Budgeting Software: 13 Free Alternatives

woman using budgeting software

Completely Free Financial Budgeting Software

If you are reading this, maybe you finally realized that you need a budget. Or maybe you have been budgeting for a while, but you are looking for some free tools to simplify your budgeting. Either way, I think this page will have something to offer.

If you are just getting started budgeting I suggest reading an article I wrote called how to make a budget. It will walk you through a lot of the steps that I wish someone would have walked me through when I started.

Let me first mention the Envelope System of budgeting. This is the old faithful for many. It is recommended by Dave Ramsey and used by millions. I also use a modified version of it for my personal budgeting. You can read more about it… How to budget with ING Direct. And if you are an Excel junkie like I am, you may want to check out these 10 free household budget spreadsheets.

Free budgeting software

Free household budgeting tools

Some of these budgeting tools are online applications, some are downloadable software, some are for Windows, some are for Mac and Linux, some of them may have lots of bells and whistles, and some may be overly simplified. I suggest you dig through and see if what works for your budget. Every person is different, therefore every budget will be different. It may take some time to find what fits you best, but it is out there and if it isn’t create it and let me know about it!

Personal Capital

personal-capital-dashboard

The guys over at Personal Capital have done a great job at making online money management secure, beautiful, and very helpful. You can read more about their program in our Personal Capital review.

Mint.com

Pretty amazing online personal finance tool. They have won a ridiculous amount of awards for this free service. I would be using it myself, except that they still do not have an auto-import from my credit union. If it were not for that I would definitely be using them. You can watch the video below to learn more about them or visit the Mint.com website, or read our review of Mint.com.

Wesabe.com

They are similar to Mint with many of their features. They haven’t quite gotten as much fanfare as mint, but they still offer a great service. They are also an online tool that seems to have a secure method for keeping your financial information safe. You can watch a video tour below.

SimpleD Budgeting

An “open source Windows application designed for personal or household financial management.” The screenshots actually look pretty slick. It is free to use.

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Microsoft Office Accounting Express (DISCONTINUED)

A great free accounting and budgeting program geared more towards small businesses, but could be helpful for household budgets as well. Surprisingly it is absolutely free!

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Buddi

Free budgeting tool for Windows and Mac OS X.

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Budget On Web

Also more biz-oriented, it is a “free online system that integrates project management with contacts management and financial tools.” Manage your budget, schedules and contracts online. It integrates project management with contacts management and financial tools.

Up to 5mb of storage for free, if you need more than that you will have to pay. 5mb should be plenty for people using this for their household budgets. Business budgets may end up going beyond the 5mb limit.

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Budget 5000

It is another free online budgeting tool. It is simple to navigate and easy to use. The pro/con of it is that is an online tool, rather than downloadable software. The benefit, of course, is that you can access it from anywhere. The downside is that your budgeting info is on someone else’s server.

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Moneytrackin financial tool

A free online web application that lets you track all your expenses and income with another easy and user friendly interface

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Free-to-try budgeting software

Mvelopes

They offers a free 5-day budgeting eCourse, a free budgeting eBook, and a free trial. After the trial expires, they also charge a monthly fee like Pear Budget. For more info check out our Mvelopes review.

Free Budgeting E-course Free e-book

Mvelopes Personal Budget

Budget Ace

A free-to-try personal budgeting program that is very simplified and offers a minimal amount of features. To purchase it costs $9.99.

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Pear Budget

A very simple, easy, and pretty (think Apple) budgeting system. The user has to enter receipts into the program, but they make it seem fun. It is free to try and $3 a month to use.

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AceMoney Lite Budgeting

I am a little bit confused with these guys, they call themselves Freeware on their site, but when you download the software it says it is a trial version that is NOT free to use. So, I am calling this a Free-to-try version of an offline personal finance management program. It even downloads stock quotes from the Internet. This is basically a lighter version of Microsoft Money or Quicken. It is not nearly as flashy or sophisticated, but it offers some of the features the “big boys” offer for $30.

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Paid Budgeting Software

YNAB

YNAB stands for You Need a Budget and you can find their software at YouNeedABudget.com.

Here are a few features they mention on their site…

  • Split transactions with ease.
  • Track of all of your account balances in one simple interface.
  • Easily see a breakout of spending in a specific category.
  • Monitor your spending trends.
  • Compare spending of one category to another.
  • Easily employ the envelope budgeting method.
  • Enjoy the benefits of the YNAB Methodology built right in.

