The ability to budget is essential to surviving (and I think it’s safe to say thriving) in today’s economy. Saving money is something we all want to do; however, it can be incredibly challenging at times. In fact, a lot of people find budgeting rather depressing because it forces you to take a good long look at your finances and see exactly what you’re spending your money on.
Budgeting is one of the most basic, yet effective, ways to keep your finances in order. However, budgeting is also a tough task, and requires some effort on your part. This blog post will provide you with 12 tools designed to help you create and stick to a budget.
12 Best Tools for Budgeting
Scoro combines budgeting features with other tools to manage your entire company in one system. You can also manage expenses and resources, use a financial dashboard, and manage project budgets.
- Budget planning and forecasting
- Financial reports and analysis
- Unlimited project budgets
- Financial KPI dashboard
- Invoicing and professional services automation
- Automated revenue stream from invoices
What’s special about this tool: Scoro combines the tools for budgeting, CRM, and project management so that you can manage your entire business in one solution and access all the financial data in one place.
Pricing: From $26 user/month, 14-days free trial.
Centage is a comprehensive enterprise budgeting software provider that offers different tools called Maestros for budgeting, forecasting, financial reporting, etc. If you’re looking for a highly complete solution, Centage might be the answer.
- Budgeting and planning
- Financial dashboard and reporting
- Comprehensive analytics
What’s special about this tool: Centage integrates with other widely used enterprise management software like SAGE, Dynamics, and QuickBooks.
Pricing: Upon Reques
Prophix says it has created a software solution for corporate performance management, which means that it includes many smaller tools for managing a company’s resources and planning its budgets.
- Budgeting, planning, and forecasting
- Financial, statutory and management reporting
- Cash flow planning
- Profitability modeling and optimization
- Personnel planning
What’s special about this tool: Prophix wants to offer its users a wholesome product that scales as the company grows.
Pricing: Upon Request
Float is an easy-to-use cash flow forecasting and budget management software that integrates seamlessly with other tools like Xero, Quickbooks Online, and Free Agent.
- Cash flow forecasting
- Business budgeting
- Visual reporting
What’s special about this tool: Float is a highly visual and nice-to-use tool that helps to bring more clarity to your company’s budgets and cash flow.
Pricing: Small (1 user account) $35/month, Medium (3 user accounts) $59/month, Large (10 user accounts) $119/month
Compared with Centage and Prophix, Planguru is a more simple budgeting software solution, which might be what you’re looking for to manage your small company’s budget.
- Pre-built Integrated Financial Statement Structure
- Payroll Utility
- Engagement Tools for Professional Accountants
- 20+ Standard Forecasting Methods
- Forecast using Non-Financial Data
What’s special about this tool: Planguru has a separate analytics tool that helps to get a better overview of financials and make better decisions.
Pricing: $99/company/month + $29 for each additional user
GIDE helps companies combine budgeting, strategic planning, and rolling forecasts while consolidating projects/companies and business departments within one comprehensive corporate performance management platform.
- Profit/loss statement Balance sheet & Cash flows
- Capital asset planning
- Capital structuring
- Operational data
- Working Capital
What’s special about this tool: GIDE promises a fast implementation process of two weeks compared to the average of 8 weeks of budgeting software implementation.
Pen and Paper
While budgeting apps and software are popular, you don’t need anything more than a pen and some paper to write a budget. The basic budgeting process involves writing down all your expenses, from monthly bills to small discretionary purchases such as morning coffee or lunches. Then, categorize those expenses according to whether they are needs or wants. Next, add up your income. Earmark your income for your needs first and any money left over can be spent on wants.
If your expenses exceed your income, you’ll need to determine what changes to make. You may be able to balance your budget by cutting out wants, such as dining out or a gym membership, but in some cases, you may need to consider more significant changes such as moving to an area with a lower cost of living.
An envelope system involves placing cash into envelopes marked for major budget categories such as groceries, clothing and dining out. It makes it easy to see how much money is available for each spending category.
