By: Diane O'Brian
How you choose to budget your money can differ just as each person’s preference for egg preparation. But I believe in the importance of having a budget. Setting a budget is the first step to saving money. If you don’t know how much you spend on what, then it is really hard to know where all of your money goes. There are many money management programs that can help you budget your money.
To figure out how you like your eggs, I mean budget programs, here are some guidelines:
• Check reviews in computer magazines and on the Internet to narrow your choices.
• Compare features and prices of programs. Free programs can work as good as the ones that have a cost.
• Stick with the basic versions of programs unless you want to use a program to monitor investments.
• Compare planning and budgeting features in each program.
• Find out which program your bank recommends or requires if you wish to integrate with your bank.
• Compare options for exporting your information.
• Compare ease of use.
Here is a list of some free money management programs:
Money Manager Ex (Windows and Linux)
MS Office templates (MS Office Suite or Open Office)
GnuCash (GNU/Linux, *BSD, Solaris and Mac OSX)
Pear Budget (all platforms)
I can’t speak from personal experience about any of these programs except mint.com. This is the money management site that my husband and I use. It is free, easy to use after initial setup, accessible from any computer with a login, and secure (according to my tech husband). Prior to mint, I had created a customized excel spreadsheet for my budget-Mint is a lot less leg work. I guess I like my eggs over easy.