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Quicken

Quicken features

  • Bring all your personal finances together in one place
  • Get a snapshot of monthly spending, set savings goals and track your progress
  • Never miss a bill— stay on top of bills due and paid
  • Connect to online banking and credit card accounts with one password
  • Make tax time easier— capture all possible deductible expenses

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Microsoft Money

Money Features

  • Insights, now with customizable alerts
  • Bills Insights alert you when bills are overdue or due soon
  • Spending Insights keep on top of the spending you care about most
  • Cash Flow Insights gives you a fast convenient view of your spending and deposits, as well as your account balances
  • Attach links to important files such as check images or scanned receipts right from transactions in the Money account register

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If you know of any other free budgeting software or tools please share them in the comments!


















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38 Comments
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  1. Great summary! I’d like to point out that AceMoney Lite really is free, but it can manage only one account. If you need to manage multiple accounts, you have to get a full version on a free to try basis. Unlike the big boys products, every AceMoney license ($30) comes with free lifetime upgrades!

  2. What a great collection of free budgeting tools! I would like to respectfully point out that while Mvelopes and PearBudget Online charge a monthly subscription fee, Mvelopes’ fee is much higher than PearBudget’s. Mvelopes also has many more features, where PearBudget is more of a dedicated budgeting app. To use the Mvelopes free trial, you have to enter your credit card number and if you decide to cancel, do it within 30 days to avoid being charged. I have had reports of people having problems with being charged although they canceled on time. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but I’ve heard enough about it to be concerned.

    God bless your efforts with this blog!
    shelley

  3. Great article. Here is another free budgeting tool,

    http://www.pennyjobs.com/pp/public/Free%20Budgeting%20Tool.aspx

    This free online budgeting tool doesn’t have a trial period or anything to signup with or download.

  4. Fortora Fresh Finance, while not free, is a great alternative for those who are looking for an effective yet easy-to-use personal finance manager. And it works with both Mac and Windows PCs. http://www.fortora.com

  5. Mint.com is the most informative and helpful financial planning site on the web today. Much better than Intuit and more interactive.

    Another site I really like is http://www.chillmybills.com.

  6. also check out http://www.geezeo.com; a free personal online financial management tool where last year over half of users saved $100/month.

    Right now running The Great Geezeo Bailout! where users can win up to $6000!

  7. I will recommend using
    DesktopBudget.com
    Its the best offline personal finance manager I have seen
    up till now.

  8. Marcus

    I really like http://www.budgettoolkit.com. They have a long trial period
    (90 days last time I checked) so you can make sure that you will actually
    use the service. Expenses can be entered manually or you can upload your
    e-banking statements. It also handles split transactions, graphing,
    searches, etc. I personally managed to cut my monthly expenses by
    $210/month.

  9. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Mvelopes. I love the fact that it is a virtual envelope system that downloads all my transactions, lets me assign them with drop and drag or to split them up, and that it automatically takes any charges I make, and allots the budgeted money for any purchase into the corresponding “save for credit card payment” envelope, and has endless flexibility in creating envelopes. It isn’t perfect, but it works great for me. It doesn’t take the place of something like Quicken, but Quicken just doesn’t have the ability to budget so quickly and clearly.

  10. I use and recommend Moneydance (free to try, pay for license) which I find very effective. It’s comparable to quicken but without the bloat. It is much less expensive to purchase, has generous license terms (more than one user on on computer, or one user on several computers), and unlike quicken does not force you to upgrade every few years. Well worth serious consideration.

    Also, on the free side, take a look at GnuCash. A little more complicated than others, but free. Very capable, you could say it’s more geared to small business than home use.

  11. I found this great website http://www.budgetcactus.com I have so far used it to keep track of my budget and have paid off 6 of my credit cards! Their website makes it really easy to track things plus it’s built for the iPhone. Check it out! Oh and it’s 100% free, no ads or anything like that.

  12. The microsoft link is broken…try budget tracker, it is free

  13. We allow for both standard and envelope style budgeting. It also ties in with your Bills and Income that you can setup seperately so it will dynamically update your budget based on the bills and income recurrences you have setup.

  14. Tommy Bunce

    Just wanted to let you know I appreciate your site, but the link to the Mint.com video on YouTube is broken. Apparently the video has been removed due to a violation of content.
    Thanks,
    Tommy

  15. CityGirl

    I love mint.com for my personal budgeting and finance tracking. I’m using Outright.com to track all my freelance and business expenses. It’s pretty good for a very simple and easy to use solution for those of us who need to file a schedule C and pay taxes quarterly.

