Having a detailed plan for your money is the key to getting out of debt, building savings, and achieving your financial goals. If you want to win with money, you need to be budgeting every month. If you’re married, you need to be doing this with your spouse because so many critical discussions come up when money is the subject.
We live in wondrous technological times, so budgeting is easier than ever. This week, I want to share with you three online budgeting programs that I’ve tried and found useful in my own financial journey.
You Need a Budget
My husband and I have been budgeting with You Need a Budget (YNAB) for several years, and I can say without hesitation it is my go-to budgeting program. YNAB’s four-rule framework makes budgeting accessible to the uninitiated, but the software is robust enough for the power user. A friend of mine who started using YNAB said the program makes him feel like he can “see into the future,” which is a powerful thing in a world of uncertainty. Want to go even deeper into YNAB’s four rules? The software’s creator recently released a book that will help you understand how to prioritize what’s important to you so you can gain total control of your money. YNAB is free to try for 34 days, but it’s well worth the subscription fee if you end up getting good results from it.
Nobody has done more to lead people out of debt and change their financial habits than Dave Ramsey. His seven baby steps can help anybody improve their money situation, and his Financial Peace University class is the most accessible and comprehensive personal finance class I’ve ever seen. His company, Ramsey Solutions, has created its own budgeting software called EveryDollar. EveryDollar is easy to use, beautiful to look at, and includes both free and paid versions to get you started understanding how to make a plan for your money. This might be the most user-friendly online budgeting tool I’ve found, so it’s a great place to start.
Mvelopes takes the tried-and-true envelope system and has created an online platform that promises to help you simplify your finances and fix your bad money habits for good. Mvelopes offers a free trial, but they employ a three-tiered subscription model that costs between $4 to $79 per month. Unlike YNAB and EveryDollar, Mvelopes includes an option to work with a “Personal Finance Trainer,” so this may be a good option for people who need an accountability partner or somebody to help them develop and stick to a financial plan.
Even though I prefer to run my budget with the help of software, don’t let making a decision become the factor that keeps you from actually diving in and taking control of your finances. Budgeting is not rocket science; whether you use a yellow legal pad, an Excel spreadsheet, or one of the resources listed above, the important thing is actually doing it.