You can find the best budget software programs to manage your personal finances. Some focus more on personal budgeting while others focus more on investments and retirement planning.
Option 1: Online Web Based Personal Finance Software
Online web based personal finance software typically aggregate your financial data from different sources such as checking accounts, savings accounts, investment, and retirement accounts. This gives you a more complete financial picture of your net worth and financial activity in one place.
Because the software is web based (in the cloud), this allows for the convenience of accessing your financial data from any location as long as you have internet access and from various supported devices such as smartphones, iPad, tablets, laptop computers, or desktop computers whether PC or Mac. Some of the online budget software services use the envelope budgeting system.
Some things to consider when looking at web based personal finance software is that some people may not be comfortable having all their personal financial data aggregated online which may be subject to a hacker, identity theft and privacy issues. Another potential issue is if the internet is down or you don't have access to the internet, then you may not be able to access your financial data. Also, there may be connection issues to your specific accounts, such as one of your bank accounts, so access to that data may be limited until the issue is fixed. Also, while some online based budget software tools may be free, others charge a monthly fee in order to use the online service.
Some examples are mint.com, ynab.com, personalcapital.com, and mvelopes.com
Option 2: PC or Mac Desktop Based Personal Finance Software
PC or Mac based personal budgeting software that you install on your desktop or laptop computer is another option. Generally, financial transactions can be downloaded directly from your online financial accounts into the software, imported after manually downloading into a .QFX file format, .csv (comma separated values) file, .txt (text) file, or entered directly into the software.
Some of the desktop budgeting software programs may allow you to access and enter your data from different devices such as a tablet or smartphone, while not at your home computer by downloading and using a mobile app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device in conjunction with cloud storage such as dropbox.com. The mobile app will sync data across your devices. If you choose to use these mobile apps, you have the convenience of accessing your budget data on different devices via the internet but you are also placing your budget data in the cloud (internet) along with having it stored on your home computer.
Some examples are quicken.com, moneydance.com and iBank (from iggsoftware.com compatible with mac only)
Option 3: Budget Spreadsheet Templates
Another option is keeping track of your personal finances on spreadsheet templates. They can be on saved on your desktop, laptop, or online in the cloud allowing for access from various locations. Spreadsheet budgeting templates require that you have spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
If you make your own, you can customize it to fit your family finances and manage your home budget with a simple easy to use budget spreadsheet. I use Excel budget spreadsheet templates as the budgeting tool for my personal finances. I like keeping track of my transactions in an excel checkbook register.
Using excel helps prevent potential calculation errors in your running balance. It can also help with reconciling your bank accounts. It’s important to reconcile your bank accounts or at a minimum to verify all transactions on the statements and make sure that all of the transactions are yours and for the right amounts and that no fraudulent charges were made in one of your accounts such as a credit card account or checking account.
You can also use spreadsheet templates to track your investments and mortgage using mortgage calculators and amortization tables.
I know some people who do not use budgeting software at all, and they have managed their home finances very well, living debt free and saving for the future. I believe some of the keys to their financial success are consistent hard work, being financially disciplined, in terms of spending and saving, and also being frugal. They keep track of their transactions on a paper check register, balancing the checkbook register on a monthly basis. They also keep track, by writing down on paper, of how much money came in and how much was spent.
One the other hand, using the best rated budget software or the most popular budget software to create a monthly budget does not mean that your finances will be great, because you still have to have the diligence to make money, spend within your means, make wise investment choices and save.
Ultimately, the best personal budgeting tools or personal finance software depends on what specific software features you need, what you are most comfortable with in terms of security and privacy of your personal financial information, and what works best for you based on your prior experience. Sometimes experimenting with different programs helps with making the comparison.
Some budget software programs have free trial periods to see if they are right for you. You can also compare budget software reviews online and also look at customer reviews to see ratings on specific features. Viewing videos such as those found on youtube.com can also be helpful in comparing personal finance software. You may find some free web based budget software tools online but they may involve advertising on the website.
Be encouraged, you can budget, control your expenses and get out of debt. No matter what budget system you use, it’s important to work hard, save, and invest wisely.