Every Tuesday is Finance & Family Day at Zen Habits.
Recently I got some amazing responses from all of you in Ask the Readers: What are your financial tools? and I wanted to share some of the best tools I’ve found from that thread. And the thing I like most about them: unlike Quicken and Microsoft Money, they’re free!
- Excel or Google Spreadsheets. Perhaps the simplest tool of all. Create your own (I did) or find an excellent one already created: Pear Budget, Of Zen and Computing’s simple spreadsheet, Get Rich Slowly’s spreadsheet. The appeal of this is that it’s extremely flexible, it’s simple, it’s fast and easy, it’s free and, if you keep it really simple, you can put it online with Google Spreadsheets.
- Gnu Cash. Now available for Windows for the first time, Gnu Cash was designed for Linux and is available for OSX and other operating systems. It’s totally free (under the GNU GPL), easy to use, even if it isn’t as pretty as more expensive software. Very popular among the Linux crowd. Beloved for its double-entry accounting system. This open-source software can import data from Money and Quicken, and can export to numerous data formats.
- Wesabe. Web 2.0′s answer to money software, Wesabe takes the traditional approach and turns it on its head with a social aspect. It can import all of your financial institution data (banks, credit cards, etc.), and allows you to tag each entry, so you can see how you’re spending your money. Even more interesting is the social part: based on your tags, you can see how others spend on similar tags, and see their best tips for that type of tag. An interesting approach, but I’m not sold yet on this concept.
- Money Trackin. A very easy-to-use site, this is perfect if you want your money software to be online and accessible from anywhere, including your mobile device. Just spent $30 at a restaurant? Enter that from the restaurant itself. This online software allows you to enter all your transactions, tag them, view reports, and see your financial situation at a glance. And it doesn’t require you to enter your personal info to set up an account.
- AceMoney. The lite version of AceMoney is freeware — and has the same features as the paid version, except you can’t manage multiple accounts. So this would be great for someone who just has one main account to track. Track your spending, set up a budget, track investments, look at graphs, import data from your bank, be reminded to pay your bill, plan to pay off your debts, and more. Not the prettiest software, but hey, it’s free! And it works.
- Yodlee. This is a slick solution. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m severely tempted (I just haven’t had time to give it a spin). A totally online solution, you can track spending, monitor your budget, look at portfolio charts, track your net worth, and more. Pretty nice.
Anyone given these a spin? Tell us what you think of these alternatives, especially if you’ve tried more than one and can compare them.
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- How I Ended My Affair with the Credit Card
- Monitor Your Impulse Spending Urges
- How I Save Money
- What is truly necessary? A guide to living frugal
- Reward Yourself Without Spending a lot
- One Month Challenge: Tracking Our Expenses
- How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
- Baby Makes Eight: Raising Six Kids, Part 1 – Finances