5 Finance Management Apps And Sites For Your Desktop
Last week we showed you how you can control your finances from your smartphone. But what if you need more powerful tools, or want to see a bigger picture of your financial state on your computer? For some of us, creating an entire budget out of a blank Excel sheet is too daunting. Or maybe it looks like too much work. We’ve rounded up 5 finance management apps and sites, so you can finally start that budget you’ve been meaning to for so long now, see how your investments are doing, or even do a little online fundraising.
You Need A Budget (desktop app, Mac and Windows — $60; free for college students; 34-day free trial available)
If you’re a newbie to the world of personal finance management, check out You Need A Budget (YNAB). This desktop software takes you through the process of making a budget, explaining why it is important for you to give every peso a purpose, be it savings, bill payments, or shopping. You can take your budget from your computer to your smartphone using the free iOS and Android apps.
It also has in-app and video tutorials to help new users understand the YNAB method of saving, and how to use the software. And for those who need even more help with their budget, the app offers free online classes ranging from ‘Getting Started with YNAB’ to ‘Budget Workshop’, an interactive class in which participants create their own budget under the guidance of a coach. Even if you don’t buy the app, you can still take the free online classes from their website.
YNAB is geared towards people new to budgeting, who are trying to get out of debt, or who want to get out of the vicious paycheck to paycheck cycle. This isn’t for you if you’re already doing well and want to increase your income through investments. You’ll also need to be disciplined enough to enter all your expenses and incomes manually. It takes effort, but once you’re used to it, it can get you well on your way to financial security.
BudgetPulse (web — free)
Do you hold fundraisers, or have public savings goals you’d like to invite people to contribute to? BudgetPulse can handle this for you. This site lets you set up an account to collect and raise money easily — you set up an online fundraising goal (such as for travel expenses for your local sports teams, a party you’re holding, or even for any non-profit organization), email your page to friends, family, and colleagues, who can then send you money directly through PayPal. They can also view the progress of your goal so they know when you achieve your target.
Besides this, the web app lets you manage your budget and financial accounts. It’s easy to set up, so those making their first budgets won’t be too intimidated. You’ll have to enter all expenses manually, but once you’ve set it up, it should only take you a few minutes a day to update.
You can set private savings goals as well; charts show your saving progress and how much you contribute over time, and the site lets you know if you’re on track to save by your target date.
BudgetPulse is for those new to expense tracking and are looking for a free solution to their budgeting woes, and those who hold public fundraisers every once in a while.
PocketSmith (web — free for Basic; $9.95/mo for Premium; $19.95/mo for Super)
Don’t you wish you could see the future of your finances? PocketSmith lets you do that. It’s a calendar for your finances that lets you set financial goals and track your progress over time.
It analyzes your spending and projects your future balances based on your budgeting scenarios. You schedule your upcoming payments and budgets in the calendar, and the app automatically updates your cash-flow statements for you. You get graphs for your spending, a monthly cash flow chart showing balance by month, a goals tracking tool, and the cash flow calendar, all in your browser.
The free Basic account lets you have 12 budgets, 2 accounts, 6 months of projection and 3 months of history. Premium gives you unlimited budgets, 10 accounts, and 10 years of projection. Super gives you all that and 30 years of projection. You can change your plan any time.
PocketSmith is good for people who want a budgeting system different from the usual Excel spreadsheet method of finance management, and who prefer a more visual interface for where their money is going. If you want a calendar overview of when you can finally pay off your mortgage, or how long until you can take that trip to Europe you’ve been saving up for, then check this app out.
Moneydance (desktop app, Mac and Windows — $50 one-time payment; free for first 100 transactions)
If you’re already good at budgeting, have investments to keep track of, and your needs go beyond regular expense tracking, give Moneydance a try. This financial management application can view stocks, bonds, and the rest of your investment portfolio. It also has calculators for loans, mortgages, and home refinancing, so you can see if you can afford that new condo you’ve had your eye on. You can also install extensions such as an Investment Profit Calculator, Stock Price Updater, or a Credit Card Payoff Calculator, depending on your needs.
Regular users can still get a lot of use out of Moneydance, with features such as bill reminders, spending graphs, and account registers, and income and expense reports. There’s a free mobile app so users can update their accounts on the go.
Moneydance is good for people who are already experts at expense tracking, or those who need information on how their investments are doing. If you’re still not sure, you can take the app for a spin; it’s free until you’ve entered 100 transactions.
BudgetTracker (web — free for Limited; $3.95/mo for Standard; $4.95/mo for Family; $14.95/mo for Business)
Those of you who also run a small business should check out BudgetTracker. Its Business Section can keep track of invoices, product inventory, tax deductions, balance sheets, and more. Even if you don’t, its free version is still a solid budgeting system, allowing you to track your stock portfolio and even PayPal accounts. You can set recurring incomes and payments, create budgets, and forecast your income. The app also gives an amortization schedule of your credit cards or bills so you can determine when that item will get paid off with the interest added in each month. The Family and Business accounts allow you to share your budget with other people, so you and your spouse can both see your finances, or your employees can see the business’s budget.
BudgetTracker is good for small business owners who want to get a better handle on their finances, but the free version is also good for beginners who want a web-based budgeting solution.