“The envelope method is a great tool for budgeting because it forces people to take control of their spending with cash in hand,” says Howard Dvorkin, CPA and chairman of Debt.com. When money in a particular envelope is gone, it signals that no more spending should occur in that category until the cash is replenished.
For a highly customizable way to track income and expenses, use a spreadsheet. “People can download budgeting spreadsheet templates that come formatted with formulas, dates and labels,” Dvorkin says. “This method helps take the guesswork out of organizing a budget, and it can also make it easier to edit a budget and track income.”
Both Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets offer free budget templates to users. You can also create your own, though there can be a learning curve to using the programs. Microsoft provides free online training lessons on its support website for Office products. Otherwise, plenty of tutorials can be found on YouTube.
If you’re making a budget for the first time, a worksheet can eliminate some of the guesswork. These papers often have recommended percentages to indicate how much of your earnings should be spent on each category each month.
Several organizations offer free budgeting worksheets online. American Consumer Credit Counseling, a nonprofit credit counseling provider, has sheets for household budgeting, expense tracking and budgeting for specific needs. Meanwhile, Regions Bank has free worksheets anyone can download from its Next Step Financial Education website, including a personal spending plan worksheet and daily spending tracker.
“The resources and tools we offer through Regions Next Step, like these worksheets, can help people improve their financial skills, stay organized and take the next steps to meeting their goals,” says Joye Hehn, vice president of financial education strategy and implementation at Regions Bank.
Banking Tools and Apps
Free budgeting tools may be as close as your bank’s website. Bank of America, Chase and even local credit unions are among the institutions to provide customers budgeting resources that can track expenses, run spending reports and export data to spreadsheets or computer software.
“At Chase, we are constantly enhancing our digital banking features to help our customers make the most of their money,” Divilek says. With the Chase Mobile app, customers can use a budget feature to track their spending throughout the month and determine how much is available after bills and transfers.
By paying bills online, banking tools may create charts and graphs that categorize spending, and this information can be used to develop a household budget. Banks may also offer other tools that aren’t specific for budgeting but can be helpful to manage money. For instance, you may be able to set up automatic transfers to savings or receive alerts when account balances are low.
No list of free budgeting tools would be complete without mentioning the many free budgeting websites and apps available today. Mint may be the most well-known of the internet and smartphone-based budgeting applications, and it offers comprehensive services at no cost.
Mint users can link multiple financial accounts to the service, which then tracks and categorizes spending. It includes a payment tracker with bill reminders, and its calculators allow people to see how their decisions may impact progress toward goals.
Designed specifically for partners who are managing money together, Honeydue helps couples stay on the same page financially. The free app allows people to link multiple accounts to share balances and spending information. A chat feature allows partners to discuss specific transactions if needed.
In terms of budgeting, Honeydue categorizes expenses to make it easy to ensure your monthly spending stays on track. The app will also send bill reminders. For those who are looking for a joint bank account, Honeydue offers those as well, with deposits insured by Sutton Bank.
SoFi Relay is another free budgeting app. It allows users to link accounts, review balances and set spending targets. It aggregates accounts and makes it easy to review spending by category.
The app also provides access to VantageScore 3.0 credit scores and makes it simple to connect with a professional to discuss financial goals and strategies. SoFi Relay users are entitled to a complimentary 30-minute call with one of the company’s in-house financial planners.
This savvy budgeting software is intended for those who like the idea of an envelope cash management system but don’t want the hassle of carrying physical envelopes.
Instead, Goodbudget lets users fund virtual envelopes that are used to track expenses and sync and share budget information across devices. The free version includes 10 regular envelopes, 10 more envelopes, one year of account history and access to community support forums.
Reducing expenses is often an integral part of creating a workable budget, and Truebill is an app that helps users identify sources of spending that may fly under the radar. Once you link a bank account, Truebill will automatically search for recurring payments such as subscription services and, if you want, cancel those accounts.
Truebill can also create a budget based on your transactions and monitor your spending. Through its bill negotiation feature, it may be able to lower monthly expenses for wireless, cable and insurance bills, among others. While the app is free to download and use, Truebill will collect 40% of your savings if it successfully negotiates down a bill.