    PS. I hate quickbooks and quicken. Neither are Mac friendly or intuitive.

  16. Rebecca

    I wish I could use Mint. Their software is not compatible with my bank, because my bank uses a 3 step login process. It’s super annoying. Thanks for the other links though, I found a few to check out – right now I’m using an old version of quicken. I refuse to upgrade

  17. Gresford Thomas

    One overlooked budgeting system that I love is Buxfer (http://www.buxfer.com)

    It is very similiar to Mint but a feature that Buxfer has that is indispensable to me is the ability to add pending payments, deposits and transfers. There is also a synchronization feature that works with most major financial institutions. When the synchronization is run (which can be done offline), it clears your pending transactions once your bank records them.

    This site has helped me keep a day to day record of what is going on in my accounts. Tracking your transactions is free and there is a built in budgeting feature that is free for the first 5 categories and a nominal monthly fee to add more categories.

    Check it out!

  18. A friend told me about this little free online budgeting and expense tracking website which I have used for about 9 month now and find it simply too good to be free. It’s simple to use, very functional and it is completely anonymous which means that I do not need to give out my personal identity or bank account access information. It’s called Out Of The Dark at:

    http://www.myootd.org

    Happy budgeting.

  19. AceMoney Lite was updated a couple of days ago, it is still free and now can manage two accounts instead of one. A possibility to automatically download transactions from the banks and credit cards to the software is priceless: no manual entry means no errors. I don’t know any other absolutely free package that has so many features.
    http://www.mechcad.net/products/acemoney/index_lite.shtml

  20. I’m trying to get the hang on Mint, but one thing I’m just not figuring out is how to actually use it for budgeting. I want a breakdown of how much I’m spending in different areas and I just don’t see it. I entered that I do not have a credit card and it pops up that I’m spending $1800 a month with my credit card I don’t have? I used Microsoft Money many years ago and I could at the click of a button see how much I was spending on pet care, or groceries, or rent/mortgage or entertainment… (I absolutely HATED future versions of Money and quit bothering when I couldn’t “downgrade” back to my old faithful, I think it was ’97?) With Mint I don’t see how it can be used to create or stick with a budget at all. Am I missing something?

  21. OK, so I found the “Trends” tab, and I see this taking several months of manual editing before a true picture will emerge. :/

  22. I need a software program which can, as each paycheck comes in, automatically divide my paycheck into budget allocation categories I’ve designated for that time (or take left-overs and deposit them into an “envelope” chosen for this). I’m not that good paying attention to after-the-fact “alerts,” and I’d like to streamline the process of manually allocating things myself.

    Any ideas?

  23. Carolyn

    I just came across your blog recently. I enjoyed your article on making money on your blog (which I hope to start soon!). I also just spent my morning setting up my my budget on mint.com.

    Thanks so much for all the advice.

  24. http://budgetable.com looks really promising. Anyone got an invite yet?

  25. Try Home budget box http://www.homebudgetbox.com . It is an easy, free and a rich GUI application which enables you to manage your incomes, expenses and transfers. It is in beta phase for two more weeks but after that it is fully live. Give it a try and please give us suggestions and comments about it

  26. Samean

    I currently am with yodlee.com to manage all my accounts on one page as well as budgeting. I love it over mint.com.

  27. Try my Quick Budget at http://www.justapps.com. It is really easy. There are 3 tabs in the program. On the first tab you enter all of your incomes and how often they occur. On the second tab you enter all of your expenses and how often they occur. The third tab then automatically shows you how your money situation in date order if you stick with the income & expenses that you entered.

  28. YNAB ought to be moved to the free-to-try section. They offer a 34-day full-featured free download.

    As a side note, I started working with Mvelopes yesterday and am ready to give it up. Part of the problem is that my credit union doesn’t sync well with the system, and part seems to be that the Mvelopes interface is not very well designed. Navigation is difficult, the free version has info bubbles that totally obscure very important buttons, and once you leave the account management screen it is difficult to return without logging out and back in. I suspect they may have recently redesigned the site and are still working out bugs, but it’s still very sloppy even for that. The terms of the free version are NOT explained well anywhere.

  29. Another free program that is very similar to MS Money or Quicken is called GnuCash (www.gnucash.org) its open source software that started on Linux but now been ported to both Windows and Mac.

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