up here about Out Of The Dark free budgeting web app, it also happens to be one of the few fully functional online budgeting services that let’s you do your budgeting online without any security risk because it does not require you to give out your bank account access or even your personal ID, it allows you to do your personal budgeting online in total anonymity, so you give nothing and risk nothing. To check it out just google OOTD budgeting.

  20. 3D Budget has recently been improved with an easier to use Reconciliation functionality. 3D Budget has the unique capability to tell you what expenses you have forgotten to enter into your budget.

  21. I was looking for CalendarBudget in your list.
    I find a calendar is the easiest way to track my spending to work with how I do my shopping and track it in my mind… “I went to the grocery store on Monday for milk… etc.”
    Plus future planning is important to me so I can plan ahead and not have to react to put out fires of going to low in my bank account or having to use credit.
    The envelope type planning is effective to avoid going over budget on different categories like your Food expenses or Gift giving which I do with my monthly budgets for my different categories.
    Thanks for the list. I like knowing what’s out there to help individuals manage their finances better.

  22. Does anyone know of any free online budgeting website for teens and young adults? I have my first full time job and by monday my account is at ZERO, I guess I have a serious spending habit.. any tips or suggestions?

  23. Yael Diamond

    Better late than never – just found this post – thanks for the valuable information. I never realized the availability of tools out there. Been doing my budget on an Excel spreadsheet for years. Thanks again

  24. Although this post on Free Online Financial Resources is a few years old, it was really helpful for me. I teach a Finance, Budget and Credit Repair workshop, and although I absolutly love and recommend mint.com, I wanted to share other options with my audiences.

    This post absolutely helped me do that….
    Thanks! Patrice
    Author : 6 Simple Steps to Credit Repair (available on Amazon.com)

  25. Mark Hardley

    For the UK readers amongst us, you should consider kublax – its a Mint.com style budgeting site that works with UK banks / credit cards etc.

    Still a newcomer to the industry, but worth a look none the less. Wesabe is awesome also, my cousin uses this religously!!


  26. matt @ Thrive

    @Alex: Thanks for the mention and glad you are liking Thrive! We’re always working hard to do better for our users, so if there is more you think we can do or places where we can improve, let us know. As you say, we have our bugs…the quicker you help us find them, the quicker we can squash them.

    @KBP: While Mint does pay for positive blog coverage, I don’t believe there is a public list of who they are paying and who they aren’t so you might think about giving DR the benefit of the doubt, especially since he took the time to address your concerns.

    More importantly, I’d suggest the following: whether or not Mint pays for a positive review, it is not a positive review that should make up your mind about whether a site is right for you. Thrive receives from many bloggers, and we have a policy of never paying for any coverage, in the press or in blogs, simply because we don’t want to endorse that sort of system. There are many solutions (justthrive, wesabe, mint, etc.) and none of them is perfect…here at Thrive, we’re the first to admit that.

    People need to be responsible for finding not the “best site”, but the site that is best for them. That’s the definition to use. I’m the Lead Scientist at Thrive and the metric we use for success is whether we actually help people become financially healthier. Do they spend less. Do they save more. Does their credit score go up. That sort of thing. Find the site that helps you increase your positive behaviors, and use it as often as it helps you.

  27. Alex Benke @ MoneyMerc

    I currently use Mint and was annoyed at the beginning with all the bugs, categorization issues, etc. It has since gotten much better, so it’s worth another try if you didn’t like it before.

    Also worth trying is justthrive, a Mint competitor, but they focus more on how your information is USED to help you deal with money, rather than just some fairly lame pie charts. Set up savings plans, get your financial health score, etc. It’s newer than Mint (Launched in Nov08) so it’s still adding features and sometimes had bugs, but I really like it so far.

  28. I really like the MINT website ! But I’m in Canada and it does sync with any banks in here….. Anybody knows a online budget tool linked to Canadian financial institutions ?

    Thanks !

  29. I like budgettoolkit. Simple yet supports electronic banking (no bank account number required, you just upload your electronic banking in .csv format). 90 days free then very cheap thereafter. The free sites make me a little nervous. Always have to remember the “if it sounds too good to be true” phrase. 🙂

  30. Megdelana

    It seems to me that most of these websites are geared towards people who are making more money than me. My monthly income is $1500 and I really need a good budgeting tool. I pay only for the basics like rent, electricity, food and transportation. Is there a simple budget tool for me?

