There is an abundance of free personal finance software out there and while it can be a challenge to find the best one, it is a good problem to have. We are becoming more of an open-source world, where you can find all kinds of great programs and software for free. If you are looking specifically for budgeting software, you should check out these 10 free budgeting software downloads.
If you would prefer a FREE money management tool, Personal Capital is definitely worth checking out. Or read our Personal Capital Review.
I do my budgeting with ING Direct and use a few of these programs once in a while to do checkups, but don’t consistently use any of them. I have tried out and played with quite a few of the free personal finance tools and most of them have some strengths and weaknesses depending on what you are looking to use it for. For example, some tools are better at helping you stay on track with your budget and others offer a bigger picture of your personal finances. It just kind of depends on what it is you are looking for – but thankfully, there are a bunch of options to choose from!
YNAB (stands for ‘You Need a Budget’) is a relatively new personal finance software. But even though they have only been on the scene a few years, their owners constantly are improving it and adding new features. YNAB3 is the newest version and according to their Amazon rating it is one of the best budgeting software packages out there. Notice I said “budgeting” software – while YNAB is a great budgeting software, it may or may not qualify as an all-around personal finance software because of it’s specific focus on budgeting.
Generally when you think of personal finance software Quicken and Microsoft Money come to mind…
Quicken is probably the most popular personal finance software available today. It has been around for almost 25 years and they have made many improvements over the years. The nice thing about Quicken is it’s ability to bring all your financial info into one place – it is more of an all-encompassing financial software. While it is not nearly as good of a budgeting software as YNAB3 is (in my opinion), it offers a wider range of features and options.
It seems like Microsoft has dropped the ball a little bit with Money. While Quicken is constantly putting out new versions (the 2010 version is already available) Microsoft has basically backed out of creating personal finance software. Older versions are still available to purchase, but it will likely be difficult to find support for the products. But, just like Quicken, Microsoft Money is designed to give you a full picture of your financial situation and has tons of features that go beyond just budgeting.
Mvelopes is another software option that focuses on the budgeting side. It doesn’t quick provide the full picture that Quicken and Money do, but it is a great budgeting tool. One of the nice features of Mvelopes is that it is a subscription-based service – which is nice because you can try it out for a couple of months and it will cost only a fraction of the upfront cost of most other software. If it isn’t working for you, you can quit without wasting too much much money, and if it is working, then it will likely be paying for itself many times over by having your money properly budgeted. They also have a free trial offer for those looking to check it out.
Some free personal finance software options
GNUcash is personal and small-business financial-accounting software, freely licensed under the GNU GPL and available for GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. It allows you to track bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses. As quick and intuitive to use as a checkbook register, it is based on professional accounting principles to ensure balanced books and accurate reports.
AceMoneyLite is a freeware personal finance manager. It has all the features of its AceMoney (the shareware version that costs $30) except multiple accounts management.
Financial Fate – It is a long-range financial planning software designed for the do-it-yourselfer. It is a cash-flow driven system and is fully automated.
What’s your favorite?
So, if you wouldn’t mind I would love to get your opinion as to what you think the best personal finance software is! Below I have created a poll of just about every free personal finance software or tool that I could find. Some of them are extremely popular and others are extremely obscure, but I want to know what you use and find to be the best!
(If you are reading this in your email or RSS, you will probably have to click the title of this article to access the poll)
Comparing them against each other
If you have had experience with a couple of them together, or switched from one software to another for a particular reason, please share it in the comments. As I mentioned before, everyone has different reasons for using different software apps, so what may not work for me, may work for you and vice versa.
Also, In the forums there has been quite an informative discussion about Mint vs. Quicken Online that you may want to check out if you are interested in either of those free tools.
Yay for Mint! Looks like its topping the vote there.
I use mint, coming from using nothing at all and if I were to compare those two, well lets just say its a landslide to Mint.
I have tried a few of the others including Wasabe, Geezeo and Rudder.
I would say Mint is the easiest to use and the prettiest.
Wasabe has some cool compare features, comparing companies and peoples spending on those companies, such as a groups spending on cell phones. You can shop providers this way. They also have a cool forum.
Todd Colucy says
I’d say it depends on what your objective is. For budgeting, I love google docs as I can access my budget anywhere I have an internet connection.
