10 Budgeting Tools You'll Love

Young African business man standing relaxed and secure with jacket over shoulder and money in hand isolated
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Have you been putting off budgeting because it seems overly complex -- or just plain annoying?

It's OK; you can 'fess up. You wouldn't be the first person to shirk this basic money management strategy because you just don't feel like dealing with it. You're looking for tools and tactics that can make budgeting as easy as possible.

Luckily, there are a slew of great tools out there to help even the most budget-averse person feel at-home tracking their cash flow. Let's take a look at 10 of the best -- and what each has to offer.

1. BudgetPulse

Cost: Free.

Method of input: Manual or via file import.

Those who worry about online security will like the fact that BudgetPulse doesn't link to your bank accounts like other tools; it gives you the option to either enter this data manually or import it via computer file (like Quicken or CSV).

Once your data is entered, you can view spending allocation charts, set savings goals for yourself, and even share your goals via social media for extra accountability.

2, BudgetSimple

Cost: Free (for web app); $4.99/month (for mobile app or for the ability to link to bank accounts).

Method of input: Manual or linked to bank accounts.

Create a realistic, sustainable budget that works for your life with this tool, which analyzes your current financials and provides you with a suggested budget. It also recommends ways you can cut costs and boost your savings.

3. BudgetTracker

Cost: Free.

Method of input: Manual or linked to bank accounts.

Get a firm grip on your cash flow with this tool, which gives you lots of different ways to track your individual transactions. Tell the tool the specific details you want to track -- or choose a customized application already created by other users-to get only the information you need.

4. Buxfer

Cost: Free (for basic features); $3.99/month (for Plus access); $4.99 (for Pro access).

Method of input: Manual or linked to bank accounts.

Specializing in budgeting and tracking for shared expenses, this tool is great if you're running a household budget, managing funds for a group or club, or tracking reimbursements for a small business. It's also good for focused budgeting, like planning for a vacation or family event.

5, GnuCash

Cost: Free.

Method of input: Manual or linked to bank accounts.

Whatever platform you prefer to work on, GnuCash is likely compatible with it -- it can even import those weird QIF and OFX files banks tend to use when sending you electronic statements and reports. Based on professional accounting principles, it's great for those who have trouble keeping their books straight.

6. Mint

Cost: Free.

Method of input: Manual or linked to bank accounts.

One of the highest-praised free budgeting tools out there, Mint links not only to your bank accounts, but also to your credit cards, investments and other financial accounts. It sorts your transactions into categories for you and warns you when you're about to go over or when it senses unusual spending. Simple, intuitive and automatic, this tool often lands on "top budgeting tool" lists.

7. MoneyDance

Cost: Free for 100 transactions; $49.99 to purchase after that.

Method of input: Via file import or linked to bank accounts.

Set up like a check register, MoneyDance lets you coordinate multiple kinds of financial transactions. Set up recurring payment reminders, track investments, even print checks. It's a great overview for those who want all-in-one money management capability.

8. Mvelopes

Cost: Free (for basic features); $95/year (for Premier access); customized personal coaching packages also available.

Method of input: Linked to bank accounts.

Based on Dave Ramsey's famous envelope system, this tool lets you see at a glance how much you've budgeted in each category and how much you've spent so far. Link it to your bank accounts, credit cards, even PayPal to track all your spending in a way the old-school envelope system would never be able to.

9. PowerWallet

Cost: Free.

Method of input: Manual or linked to bank accounts.

Stay on track and plan for the future with this tool, which not only tracks your transactions, but also offers features like bill due date alerts and personalized deals based on your location and spending habits.

10. You Need a Budget

Cost: Free for 34 days; $60 to purchase after that.

Method of input: Manual or via file import.

Perfect for those with irregular income or trouble making their paychecks stretch, YNAB is an entirely different way of approaching budgeting. It's a flexible, "living budget" that lets you deal with cash flow ups and downs and roll with the punches of sudden expenses. It also offers tons of courses and tutorials to help you finally get off the paycheck-to-paycheck roller coaster.

Paula Pant ditched her 9-to-5 job in 2008. She's traveled to 32 countries, owns seven rental units and runs a business from her laptop. Her blog, Afford Anything, is a gathering spot for revolutionaries who understand that they can afford anything -- just not everything. Visit Afford Anything to learn how to crush limits, create wealth and live life on your own terms.
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