When you hear the word budget, it might conjure a small sense of panic. After all, sticking to a budget means forgoing all the fun things in life like occasionally dining out or vacationing as a family, and being able to spend your hard-earned money on things you love, right? Wrong.
Personal finance software helps you create goals to keep better track of your saving and spending while keeping a healthy balance of the two. It’s a must for any family who wants to be smarter about their financial choices and find simple ways to cut costs and stash away more savings for the future. Here are the best budgeting software programs for your family.
You Need a Budget
YNaB is a popular choice because it monitors your expenses and income and it also supports you with financial literacy education—you can even sign up for online classes with a live instructor to support your efforts. YNaB is built on three rules to help you spend less and save more:
- Rule #1: Give every dollar a job — Each dollar in your budget needs a home and purpose, whether it’s going to monthly bills or into your savings account.
- Rule #2: Embrace your true expenses — Be consistent about your saving, and spread it to each one of your savings buckets, be it monthly phone bills, groceries, or even vacation funds.
- Rule #3: Roll with the punches — Be prepared for surprise necessary expenses and even allow for some unnecessary spending, too.
YNaB is a crowd favorite because of its easy-to-navigate design and unwavering support—an ‘accountability partner’ will warn you if you’ve gone outside of your budgeted goals. Pricing is $6.99 per month/ $83.99 per year.
The envelope budgeting system has been a go-to method for years as a successful way to visualize and stick to a budget. It required users to divvy up cash into separate envelopes for each of your category of expense (for example, one envelope for rent, one for bills, one for food, etc). Once the cash was gone, you couldn’t fund that category until the next month.
The Mvelopes personal budgeting software is the online update to this old technique. Each digital envelope turns red once your money for that category is gone. By separating your expenses by category, you get a bird’s eye view as to how each one is being used, which helps to avoid overspending.
Like YNaB, Mvelopes is Windows, Mac, and smartphone compatible. It syncs with all of your financial accounts for automatic tracking, but it also offers an alternative method for manually entering inputting your information.
Pricing here is flexible, since it’s a three-tiered subscription based on your needs. Here are the prices and highlights of each:
Mvelopes Basic – $4 per month or $40 per year
- Sync unlimited financial accounts to have all information in one easy-to-reach place
- Auto-syncing means you’ll always have a real-time update on available funds and never again spend what you don’t have
Mvelopes Plus – $19 per month or $190 per year
- Personal support to answer any questions and give financial advice
- Meet with a financial advisor four times a year for personalized financial feedback
Mvelopes Complete – $59 per month or $549 per year
- Monthly sessions with a one-on-one finance trainer to help you design and meet your goals
- Full access to all budgeting tools
If you’re on an especially tight budget, Mint might be the best option for your personal finance budgeting. That’s because this software program is completely free–just be aware that in return for a zero price tag, you’ll have to put up with some extra advertising.
Still, you’ll get all of the necessary features without the cost. You can sync with your bank and credit accounts and incorporate loans and investments, too, for a full financial overall view.
Mint will send you email or text alert reminders for bill payments, late fees, and rate changes, as well as warnings anytime you go over budget on a particular category. Mint will also give you the option to repeat transactions to simplify your expenses and ensure that you never fall behind schedule.
Besides the advertising that comes as a result of this program being free, some users complain that Mint creates certain budgets for you (for example, your monthly allowance for dining out based on your income). However, you can go back and edit these to suit your own needs.
No matter which plan or subscription best suits your needs, a budgeting program is a must for taking ownership of your expenses. With realistic planning and careful maintaining, you’ll have a healthier financial life, and richer savings for the future of your family—and that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.
Taylor McKinney is an Marketing Manager at TrustRadius, which has become the most trusted website for B2B software reviews. When she is not writing about the latest tools and small business trends she is enjoying Austin’s beautiful scenery with her husband and two kids.