For month-to-month expense and checkbook types of tracking I use quicken online.
Getting people to track their spending at all is a major step forward in winning financially. So just by picking any of the above software on your list is a win.
Wm Tanksley says
I’ve tried, at least briefly, all the free ones you list… I like most of them for one feature or another, but I’ve stuck with Buxfer because it’s the only one that supports CSV import (Wesabe has been talking about it for years now). If your bank isn’t directly supported (my main account is a brokerage money market account), you can still get your data input reasonably easily.
I’m very impressed with their brand new budgeting interface and Projection Report, though; even if I wasn’t stuck with it, I think I’d choose it now.
Mint is still (I’d say) the simplest to get working — it’s really smooth. Wesabe has a great attitude towards customer privacy, but Buxfer now provides all the same protections, and has vastly higher development speed (new, useful features are fairly common).
Best is YNAB.
Excel is NOT FREE! FYI.
MINT works best if:
1) you spend primarily via credit cards/debit cards that can pinpoint where you spent. if you spend cash or checks, it will just register them as ATM or check and you will have to figure out what you spent it on (too timeconsuming, IMO).
2) you have lots of online experience and are willing to hook up all your accounts into one (security confidence). if you want a complete financial profile for yourself, it’s best to link up everything (credit cards, bank accounts, 401ks, IRAs, brokerages, etc.). this takes some time and some online tech saavy.
but if you do 1 and 2, MINT ROCKS!!! i can easily see where my spending is going. i can easily see where i am overbudget and what’s left to save. i can see my retirement accounts grow (and shrink!). they will send you email alerts when you are overbudget and let you know when certain big payments (mortgages, credit card bills) are due. they let you know how you compare with others in your geographical area. they also let you see how your investments compare to the indexes.
thanks for sharing pochax –
oh and Tyler – you are right – good point
caveat with mint – there are a lot of complaints (including mine) due to access problems with accounts. If you do have trouble accessing an account there is little to no support to get accounts back on-line with mint.com. The on-again, off-again access is really a problem if you use mint.com. If you don’t want to become as frustrated as I am with this site, don’t start using it. Find something else.
Well Written!nice piece of work with lot of useful information…it helps thank
Excel isn’t free, but spreadsheets can be through software or services like OpenOffice or Google Docs thankfully. So yea, Excel is just one interface.
My experience has been limited to building custom spreadsheets for my budget, monitoring my outstanding loans, gas/car performance, etc.
Other than paper and pencil, spreadsheets have been a quick and easy way to put together a budget for me. I like that spreadsheets offer customization, but they can require a lot of time to construct.
Based on the comments already left, I’m now considering looking into Google docs for an easy to access budget.
My personal favorite is the Crown Money Map Financial Software from Crown Financial Ministries. While it is not free, it is well supported and effective. It is easy to use and the one time fee is very affordable.
I am currently running Microsoft Money 97 on Windows XP and I like it very much for the most part. However, Microsoft Money version 97 will not run on Windows 7 (according to Microsoft and others online – I haven’t actually tested it). I wonder how many other programs out there will encounter problems when users are forced to upgrade Windows? Fortunately I found out about the problem before I need to upgrade – this gives me time to research and find exactly the right software for me. But users should make sure their software will run on 64-bit systems or they might find themselves in a crunch later.
New Covenant Bible Institute says
Now is really the time that we can get the things that we need more easily especially when it comes for information and tools that can help us. The list of Free tools that we can use is really great and surely can help many people…
stephanie snipes says
I’ve been using Mint for about a year now, I love most features but it does have some glitches. I have multiple checking accounts and it sometimes mixes upt transactions. In reality I made a Discover card payment from one checking account and it showed it onmint as a transfer from one checking to another. Also had trouble updating from BOA and this is a known issue.
Geo. Smith says
I have been using Mint for a few year’s now. There is a problem they can’t seem to correct. I can no longer get any updates on about 5 different credit card accounts, and I also can’t get my Credit Union Account to update. Do the other free programs have this problem?
was wondering if anyone has tried s/w called powerwallet and what they thought… ?
So the previous is a duplicate. My browser crashed during posting…
Sorry for cluttering the board.