Home > Arts, Science & Technology, Money Management > Budget Basics #3 – Budget Tools and Technology

Budget Basics #3 – Budget Tools and Technology

There are a multitude of technology tools you can use to create and monitor your budget.  I will be very upfront and tell you that I am not going to recommend you use a particular product or service.  I haven’t done enough research to consider myself and expert, nor do I have a vested interest in selling you a particular product.

Over the past 20 years, I have used two tools for my budget; a spreadsheet and Quicken. For the majority of the years, I simply used the spreadsheet.  Once I had the format down, it was easy to replicate each month/year. The transition to Quicken was motivated more by my desire to easily track my checking and savings accounts, than for budgeting, but it easily does both.

If you utilized a spreadsheet in coming up with your average spending for the past few months, you can probably modify it rather quickly into a monthly budget.  Excel also has a budget template you can download.  Want something a little more sophisticated?  Do a Google search for budget planner, software or worksheet and you’ll have a plethora of options to consider.  You can opt for software to download, or you may also consider using an online service. 

Here are four criteria I would consider in making your selection.

  • Inexpensive (or free) – since there are many great free options, I wouldn’t pay for it unless you want features beyond budgeting
  • Easy – technological difficulties will only make you like budgeting less, so if you’re having difficulty using something, find another product that works for you
  • Flexible – customization of categories and measurement is necessary to get you the information that is important to you
  • Reporting – reports, charts and graphs are helpful visual tools to see how your income and expenses are tracking

If you have an opinion regarding a particular product or service, I invite you to share your thoughts.   A reader, Suzie, suggested mint.com in a prior post.   Honestly, I had not heard of it before, so I’m glad she made the suggestion.  Maybe you can enlighten me and other readers as well.

Coming next in Budget Basics #4, we’ll discuss creating a monthly budget.

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