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8 Best Budgeting and Personal Finance Tools

Laura reviews eight of the best personal finance tools to make sense of your money, stay organized, and achieve your financial goals.

By
Laura Adams, MBA,
Episode #560
8 Best Budgeting and Personal Finance Tools

Taking control of your personal finances is simple in theory. But if you’re struggling with budgeting, saving, or investing, trying a new tool may be the ticket to making better decisions and improving your success.

Here are eight of the best personal finance tools to make sense of your money, stay organized, and achieve your financial goals.

8 Best Budgeting and Personal Finance Tools

  1. Quicken
  2. Mint
  3. Excel or Google Sheet
  4. YNAB
  5. Personal Capital 
  6. Acorns
  7. Betterment
  8. Online bill pay

Keep reading to learn more about each of these budgeting and personal finance tools.

1. Quicken

Quicken has been around a long time and is considered the gold standard in personal finance software. They have a suite of products that connect to multiple types of accounts, such as banks, credit cards, lenders, and investments, to aggregate your transactions.

Like many companies, they’ve moved to a subscription model where you pay an annual fee and get automatic updates for new features and services.

The Starter version gives you a lot, including automatic expense categorization, limited budget tracking, and a bill dashboard, for $35 per year. Upgrading to Deluxe ($50) or Premier ($75) gives you the Starter features plus customizable budgeting, loan tracking, investment tracking and analysis, bill pay, and online backup.

You can use Quicken on your PC or Mac, but PC users can also get a Home & Business version for $100 per year. It helps you manage a small business or freelance work by separating personal and business expenses, emailing custom invoices with payment links, and tracking business tax deductions.

You can enter transactions manually into Quicken if you don’t want to connect to your financial accounts online. And there are Quicken mobile apps to sync up with your desktop version, although you can’t see all your data.

Quicken has far more features than I’ll ever use, but it’s my favorite way to manage money. Every week I import new transactions and make sure they’re categorized correctly, especially those related to taxes, so I can easily create reports at tax time.

2. Mint

Mint is one of the original web-based personal finance management programs. It’s free to sign up and connect your financial accounts, such as a bank, credit card, loans, and investments through an easy-to-use dashboard.  

Once Mint aggregates your transactions, you can easily categorize them, create a budget, and even set up automatic bill payments. You can set alerts for unusual charges, create goals, and even get a free credit score.

The Mint mobile app has a lot of functionality, allowing you to check account balances and monthly budgets. But the downside to most free financial apps is that you’ll see lots of ads.

Plus, users sometimes complain about not being able to connect Mint with all their financial institutions. However, I haven’t used a personal finance tool that doesn’t experience some connectivity glitch from time to time.

3.  Excel or Google Sheets

If you know how to use spreadsheets, you may find that Excel or Google Sheets is all you need to stay on top of your money. One way I use Excel is to update my Personal Financial Statement, which lists my major assets and liabilities and calculates my net worth. I also have an amortization spreadsheet to track loan payments on a real estate investment I own.

Excel is part of the Microsoft suite of products, which costs about $150. Or you can get it by subscribing to Office 365 for about $70 per year.

Google Sheets is a free cloud-based service with online sharing features. With Excel or Sheets you can enter simple formulas to add up rows or columns, create charts and graphs for a customized picture of your finances, and export data to a variety of popular formats, such as PDF.

Check out a service called Tiller that aggregates your financial transactions into Google Sheets. Tiller offers several free templates, such as an expense tracker, a business spreadsheet, and a build-your-own spreadsheet.

Tiller gives users 30 days for free and then charges $59 per year. It looks like they’re rolling out a beta product for Excel users as well. If you enjoy spreadsheets, using them with Tiller is probably the most customizable financial tool you’ll find.

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