When you want to start planning and tracking your personal budget, the task could seem a bit tedious to do by hand. Plenty of budgeting software applications are available, but features, complexity and costs vary widely. Start by trying out some of the most common, then narrow down your selection from there.
Mainstream financial management software is the type of software often found pre-installed on personal computers or available for sale at major retail stores. Among the most well-known are Microsoft Money and Quicken. Both of these software applications offer a sophisticated suite of personal money management tools, including budget planning and tracking. Software suites such as these help you plan for long-term budgeting goals such as retirement, by walking you through the planning process and helping you define spending limits so that you can set aside extra money to meet your goals.
Budgeting software from independent developers is available online and sometimes varies drastically from mainstream applications. Most software from small developers focuses on doing one thing well instead of providing a suite of tools. You Need A Budget (YNAB), for example, is software designed to help you manage your daily and monthly income and expenses using a virtual envelope-style budgeting system. This helps you to avoid overspending in your daily life, which frees up funds for other short-term or long-term needs you may have.
Online budgeting tools are popular because they provide mobility. You can manage all your bank accounts, bills and budgeting from anywhere you have access to the Internet. Mint.com is an online application that helps you set and track budgeting goals with multiple bank accounts. Mvelopes is is an online variation of envelope budgeting that also includes multiple account tracking and automated bill payments.
Spreadsheet applications aren't generally considered budgeting software, but many people prefer the simplicity. Using spreadsheet templates gives you more flexibility in planning and tracking your budget, because you can customize them to your personal needs. Budget templates for common spreadsheet software can be found online, or you can start your own template from scratch.
Kathy Burns-Millyard has been a professional writer since 1997. Originally specializing in business, technology, environment and health topics, Burns now focuses on home, garden and hobby interest articles. Her garden work has appeared on GardenGuides.com and other publications. She enjoys practicing Permaculture in her home garden near Tucson, Ariz.