Free Budgeting Tools
Managing your money successfully includes keeping a close eye on your expenses. One way to do that is to take advantage of free software and services. Free personal finance software can be surprisingly robust, helping you track spending, create and manage budgets, and run reports.
Mint is a free online budget planner from Intuit, the makers of TurboTax and Quickbooks. This app brings all of your financial data together, showing you an overview of your budget, spending, bills, and credit score. You can create your own budget, set goals and reminders, and sync your data between web and apps. Security is enhanced by encryption and multi-factor authentication. You can also use Mint to track your investments and portfolio.
Access Mint via the web or phone apps for iOS and Android.
GnuCash is desktop software; its features include tracking bank accounts, stocks, income, and expenses. GnuCash is based on double-entry accounting for balanced books and you can run a number of reports to see your financial data. GnuCash also offers small-business accounting tools that let you manage customers and vendors, handle invoicing and bill payment, and even payroll.
GnuCash is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, BSD, and Solaris. There is a companion app for Android that will let you track expenses on the go and later import them into the desktop software.
AceMoney Lite bills itself as the best Quicken alternative. You can manage your budgets, track your finances in multiple currencies, keep an eye on your investments and analyze your spending habits. You can also do online banking. As this is the lite version, you’re limited to two accounts; the full version supports unlimited accounts.
AceMoney Lite is compatible with Windows and Mac OS X.
Personal Capital offers free financial software for tracking investments and planning for retirement, in addition to its tools for cash flow, spending, budgeting and net worth. Personal Capital’s focus is on investments, showing you the performance of your portfolio over time and helping you make decisions for the future, so its budgeting components aren’t as robust as other software.
If you’re not an investor or prefer fine-tuning your budget to getting the broad view, Personal Capital may not be the best fit. However, if you want to save for college or retirement, its free tools will show you whether you’re on track.
Personal Capital can be accessed via the web or apps for Android and iOS.
Buddi is an open-source budget software that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems and has been translated into multiple languages. Buddi can encrypt financial data with a password, and it’s designed to be easy to use even if you have no financial background.
Features include budgeting, tracking accounts, and personal finance reports, but you will have to enter transactions manually. Free plugins add more features, and the online user manual is easy to read and use.
Buddi is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Free Budget Spreadsheets
If you don’t need fully featured personal financial software and you’re just concerned about keeping a budget, there are some great free budget spreadsheet templates you can use with Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Calc or Google Sheets. Just download and open them in your spreadsheet software to get a handle on your cash flow.
Quicken is a long-established tool for managing personal accounts, and while its reputation was founded on a desktop version, it is also available as an app for your mobile devices.
Quicken has a comprehensive set of financial reporting features. These are organized around a few different topics, including budgeting, bills, accounts, and even investing. For budgeting, it allows you to enter your purchases and income so you can compare them to have a better picture of how much you spend versus how much you earn.
In terms of bills, you can see which utilities and such services you are constantly paying, as well as the amounts owed and how much money you have left over. For accounting purposes, you can even combine your banking and credit card payments in one location so you know exactly how much you’re paying out. This is especially useful because consumers frequently underestimate how much simple purchases might add to prices.
It also allows you to track your investments, whether they are part of your savings, investment portfolio, or 401k pension plan. This implies that you have a good notion of how much your savings and assets are worth, while it’s fair to say that
In total, Quicken combines your banking, investment reporting, and budgeting into a single dashboard that you can access from a PC or even a mobile device via the mobile app.
You Need A Budget, often known as YNAB, is here just in case you require precise instructions. Because, hey, you really do need one if you don’t want to spend every every penny you have and more. Perhaps you have more money than you anticipated as well.
As you may anticipate, YNAB’s main goal is to assist you in reducing your expenditure and avoiding living paycheck to paycheck. Maintain the plan and moderate your spending, and soon YNAB will realize that you are using last month’s funds rather than those you just received.
It is simple to install, supports the bulk of transaction data that can be downloaded from banks, and automatically adjusts for use by either individuals or small businesses by altering its monetary categories in accordance with your requirements.
