We’re occasionally asked about budgeting when folks are planning to buy a home and while we don’t officially endorse any specific software, we do recommend having something in place. We’re personally fans of Microsoft Excel and there are a number of budgeting templates within Excel if you search for them. Below we’ve included a few overviews of online budgeting software options that have been gaining popularity. There are all kinds of mobile apps and online software available so be sure to do your homework and find the one that best suits your needs.
Mint. I personally use Mint (because my Financial Planner told me to). Mint is a top pick of the Wall Street Journal and PCMag for personal financial software. Mint pulls all your bank accounts, investments, and debts together to give you a big picture of your financial situation, and stores the logins for all of these accounts. I don’t use these following features but they’re pretty snazzy. Mint will send you alerts when a bill is due or an interest rate changes, and like Quicken it can track where you’re spending most of your money. Text Mint to find out the balance on your credit card, or use the online app to review a past purchase or check if you’re on budget. Plus, Mint is free to download and use.
Quicken. The granddaddy of home budgeting, Quicken has been around for ages, and if you work in an office environment you may already have seen it at work, as it’s often used at small businesses as well. Quicken is one of the most popular personal finance programs out there. Consolidate your banking information, sort expenses into categories to track where most of your money goes, create a budget, take photos of receipts to upload, and develop custom plans to reduce debt or build your savings. Cost for Quicken runs $40-$105.
Manilla. Manilla is a Webby Award winner that lets you create one login to access all your financial accounts, sends out billpay reminders and delivers statements and bills to your inbox. It’s free and offers an online version and a mobile app. Manilla’s online bill manager tracks your utilities, credit cards, loyalty and rewards programs, and magazine subscriptions, and it also allows you to add accounts that are particular to you, such as your rent, the dog walker, or gym membership.
YNAB. “You Need a Budget” is quickly becoming a favorite of people who want to take control of their home budgets. YNAB takes managing your finances a bit further than some other sites, providing educational material about how and particularly why you need to create a budget. Plus, YNAB works with your current disposable income, rather than looking at projections for the next month, so you are budgeting in real time with actual dollars you already have. YNAB also makes it easy to move money from one category to another as needed, while still keeping track of your overall budget and staying within your means. YNAB offers online classes and is available online and with a mobile platform. Purchase YNAB for $60 at http://www.youneedabudget.com/store.
Of course, you need to determine which program fits your style and needs the best. Most of the software and apps listed offer free trials so you can choose the budget assistant that you can quickly learn, easily customize, and most of all that you will actually use. Happy budgeting!