    • Megdelana, my suggestion would be to create a simple Excel spreadsheet. That’s what I use and it works great. The link to Excel spreadsheet templates in the article will take you to some functional templates to get you started.

      • I agree I dont make much money per month and need something simple. So I will check out the Excel templates. It just seems scary to give all of your info to a comany online. How great is the danger? Everyone says not to put that stuff online.

    • Ashley and Megdelana, if you have not yet tried Out Of The Dark (ootd) budgeting, you may want to check this little free and totally anonymous online budgeting website which does not require any personal information or access to your bank accounts. It’s as simple as Excel but way better being online and available to you anywhere you are in the world where internet in available.

        • Rebekah, I am not sure about the kind of non budgeting “Out Of The Dark” website that you are referring to, there are probably more then one reference to OOTD on the web, the one I was referring to is OOTD Out Of The Dark online free budgeting which offers some amazing features not found with other tools like anonymous usage, cash put-aside management, and credit card debt terminator. The site can be easily found via googling OOTD budgeting “out of the dark”.

    • Charmaine

      budgetsimple.com is a very simple budget tool. It is a great website if you basically want to just track your spending and keeping to a budget. I’m like you, where I don’t make a lot of money, however I needed something that will show me how to pay down my debt. Mint was great but, the one credit card I am really focused on paying off, is not on there. I wish there was a way to manually put in a credit card including putting in the APR so I can set it as a goal.

  31. I recently launched a site to accommodate my families personal budget needs. Thought it was a good enough idea that I would invest in hosting. We are adding new features every few days as we get good feedback. All registrations are anonymous and the 30-day trial is fully functional. I’d be interested in getting more people to test the site, and appreciate your feedback.

  32. @Alison, currently, the method to track cash in Mint is to go into a cash withdrawal, then split the transaction… then you can have the cash withdrawal divided up into how you spent it…

  33. Harei Edom

    There is a new online free web utility for personal budgeting that offers the simplicity and anonymity that no other online service currently has. Readers of this article would like to know about “Out Of The Dark”. I have used it for 2 month now and it’s a dream solution for online personal budgeting, almost too good to be free.

  34. nathan

    Wondering when online banking would evolve – I thought: “Wouldn’t it be nice if banks just added folders and rules to their online apps”
    For instance – I get the same amount of cash each month for my paycheck. If I could set up “folders” which are not necessarily seperate accounts, just dividers if you will, and then set up a rule to put x amount in folder 1, y in folder 2, etc. That way can manage money and make contributions to the “new car fund” and still not actually remove the money from my account, just in case I screw things up (frequent). At any time I could empty a folder back into the main account or transfer it’s contents to a new account. Like virtual savings. I could put 100 in the “eat out” folder. Now I can check my account online and apply a transaction to a folder which would deduct from it…
    any thoughts?

    • I would suggest finding a bank that will allow you to link either your checking accounts or different savings account as an “overdraft protection”. Most banks will let you open as many accounts as you like- and at Chase you can even name them online whatever you want- so in a sense you can have your “seperate folders”. I’ve just recently regained employment (the hospital I worked at had a massive layoff) and am starting to use an idea I picked up while trying to find a new job- Keep one account purely for bill paying. set up an automatic deduction on the days you get paid to set a certain amount (whether it’s $50.00 or 5% of your pay) to go into a savings account, and then if you have your “play money” folder/account you can set up an automatic deduction out of your paycheck into this account, this keeps you from overdrawing (because the accounts are linked to draw off of one another in case of a mishap) but also allows you to only view how much money you have to spend on “eating out” that week. Hope this helps!

    • This is exactly what I do with mvelopes online; it is my favorite distinctive of it as compared to spend-tracking software. mvelopes does both spend-tracking and save-tracking (my terms).

  35. Oh, jeez, I cut off the top of my post. Doh! The first line should have been the following:

    “I have had great experiences with mint. My only issue is that I can’t add manual transactions.”

