There has been a lot of media buzz and recurring sound bytes about budgeting lately, and how our national budget is –for lack of a better phrase-- out of whack. Regardless of your political viewpoint, I think we can all agree that having a balanced household budget is crucial. Without an effective budget, you’ll overspend, not save enough (if at all) and your entire financial life comes crashing down around your ears –hardly a pretty picture.
When it comes to budgeting, there are million different classes, resources and ‘thing-a-ma-jigs’ out there to help you, but I will give you my top five no muss, no fuss budget solutions.
This is a simple, easy to use does-it-all-for-you online budgeting solution. I have used it and can't say enough good things about it. Mint.com offers a straightforward interface that synchs up with your bank account, creating an instant budget on your behalf. From there, you customize and monetize with a few well placed mouse clicks. If you go over budget in any area, mint alerts you via email or SMS. They also have recommendations for financial planning, retirement, savings and more in simple, straightforward comparisons. This is a great tool for the novice budget-maker and advanced financial tactician. Better yet, it's 100 percent FREE online and includes a downloadable app for your smartphone.
For those of you who may be a little leery about using online budget and money management resources, my second choice is this software. Although, this is probably best suited for the beginner level budget crafter in the family, it's both effective and straightforward.
Quicken is a name that many consumers know and trust. This starter edition for budget management also let's you download your banking transactions, completing much of the set up process for you with a few keyboard strokes. This is a full financial suite of tools, perfect for consumers who carry debt and investments as well.
Similar to Budget Express 3.0, this is a different --and yet still effective-- financial management suite.
Say what you will about the "For Dummies" series, but it is a good solution for many folks just starting down the road of budgeting and financial management. What I like most about this series is that it takes consumers on a step-by-step method for using software they already have on their computer, crafting spreadsheets and financial documents with a few mouse clicks. With a price tag of $4.49, this is probably also the most cost effective recommendation on my list (save Mint.com)
Of course, I'm always open to hearing about your experiences with budgeting tools and management software. If there is a solution out there that you love, and would like to tell me about it, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, happy pinching!