10 Free (or Almost!) Tools and Resources for Creating a New 2015 Budget

So your spending went a little haywire during the holidays. Now is the time to get back on track with a new budget for 2015.

These days, it's easy to track spending and set up budgets, often without the need to log in to any complicated software program.

For those looking to do a better job of tracking spending and keeping their financial goals within reach, these tools should help you as you head into the new year.

1. Mint

Mint offers an array of tools to help with budgeting. It's possible to link all of your financial accounts, including your investments, and view them on a single platform. You can also track and categorize all transactions, and export your financial data to your TurboTax account at tax time. Best of all, you can set up an unlimited number of budgets and even establish goals to track. Mint is available online and on apps for smartphones and tablets.

2. Empower

If you like Mint, you'll also like Empower. Its budgeting tools are not quite as robust, but I find it's a little snappier than Mint. Empower also offers financial advice and management for a fee.

3. Buxfer

Buxfer allows you to sync all of your accounts just like Mint and Empower, but has an added feature that allows you to send money to friends and family online. It also helps you dole out shared expenses, like portions of rent or groceries, so it's perfect for young people with roommates.

4. BudgetPulse

This web-based application is a good option for those who prefer to not link all of their accounts. BudgetPulse requires a little bit more work, because you have to enter all of your financial information manually, but it has a nice interface and some easy-to-adjust budgeting tools.

5. Level Money

Level Money allows you to enter your income, expenses, and "spendable cash" and then offers a real-time picture of what you're buying and how much cash you have left. It's best feature is its simplicity.

6. GnuCash

The GnuCash personal and small business accounting program has many devotees because it's free and works on almost any computer platform, including Linux. Because it's based on the double-entry accounting system, it's very robust (and sometimes confusing for those unfamiliar with double entry). Still, with it you can track bank accounts, stocks, and other financial information, and get helpful charts. It's also possible to import from software programs such as Quicken.

7. Spendee

The first step to budgeting is learning where your money is going. And that's Spendee's strength. It's easy to enter transactions with just a few taps on the app (iPhone and Android), and the interface is about as clean as you can get. The budgeting tools aren't as robust as other apps, but you may find it's just perfect enough for tracking spending.

8. HomeBudget

A well-reviewed app for iOs, Android, and desktop platforms, HomeBudget is great for couples who want to manage budgets together. The app has a slick interface and offers a syncing capability that allows more than one user to track spending and income. The downside to this app is that it costs $4.99, but many find it worth it.

9. Paper Envelopes

Yes, just a handful of plain white envelopes will help you stay on the right financial path. Fill each envelope with a specific amount of cash for certain items. Once the envelope is empty, you can't spend any more on that item. It's a simple, but effective, way to reduce your dependency on credit cards and rein in your spending.

10. Microsoft Excel

This may seem a little outdated — and it's only free if you already have MS Office installed — but it can be effective. Microsoft's spreadsheet program offers a simple monthly budget template that allows you to compare monthly income and expenses. Sometimes simple is best.

If truly free is your thing, you might try a similar template on Sheets, Google's free alternative to Excel.

How do you track your budget?

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Guest's picture

NeoBudget.com is a great tracking tool as well. It has a free and (almost) free plans available as well as free iphone/ipad/android apps.

Guest's picture

SmartAmount let you see how your next expenses affecting your future balance (notifying when you go to red).