If you stray from your course, YNAB, which is surprisingly understanding and forgiving for a piece of software, will inform you what to do to get back on track. You’ll have to make some compromises, but if direction is what you need, this stands out from competitors like Quicken.
When working simultaneously with various currencies, BankTree performs a good job of supporting them by providing balances in multiple currencies rather than rounding them off to a single total. The ability to scan receipts with its mobile app and input them later makes it useful for keeping track of anything else.
Although BankTree doesn’t have the most attractive interface and is a little bit trickier to use than some of its more sophisticated brethren, it does provide some quite neat reports that can be broken down by time or payee. Before deciding to buy this one, it would be worthwhile to try the free trial.
Although you are limited to using the desktop program on one PC, it comes with a year of updates and support. There is a fee for using the software on any subsequent PCs. Additionally, a browser-based version is accessible.
Regardless of the version you choose, BankTree offers a 30-day free trial so you can see if it’s right for you before making a purchase.
4. Money Dashboard
The iOS/Android app for Money Dashboard isn’t trying to revolutionize banking or offer anything truly ground-breaking, but it is perhaps one of the best money management tools available. Connect all of your UK bank and credit card accounts, and you’ll be able to log in once to access all of your balances in one location. That is reason enough for us to suggest it.
Money Dashboard will track your expenditure and provide you with a comprehensive pie chart showing your spending on loans, consumables, transportation, and other expenses. You can quickly see your total balance and see how much cash is available in each of your accounts. You can also compare this amount to the one from the previous month.
Moneydance is a desktop money management program with a very slick single-window layout that was designed especially for Mac users (but it is also available for Windows and Linux). You may instantly check your accounts, impending invoices, current expenses, and more when you load it up. When you click on an item in the left sidebar, the main content updates to reflect your selection.
One of Moneydance’s most helpful features is its account register, and its reporting capabilities are solid though not very eye-catching. This works on a very similar concept if you’re old-school and used to maintain a checkbook. Additionally, there is an iOS app for recording transactions while on the go, which afterwards syncs with the desktop software.
UK users must manually download their transaction history to stay on top of it and switch to their bank’s own app to transfer money because Moneydance is unable to support the connection protocols used by UK banks. However, US users are well-covered.
Best Small Business Budgeting Software
With over 30 million users across industries and different business sizes, Mint, which was created in 2006, is considered the pioneer of budgeting apps. This software gives you a thorough overview of your monthly savings and expenses. You can sync numerous accounts, create payment reminders (and actually pay your bills), check your credit, manage your budget, track your assets, and more using Mint. Not only is Mint totally free, but it’s also incredibly simple to set up and use.
Popular small business accounting and financial software is called FreshBooks. If that’s what you require, it includes some basic budgeting features and might be worth a try. FreshBooks’ entry-level subscription includes common budgeting capabilities including cost tracking, invoice creation, receipt scanning, and information access via the mobile app. Small company owners can obtain helpful guidance from FreshBooks on how to build and keep to a budget.
An entirely automatic budgeting app called Pocketguard. You can see how much money you have left over to spend each week or month thanks to the special feature “In My Pocket.” The app keeps track of your subscriptions, whether they be to professional memberships, marketing software, or trade magazines, so you won’t be charged for services you don’t use. The ability to manage recurrent expenses like phone and internet bills and find savings opportunities is another advantage of PocketGuard. The monthly price for the Pro version is $4.99.
YNAB (You Need a Budget)
With the help of the award-winning app You Need a Budget (YNAB), small business owners, particularly freelancers and solopreneurs, can revamp their budgets and frequently save $6,000 in the first year. Wouldn’t that be nice? You can access budget data from any device and follow your objectives and progress with the app’s graphic graphs and charts. YNAB’s security feature, which encrypts data and passwords, is a significant advantage. You may attend a variety of online classes through the YNAB app ($14.99/month), which can help you manage your budget even if your income is irregular.
