At what point do you just finally break down and pay for some sort of fancy financial planning tool? Do you pay for Quicken on your computer, or Mint, or some other financial software? Is there a fancy phone app that you like to use?
The easiest and most cost effective way to do your personal budget is called do it yourself. You know the phrase DIY, as in no cost, no commitment, and no obligation to buy something else later. You handle it like a champ. This is why I created my Budgeting 101 page.
I wanted the average person to have a good spreadsheet tool that will keep track of their finances on a really quick and easy to use Excel template. I color coded and branded the template for you so that it makes sense in less than 10 seconds. You do not need to pay a lot of money for some special app or fancy financial planning tool.
In fact, if I didn't have to do business accounting, I wouldn't even own professional money software. All of these fancy financial planning tools are great, don't get me wrong. But I want to really understand and evaluate my financial decisions. When you download a list of transactions into your computer, you do not get to reflect or appreciate any of them. I like being able to go back and evaluate how that worked, or whether something else less costly would suffice in the future.
For my personal financial life, I don't want financial planning tools of any kind. I want to look at each transaction I made and figure out what I got from it. I also need to see where I spent my money. I like seeing all the transactions and evaluating my good decisions (and the bad ones I made as well) during that time frame. Sure, a fancy financial planning tool would help make it faster, but it removes the hard work and time that you spend on making better financial decisions. As anyone successful with money really understands, you must spend a lot of time practicing something in order to get better at it.
So next time that upgrade comes around, or that new app looks really tempting to download, think about how much that fancy financial planning tool is really costing you. It may just end up costing a lot more than your money.