If you are trying to live on a budget (and we all should be), the process may be easier today than ever due to technology. Yes, I am sure there are those that swear by the old fashioned budget on a yellow pad and keeping cash in categorical envelopes, but your budget can enter the 21st century with today's new tools. I was surprised to find several absolutely free online budgeting systems and thought this would be a great topic for an article. One fact to consider, however, is that for most people the combination of car payments and mortgage payments represents more than half of their 'budget.' That only leaves 50% available to actively manage. Sort of puts things into perspective, and makes becoming debt free a very important goal.
Many of us pay our bills online today and receive our paychecks through automatic deposit. Using an online portal or money management software only makes sense. Additionally, with the explosion of mobile devices, most of these services offer mobile integration. This gives us the ability to track our expenses even when we are away from our home computer.
Free Budgeting Tools
The most well known free online option is Mint.com. Mint is not software that you download but a cloud based (online) budget management program. Mint offers a wide variety of features including a mobile app, integration with major bank and credit card companies, and even brokerage accounts. Receive bill payment reminders, alerts, create charts and graphs, and more. This is a completely free platform, and is supported by advertisers.
Another great option is Budget Pulse. A very robust online choice with many of the same features as Mint.com. One 'advantage' offered here is the ability to manually enter account balances without being required to sync them with your financial institution. For those uncomfortable syncing their accounts online this is considered one of the best options if you want to manage your balances manually. Budget Tracker
Budget Tracker has a free option, but charges a fee for upgraded access. This site also offers the option to manually input account balances. Another very nice online tool.
Dave Ramsey Free Budgeting Forms And Online Tools
If you are more comfortable with a traditional software program that you can download to your own computer, take a look at DS Budget. The program has very good reviews and is open source, making it 100% free.
Billster is another 100% free online budgeting tool. In addition to a suite of standard budgeting tools, it also offers a unique feature of managing shared expenses. This would be an excellent program to use if you share a home or have expenses you split with other individuals throughout the month.
The key to selecting a budgeting tool is to use what works for you. If you are not very good with a personal computer, your very best option could be a downloadable budget form that you use with a sharp pencil. Each of the above options has its own unique features. My advice is to sign up for several of them and kick the tires to see which program will fit your situation the best.
Please use the comments section below to share your own recommendations and tips on setting up and monitoring a budget.
Helping you make the most of God's money!
James L. Paris is the author of more than 20 books including Living Financially Free, Money Management For Those Who Don't Have Any, The 100 Best Investments For Your Retirement, and How to Pray for a Financial Miracle. Paris is the Editor In Chief of the website ChristianMoney.com. He regularly appears as a guest on radio and TV as a financial commentator. He has appeared on The 700 Club, Moody Radio, Point Of View, Life Today, Fox News Channel, and countless other media outlets.
He is an avid sailor, trumpet player, and black belt practitioner of Tae Kwon Do. He has three adult children and lives with his Wife Ann in Palm Coast, FL.
Publication date: September 2, 2013