Simplifi by Quicken
Simplifi by Quicken is a fantastic app to take into consideration if you are starting a business where the cash flow isn’t yet consistent or if you are already an entrepreneur. You may create a flexible monthly budget with Simplifi, keep tabs on your spending, and make future spending plans. For only $5.99/month, the app offers real-time updates on daily spending (both personal and business), as well as the overall financial picture, so you can accurately track the progress of your startup.
Mvelopes is a well-liked budgeting app for solopreneurs and independent contractors that is modeled after a cash envelope system where you enter a designated amount for certain expenses. For any categories that apply to your business, such as home office expenses, client meetings, equipment, and shipping, you can create digital envelopes. You may quickly adjust the income you use to create your budget with Mvelopes, even though it may vary from month to month. The envelope turning red if you overspend is another cool feature. Mvelopes is unfortunately not available for free; the entry-level package costs $5.97 each month, but your company could gain from the $6,175 in average savings that users have recorded.
Even if you’re just getting started, keeping track of where all the money is going can be challenging. You can organize your budgets, bookkeeping, and taxes with the help of the comprehensive accounting and finance tool InDinero. Cash flow statements and forecasting models can be produced. Even useful instructions on startup finance are available on the app. If you’re looking for a comprehensive accounting solution, InDinero’s beginning price is $300/month, but there are also customized pricing options.
You can use your phone or laptop to access the budgeting program Goodbudget. It is based on the tried-and-true envelope-budgeting technique, and it enables new business owners to see both their personal and business finances. One thing to note is that Goodbudget does not instantly sync to your bank accounts, in contrast to its rivals. Transactions can be manually entered or imported. Their instructive books and videos can be beneficial for any beginning businessperson who wants to learn the basics of budgeting. Both a Plus version ($7/month) and a free version of Goodbudget are available.
Toshl might be worth looking into if you’re a startup business owner who isn’t very concerned with having all the extra bells and whistles. Toshl is a software for manual budgeting and cost monitoring that offers an easy-to-use interface. You can make a budget and keep track of your spending anyway you like – do you want to keep track of solely your travel or eating expenses? Users adore the River flow graph, which reveals the precise paths taken by your money. You can use the Toshl free version for as long as you like; a more feature-rich bundle is offered for a reasonable monthly charge of $4.99.
Through a single dashboard, Personal Capital provides both investment and budgeting options. You can keep tabs on your spending, loans, investments, and retirement savings. Investors, financial advisers, portfolio managers, or even a small company owner who is preparing for retirement would benefit greatly from this software. You may still make a budget and categorize spending with the less robust budgeting options than with other apps. The cost of Personal Capital is dependent on your investment amount and starts at 0.89 percent for investments under $1 million.
Albert is a feature-rich financial tool that supports managing your spending, savings, and investments. Your budget is automatically created for you by Albert, a powerful AI, based on your income, historical spending, and obligations. Additionally, it gives you the ability to monitor the performance of your portfolio and start investing with as little as $1. You will learn about emerging markets, Albert’s hand-picked equities, and other worldwide investment trends as a financial professional. The majority of the features on the Albert app are free, but there is a $6/month minimum fee to use Albert Genius.
PlanGuru is a quick and effective budgeting tool that’s ideal for new businesses and professionals in the accounting or finance industries. You may use the program to generate a straightforward yet adaptable small business budget that you can divide up into various sections. A key selling point for PlanGuru is its 20 forecasting tools. It syncs effortlessly with Xero, Excel, and QuickBooks Online. PlanGuru costs $99 per month.
It might become a little sticky when managing budgets with another individual. Honeydew is great for partnerships when you and your partner share the business bank account and credit cards because it makes it easier to track costs jointly. How? To be able to view each other’s situation, Honeydew lets you and your partner attach accounts, loans, and credit cards to the app. Additionally, it allows you to make your own unique spending categories, including “office supplies,” “travel charges,” and “raw material cost.” The nicest feature of Honeydew is its alluring cost: free!
There’s no doubt about it- budgeting is a challenge. It’s very hard to make and stick to effective budgets- especially for large companies with high levels of complexity. Our research shows that lack of budgeting tools is one of the top reasons why budgets fail.