The road to wealth is paved with skillful money management, as well as planning and executing a personal budget. Now that you’ve decided to buckle down and start sticking to a budget, you’ll need to find the budget planning program that works best for you. Do your homework and compare costs and features of various programs to find one that you can really work with.
Whether you have a Mac or a PC, chances are you probably have Microsoft Excel, a popular spreadsheet program used for various tasks, including budget planning. The drawback to Excel is that it may be somewhat time-consuming to set up a budgeting spreadsheet, depending on how familiar you are with the program. Fortunately, there’s a way around setting up all those Excel equations by simply downloading one of the many free budgeting spreadsheet templates available through Microsoft’s website. All you’ll have to do is input your financial information, and Excel will do the math for you.
Quicken touts itself as “America’s #1 Personal Finance Software,” and it's available for both Mac and PC users. Quicken finance software is available in four versions: Deluxe, Premier, Home & Business and Rental Property Manager. Quicken will help you organize and categorize your bills while creating a budget based on your income and expenses.
Two budgeting programs are available from Centage: Budget Maestro and Planning Maestro. Both programs are designed for business budgeting and planning. Budget Maestro is geared toward smaller businesses, with features including budgeting, forecasting, consolidating and reporting. Larger businesses will benefit more from Planning Maestro, which helps determine areas of business that yield the most profitability and offers suggestions for continued success.
Mint is an online program that takes all the work out of budget planning. The features offered through Mint’s program include detailed expense tracking and goal management, as well as the pinpointing of areas where you can reduce your spending. It will also locate better deals on credit card rates to help you keep your expenses to a minimum. While the program offers many features, its most attractive benefit is that it’s completely free. A mobile version lets iPhone and Android users take their budgets wherever they go.
Budget Pulse is another free online budgeting program allowing you to organize your finances all in one place and visualize your spending through graphs and charts. The program enables you to track goals and determine how to reduce your expenses. If you're saving for a specific event like a wedding or trip, you can share your goals with friends through the Savings Goal Requests email feature, enabling them to donate to help you reach your goal.
Based in South Florida, Leann Harms has been writing since 2008. Her design, technology, business and entertainment articles have appeared in "Design Trade" magazine and Web sites including eHow. Harms has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida Atlantic University.