Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bringing Your Budgeting Out of the Stone Age

No matter how much money you make, it is easy to spend too much. As expenses (debts) overwhelm revenue (credits), many people run into budget problems, such as overdrafts, penalties and even foreclosure. Paper and pencil don't automatically calculate depreciation rates, adjustable rate mortgages or equity derivatives. In the modern era, it is wise to use modern technology, tools and software options for bringing your budgeting out of the stone age.

Many people have run into financial difficulties due to overdrafting their accounts. With checking, savings and money market accounts that have frequent direct deposit or automatic withdrawal transactions occurring constantly, modern budgeting can be complicated. A simple Non-Sufficient Funds Fee of $35 can wipe out a planned restaurant meal or movie night.

People have a variety of different financial positions - from the high school or college graduates just starting out to the wealthy financial investor with numerous accounts and investments in his portfolio. Each person must find the best online software to fit his individual needs.

There are free and pay software online that can help with the three most important elements of budgeting:

  • Accounting Credits and Debits

  • Bill Pay

  • Calculation

  • Funds Transfer

  • Investment Portfolio

Here are some popular online budgeting tools:


PearBudget is a Web-based financial management program offering a free 30-day trial. It is based on the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet using the envelope system where people place their money in a separate file, folder or envelope for each expense. This prevents people from spending money reserved for necessities on unnecessary items.

Users follow a simple 3-step process of Plan, Enter and Review for their budgets. The spreadsheet quickly calculates totals. The advantages of PearBudget include the ease-of-use, familiar templates and great customer service.


"We are refreshing money management" is the slogan of the popular website. Mint is a free online money management tool where customers can view their checking, savings and credit card accounts in one convenient location. It has enabled anywhere budgeting with its award-winning iPhone and Android apps.

Consumers can quickly organise their financial information for display in colourful charts. The structure is straightforward and intuitive. It is easy to set spending monthly goals and Mint can alert you if you are above or below your goal. Mint is easy to customise. Mint boasts 4 million users and has won numerous awards.


Mvelopes is online software based on the envelope budgeting system for financial management, which provides a guide or map for future expenses. Mvelopes offers a free 30-day trial. It encourages customers to "proactively take control of their budget."

It is simple to enter data into Mvelopes. Mvelopes enables users to budget, track spending, calculate net worth and pay bills. It is an award-winning program.

YNAB (You Need A Budget)

"Stop living paycheck to paycheck" is the motto of YNAB. YNAB offers a free 7-day trial download. YNAB helps users establish financial discipline with the four steps of Plan, Adjust, Surplus and Save to create a balanced budget.

Customers simply fill in their financial information into colorful spreadsheets. This software doesn't link directly into your bank accounts. The categories are already established to assist you with your budgeting. A more advanced version, YNAB Pro, is available with more graphs and charts.


Yodlee has services for both financial institutions and consumers for managing their money. The Yodlee MoneyCenter is free, aggregation software that enables users to get a solid picture of their financial condition. It has been described as a one-stop shop for viewing, tracking, bill paying and funds transferring purposes.

This is a good system for getting a complete picture of your financial condition. It has a Financial Calendar for planning ahead and timely alerts for reminding you of bills. Users can run generate personalised reports. Yodlee is effective at pulling data from different sources, maintaining your financial history and even allows you to include frequent flyer miles.

Matt writes at Money Choices, which is an independently operated Australian compare website for buyers to find cheap car loans and other financial products

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