Free Budgeting in Cyberspace

Are you looking for useful tools to help create a budget and manage your spending? Never fear, the Internet is here. We’ve looked at a number of useful options and boiled it down to three. Our criteria was simple: FREE and EASY. Depending on your needs, there’s a tool for you. Keep reading to the end, we definitely saved the best for last.

Mint.com

Mint.com is definitely a popular online budgeting tool for many reasons. First – this is a full service budget management and goal tracking tool…for free.  In addition, the free mobile app allows you to manage your budget on the go. That’s handy. Mint offers a full array of charts and graphs to help visualize your financial picture. The site connects directly to your bank and other accounts to share data which makes the budget building process faster. That’s exactly what I don’t like. This feature is not optional. Mint.com won’t work for me because I’m not comfortable sharing my financial accounts with 3rd party tools…even Mint.been-on-the-scene-for-a-while.com

I also didn’t care for the manual budget building process. It’s not intuitive (assuming so because of the preference to pull in data electronically). It works well for simple budgets, but creating multiple categories (i.e. multiple income sources) wasn’t immediately intuitive. However, it’s a free tool and if you have less apprehension about linking your financial accounts, Mint.com can be a powerfully helpful tool.

 

Dave Ramsey’s Free Forms

Great paper tools. You can print them out and hang this on the fridge as I like to suggest.  These simple straight forward, PDF forms are designed to be done by hand. I would suggest this for beginners at least once.

 

Budget Simple

Let’s be clear. I LOVE THIS SITE! Budget Simple offers two versions. The Free version only gives you access to the budget and reports (It throws in ads for your viewing pleasure). The paid version ($5/month) includes access to the mobile app, more extensive reports, and is ad free. I can deal with ads. You can also link to your bank account – which for me is not a plus, but I digress… However, this is very optional – as it should be.

The first plus – you can add multiple income sources immediately. If you have a two income household or side jobs, this is a definite bonus from an organizational standpoint. The budget creation process is clear and well laid out. Customization is a cinch with buttons to add additional categories. Go ahead, add multiple categories of the same type. Yay!

I did run into a glitch which required a refreshed. It happened once during budget creation. It wasn’t life altering. Setting up the budget is marvelously simple. The expense tracking feature is intuitive. The interface is uncluttered. I haven’t seen any overwhelming ads. The reports in the free version are helpful and useful enough for those who never want to upgrade.

Finally, I’m in love with the Debt Pay Off Tool. Entering your outstanding debts and payment amounts automatically sets up your debt snowball with estimated dates for your Freedom Party (mark your calendar).

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