It's that time of year again! Stores have already started bombarding us with ads for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. It's easy to get caught up and end up overspending. Luckily there are a lot of great resources out there to help you budget for the Holiday season and beyond. Of course, you can always use Excel, but if you want to try something else, here are some helpful tools.
CalendarBudget is a free cloud-based software that is exactly as described in the name. It's a calendar where you set up a budget and enter expenses daily. It's bare bones but might be a good option for someone looking for something free or someone just getting started on budgeting.
Every Dollar is Dave Ramsey's web-based budgeting program. Ramsey, the financial guru behind Financial Peace University, preaches paying down debt and operating with cash, using this method:
- Save $1,000 emergency fund.
- Pay off all debt using the snowball method.
- Save 3–6 months of expenses.
- Save 15% for retirement.
- Start a college fund for the kids.
- Pay off the house.
- Build wealth and give.
The Every Dollar program allows you to set up a budget with the idea that you allot "every dollar" to a specific category. The basic version is free and a premium version called EveryDollar Plus is available for $99/year. The premium version includes phone help and allows you to connect with your bank to import transactions. In the free version, you have to enter transactions manually. Available for iOS and Android.
GoodBudget uses the same zero sum idea as EveryDollar. In this web-based system, you set up categories or "Envelopes" for your budget. Once you've created your categories, you enter your transactions, and categorize them according the envelopes you set up. The basic system is free but you are limited to 20 total envelopes and 1 year of history. The Plus plan is $45/ year and includes unlimited envelopes and five years of history. However, neither version offers the ability to sync with your accounts. Available for iOS and Android.
Mint is probably the best known online budgeting system, and one of the most popular because it's free. Created by the makers of Quicken and TurboTax, Mint allows syncing to bank accounts. You can also monitor investments and and see your credit score. Available for iOS, Android.
This is my personal favorite, and the one that I use. YNAB is a web-based system that also works on the "zero sum" budget. You set up categories and budget all your funds. The website has many excellent video how-tos and it allows syncing with your accounts for $84 a year. Available for iOS and Android.