Home Budget Software
November 12, 2006 5:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for free or invexpensive Home Budget Software. I've seen the previous AskMe and have searched download.com.

jgnash? Ace Money? It would be helpful if you describe what you use and why. What I need is something simple. A mindless device that I can use to track and plan spending/savings. I've tried MS Money and didn't like it. Thanks in advance.
posted by snsranch to Work & Money (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What didn't you like about MSMoney? How about Quicken? I use MSMoney, import my CC/Bank accounts in weekly, and categorize everything. It works great for me.
posted by SirStan at 6:06 PM on November 12, 2006

If all you want to do is keep track of a budget, then any spreadsheet software (Excel) will work fine.

Personally, I use Quicken. I don't use the budgeting features very much, but that's because I don't like the idea of budgets. Like SirStan, I use it to download my financial transactions and categorize them. This makes it really easy to figure out how much money went to X during Y timeframe.
posted by gwenzel at 6:16 PM on November 12, 2006

I hated quicken, it was bloated, and annoying. The only redeeming feature was the syncing with banks automatically. I'd suggest saving receipts and using Excel (or even cheaper, OpenOffice). You can do magic with spreadsheets and formulas.

If you use the mac, there is cashbox which is free and good for tracking spending.
posted by cschneid at 6:50 PM on November 12, 2006

Excel. Make a category for everything you spend money on each month then get a big envelope and hang it on a wall in a convenient place so you can empty all of your receipts into it on a daily basis. Then at the end of the month get all of your receipts and credit card statements and put them in their correct categories in column a - then make a list of all your incoming money in column b. If column B doesn't come out ahead of column a. Scan the categories and see which ones you can live without.
posted by any major dude at 7:16 PM on November 12, 2006

I like PearBudget. "...FREE budgeting program, written in Excel. It can be used by almost any spread- sheet program (Excel, Word, OpenOffice, etc.). Setting it up is a snap, and it takes less than half an hour a month to maintain it and see how you’re doing."

I hardly ever had a budget I maintained for more than a month before - but I've had this running since August, and it's really easy. Takes me about 10 minutes every couple of days to enter receipts.
posted by Liosliath at 7:46 PM on November 12, 2006

A program that I swear by is Moneydance. It imports like MSMoney/Quicken directly from my bank, is java based (speedy!!!), and has a really good development crew behind it. It costs a little but is small enough to run off a keychain drive (lets hear it for portable apps). YMMV, but take a look.

posted by Koffeeman at 6:19 AM on November 13, 2006

I've heard people recommend mvelopes.com, too, for budgeting. MS Money is kinda crap for budgeting, but it does do the job. AceMoney is OK, but requires a lot of fiddling with stuff to get working right, for many of the same reasons MS Money does.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:42 AM on November 13, 2006

Seconding Pear Budget. Simple, painless, free.
posted by moira at 1:40 PM on November 13, 2006

Howdy. I made PearBudget, so I can speak a bit to that. I think, based on your description of what you're looking for, that it's just about right for you. It's free, it's easy, and I tried hard to make it user-friendly. (Thanks, by the way, for the endorsements, Liosliath and moira.)

The following paragraph is really more complicated than PearBudget itself, so if your eyes start to glaze, just download the spreadsheet and play with it. But I figured I'd give you some background on it. At the core of how PearBudget works is a recognition that you spend money on different expenses in different ways. Accordingly, you need to budget in different ways as well. Examples: Each month, you spend $300 on groceries (say, 5 trips to the store, averaging $60 a trip; the amount you spend changes from month to month). Each month, you also spend $800 on rent (one payment, once a month; it's the same amount every month). Each year, you spend $1,800 on car maintenance (you have no idea when you'll spend that money, but you know that you should probably set some money aside each month to cover those big expenses). What PearBudget does is break those three types of expenses into meta-categories: variable, regular, and irregular expenses. My theory is that each of those really needs to be treated differently from the others. So you set it up with your categories (and the amount of money you want to spend in each category), and then you enter your receipts once or twice a week. PearBudget does most of the thinking for you, basically telling you how much money you have left in each of your categories.

If you want something that will synchronize with your bank / credit card, you'll want to bite the bullet and wrestle with Microsoft Money or something like it. My opinion, though is that it's not important to have a budget with lots of data in it (auto-filled by the program), but that it is important to know what's going on with your finances. I think that, with 5 - 10 minutes a week (really, that's two or three commercial breaks of your favorite TV show), you can really get a handle on where you stand with your finances. And you'll be appalled at how much you spend dining out.

Some screenshots are here. The PearBudget website is here. And if you want to skip all that, the zipped spreadsheet is here. As mentioned above, it's free.
posted by Alt F4 at 12:52 PM on November 14, 2006

Hmmm. Let's try that last line again, shall we? (The Flickr link was broken.)

Some screenshots are here. The PearBudget website is here. And if you want to skip all that, the zipped spreadsheet is here. As mentioned above, it's free.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:16 PM on November 14, 2006

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