Moolah. Smackers. Lettuce. Dough. Benjamins. Green backs. Folding stuff. Whatever you call it, money is something that we deal with mostly everyday. We spend it, we earn it, we throw it away, we hoard it. Different people do a variety of different things when it comes to money, but none the less, most of us will always spend our lives exchanging it in some form or fashion.
One thing I like to do is budget my money… I like to see where it goes, how I spend it, ways I could improve my saving, and so forth. There are quite a number of different budgeting software programs available today. Some of them are free, and some of them aren’t. A few can even link into your bank accounts to automatically help you categorize your spending and track your debt. I’ll show you a few that I use, and a few that I plan to learn more about using screenshots (that aren’t of my own account ha!).
You Need A Budget (YNAB)
I use YNAB myself and I love the concept behind it. YNAB is based upon 4 rules that teach you how to give every dollar a job, save for rainy days, roll with the punches and the ultimate goal being that you are able to live this month off of last month’s budget. The methodology behind YNAB can be used on a pencil and paper or in an excel spreadsheet for free, however they do have a software you can purchase for roughly $60 that follows the methods. I will speak to the software because I haven’t attempted to do the methodology myself yet. With their software you can add different accounts and even keep them off your budget if need be. (I use the off budget accounts for Credit Cards and Loans.) They also have a few reporting tools that I haven’t worked with too much so I can’t speak on those. I love that YNAB has a “fresh start” option. I judge myself too harshly when I spend off budget, or sometimes find myself towards the end of a month forgetting to budget the rest so YNAB will let me save all of my categories and customization I have created and give me a “fresh start” with the numbers so to speak. It probably isn’t the BEST idea to allow myself to do a blank start every so often, but I love having that function there if need be. YNAB also offers free online classes! I haven’t used those either but that’s a nice tool for teaching people how to use your product. The methodology behind YNAB can be used on a pencil and paper or in an excel spreadsheet for free, however they do have a software you can purchase for roughly $60 that follows the methods. You can learn more about YNAB here.
Every Dollar (Dave Ramsey)
For anyone who knows me, they know that I mention Dave Ramsey more than once. I absolutely love Dave’s outlook on money. His books are fantastic and I hear even better things about his classes, but that is a whole other blog post! I was excited when they introduced Every Dollar. To me, it is still new as this is only the 2nd month I am working on it, but I do like the set up. You set a budget for each item (and can add your own) and then add in transactions to categorize them. You can make categories funds as well and favorite categories so they are the top of your list. One thing I love about this tool is that it shows me how much progress I have completed in the baby steps, just by me entering in my numbers! I could see when my emergency fund was done, how much I had left on my debt snowball and more. Every Dollar is absolutely FREE! That makes it a budget worthy program! They do have the option to upgrade to Every Dollar Plus with a 15-day free trial, and $99/year thereafter. The plus option allows you to link your bank account and have transactions automatically pull into the software and you can categorize them by dragging and dropping vs. manual input. I haven’t tried the plus side, as I am still on the fence about software’s that link to my bank account but it is a nice functionality! You can find the software online here.
The next two budget programs I have started to use, but haven’t quite figured them out yet. They primarily focus around linking your accounts to the software which is a great tool, however like I said I am just unsure whether or not to trust them. I have heard great reviews about both however and will provide links to check them out as well because I do plan on exploring them more myself. They are most likely 100% safe, but I am and always have been a worry wart ha.
LearnVest looks like another awesome budgeting tool. One thing I like that they do offer is financial planners. You can choose to pay to talk to some people to get a customized plan just for you. They let you categorize money the same as the others, and also have that option to link to your accounts. They have a goal calendar that lets you know how much you’d need to contribute each month to meet that goal as well as flex spending so you don’t feel like you’re cutting out all of the fun things! It’s okay to have fun so I like that it categorizes it into flex spending. The website usage itself is free along with the methodology. If you want a personalized financial planner it is a one time setup fee of $299 + an ongoing $19.99/month thereafter, however they are always running specials and promotions to get up to $100 off your first setup fee! To me that’s a lot of money so I still haven’t committed yet to the financial planner, but I talked to someone once who said she used the paid help for a few months, then after that she was able continue using the free website herself which doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. I have just been meandering through the website playing with it myself. You can check out LearnVest here.
Mint is the one that I know the least about, but I hear about it quite frequently when I am doing my own research and talking to friends. It seems to have similar ideals to the others, and also allows you to link accounts. They also have a functionality called Mint Bills that you can keep track of all your bills in one place. You can check out Mint and Mint Bills here.
Do you use any of the same budgeting programs and if not, what else do you use? Do you link your accounts to them? Would love to hear all your feedback in the comments below!