    • Allison, serious. You can get the budget tool on Mint to work? The Mint support blogs are full of pissed off users that can’t get it to work. I can’t get it to work. What’s your secret? I love everything about the site accept aside from the fact that there is a bug behind EVERY click.

  36. transactions. I’ve recently started using the envelope system and am paying for gas and groceries with cash. Looking at mint, I appear to be way under budget for grocery purchases but I know that I’ve spent an additional $XX since the last time I used my debit card. Looking at their boards, they are not planning on changing that any time soon.

    So, I’m making notes on the other nine mentioned in your post, looking at pros and cons to see if I can find the product that bridges the gap between what I have with mint and what I need to successfully budget and track my spending.

    I really appreciate this post.

  37. I tried Mint and HATED it. It showed multiple transactions for the same merchant and so I always thought I had much less money than I thought and I was freaking out because I thought I was bouncing checks. Closed my account today as a matter of fact. If you go on their boards you will see that they have TONS of bugs and it seems to take them forever to fix them.
    How much are they paying you to endorse their product?

    • KBP, interesting that you conclude somebody must be paying me to endorse a product simply because you don’t like it. Should I conclude that a Mint competitor is paying you to roam the blogosphere leaving comments critical of Mint? That being said, I think you raise a valid criticism of Mint, and hopefully they will improve it. I still like the product. And to answer your question, no, none of my opinions on tDR is paid for.

    • KBP,

      I’m with you. I tried it for a few months and it was a MESS. Continually posting duplicate transactions…it was a major hassle to constantly be correcting errors. I was sort of “forced” over to MINT when the Free Quicken Online went by the wayside. I loved the Quicken site…

      Anyway, I ultimately just use online banking and an Excel Spreadsheet for a lot less hassle.

    • Well I was recommended Mint and wanted to try it. I think the idea is great. However, there seems to be an issue with getting my bank info. After 12 hours, my accounts finally showed up but no figures with an error message coming up everytime. It also would not draw in one of my credit cards saying that my sign in info was incorrect…it wasn’t. I deleted my account because it just wasn’t worth it….

  38. Shadox, I’ve used Quicken’s budget function and have never cared for it. I guess everybody has their own preferences, but I find something like Mint much easier to use. As for data security, that’s worth being concerned about, but Mint uses the same security that Fidelity and others use.

    • The Mint Budget tool does not work. I have been using it for a month and it is so buggy it is rendored useless. The Mint Help user posts have hundreds of complaints about this problem going back 12 months and it has not been resolved. The poor feedbaack from Mint employees on the users posts is alarming as they fail to see the pain it has caused people. I am looking to move to a differnt service and want an online service so I can ccess from anywhere.

        • I have used Mint for 2 or 3 years now and while having some bugs (miscategorizing some transactions), overall, it has been constant and reliable with all my financial accounts linked to it. No security problems either.

      • I agree with you ERic. And I tried to contact Mint help via email about the issue 3 times and they never responded. The budget would say I spent $194 for TAke out in November and was over budget by $94 (which wasn’t true) but when I clicked on the details, it would then show only $46 of take out. The overview and budget pages never matched what was on the transactions page after the first month. I canceled the account. Bummer. Great idea, but way too buggy and no customer service response.

      • I agree– Mint Budget tool DOES NOT WORK, so it renders the entire program practically pointless. I tried for a year to work with Mint, they emailed me dozens of times and were very courteous, but they could just never figure it out. The budgets just would not roll over correctly which made it difficult to create methods of monitoring consistency. Deleted my account after a year…

  39. can anyone explain to me how any of these sites are better than Quicken? The fact that all this financial information is centralized in one place on the web is a scary proposition. Never mind the risk of hackers – I don’t want any single company to have that much information about me. My consolidated financial statements are a map of my life. I am the only one that should be holding that particular map.

  40. I find myself drooling over the screen shots of mint when I see them, yet I can’t get over the security risk of giving them all of my account access information.

    Obviously you haven’t had any problems, but what do you think about the safety of the site and your data?

      • I’ve used mint.com for over 3 years now, I’ve never had a security issue with it at all.
        I love the fact they let you set budgets that rollover, and some that don’t. So for hobby’s I can have the budget roll over and “save up” for a big item, and for food (going out to eat) I can cut it off at the end of the month and it reset for the next month.

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