Unless you’re independently wealthy, we all have a limited amount of money to go around each month. Without paying attention, you can easily run out of money before you run out of things you need to spend it on.
That’s where a budget comes in. For quite a long time, we used Microsoft Money or Quicken to keep track of what we had in our checking and savings accounts, but we never really did a budget.
I ended up creating a spreadsheet for us to track what we spent on groceries, eating out, fuel, and other things. We used this method for a while.
When Quicken recently decided to start making yearly updates, I decided it was time to start looking again at all my options. I wanted something that had the following features:
- We could enter transactions on a mobile device and it would sync up with the desktop software.
- It had to track both the budget and the amount in our accounts so we only had to enter a transaction in one place.
- The budget amounts had to roll over from month to month. A lot of programs have a “budget”, but it resets at the beginning of each month back to $0.
- I didn’t want to have to buy it again each year to get the latest features.
After some research, the product that best fit what we were looking for was You Need A Budget. It took a little while to make the conversion, but after using it for over 3 months I’ve been very happy with it. I’ll point out some of the highlights below:
- Mobile Application – The mobile application is great. It doesn’t have all the features of the desktop software, but it downloads and syncs the budget and transactions so you can see them anywhere. When you enter in a transaction, it can track where you are using the phone GPS so the next time you enter a transaction in the same place, it will automatically fill out all the fields except for the amount.
- Budget – The budget comes preloaded with some common categories, but you can add and delete them to meet your needs.
- Online and Email Courses – Along with buying the software, you can enroll in a number of the classes they have to offer. Some of them are online and some are email courses where they send you new information each day to read through. These are includes at no additional cost.
- Support – Got a question? Just send them an email. You can try emailing them before you buy the product to see how responsive they are. They also have forums where users can post questions and answers on how they use the software.
- Backup and Syncing – The software uses DropBox to sync between different devices. This also means that you’ve always got a backup of your budget in the cloud if something happens.
While the software seems complicated, it’s actually very simple and flexible. The budget screen allows you to divide your money each month to the different categories. You’ve also got the account registers. When you enter a transaction into a budgeted account, you will pick the budget category the transaction goes against. The budget immediately updates to show the new amount available.
Everyone makes mistakes and overspends from time to time, and the software makes it very easy to move money from one budget category to another. If you can’t do that, it will simply reduce the money you have to budget next month to cover the overspending.
If you’re on the fence about doing a budget, or using software to manage it, they offer a 34 day trial to get you started. When you’re ready to buy you can get 10% off of You Need A Budget through this link: http://ynab.refr.cc/NG5M8W2 (Full Disclosure: I’ll earn $6 for the referral somehow if you use the link.)
Do you have a budget? How do you manage your budget? Do you have any question about how to use You Need A Budget? Let me know if the comments!
3 Comments Add yours
Adam – Good blog post! I notice you recommend one of Dave Ramsey’s books. I’m curious if you’ve tried Dave Ramsey’s EVERY DOLLAR BUDGET tool. If so, what are your thoughts?
I looked at it and tried it briefly. It didn’t really meet my needs. If I remember right, it pulls in your transactions and you then categorize then into the right budget categories. I’m not a fan because I like to enter a transaction right away so I know how much I have in an account. When it takes days or a week for something to post, I’d likely forget what it was I bought and what category it should go under. YNAB also let’s me track savings accounts and other miscellaneous accounts all in one place. After Every Dollar evolves a bit, it might be a perfect. I love the fact that it’s online based. I was actually considering developing a YNAB-like budget and account register that was completely online, but I’m not sure if it’s something people would be interested in. Thanks for commenting!