Budgeting Tools and Software Products in Lieu of Microsoft Money

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2009-06-1329

With Microsoft Money software no longer being offered, you may be wondering what other budgeting software products and tools may be available for use. The good news is that there are a lot of great alternatives to MS Money.

budgeting tools, budgeting software, budget

Here are a number of popular budgeting tools that you can check out:

Budgeting Tools and Software Products For Your Desktop

  • Excel Spreadsheets: If you aren’t an Excel user, could it be because you’ve deliberately decided that spreadsheets are just too much of a bear to use? But it may be time to revisit how Excel works. I personally use this tool for my financial management needs. While it’s the most basic tool out there for your money (some desktop products are actually based on it), it’s also the most flexible one you’ll probably ever come across.
  • You Need A Budget: I’ve covered the YNAB tools to some extent before — just check out my review of YNAB (You Need A Budget). YNAB 3 is a highly rated desktop budgeting tool which incorporates a methodology that strongly encourages you to stop living paycheck to paycheck. The product enforces a strategy that allows you to create a savings buffer while you budget. You can check out YNAB 3 here and try it out for free.
  • Quicken: This software is probably the best known alternative to Microsoft Money. On occasion, there’s a Quicken software discount offered on Intuit’s products that range from $20 to $50 off (depending on the product). The latest sales promotion will become available from June 15 to June 28 when you’ll be able to receive the aforementioned discounts. Quicken products include Quicken Deluxe, Premier, Home and Business, and Rental Property Manager, which you can pick up here.
  • iBank: From IGG Software, we have this financial management software application for the Mac. The full version costs $59.99 and the software comes with a 30 day guarantee. It has some interesting features, including the ability to sync up your data with your iPhone, and the ability to manage your loans and investments. It’s also compatible with tax applications, allowing you to export your tax records to software like TurboTax.
  • Moneydance: Here’s another software product that you can download. It appears to do the standard stuff that other products do, but there’s one thing that stands out about this application: the fact that it’s open source financial software that runs on a lot of software platforms such as the Mac, Windows, Linux and various Unix operating systems. Moneydance is also one of the fewer products that can support multiple languages and currencies. The downside? I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve read that it comes with less features (bells and whistles) than more popular products of its kind. Could simplicity be a good thing? It’s available for $39.99 as of this writing.

What About The Free Financial Tools?

For your money management needs, there’s also the free online stuff that you can blame for the demise of Microsoft’s money software. So what are some of the buzzworthy online personal financial tools out there?

  • Quicken Online: We’ve already discussed Quicken desktop products, but if you’re looking for an Intuit product that’s available at no cost, then try out Quicken’s free online version.
  • Mint.com: This online personal finance tool is one of the most recognized in its space. I’ve actually covered them a little bit on this blog. Find out how Mint stacks up to similar tools in the following articles: Mint vs Thrive and Mint vs Wesabe.
  • Wesabe: This is another great money management tool that comes with a highly regarded online community. They’ve got some cool forums too. (Update: This company has folded!)
  • Thrive: With this tool, you’ll be able to do the basics: make a budget, manage your spending, manage your savings, plan for your future and get a credit score. Check out my Mint vs Thrive post for more insights.
  • moneyStrands: Yet another financial site to help you set up a budget, control your spending, and start saving… you get the picture. I’m sure there’s more where this came from.

With online banks, online brokers, free personal finance tools, sites and other desktop personal financial software products to compete with, Microsoft Money could no longer compete in the budget software marketplace, but hopefully the alternatives we’ve provided will make for good replacements.

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

A Sancez June 13, 2009 at 5:50 am

Any idea when the next version of Quicken comes out. I’m a 10 year user of Money and will make the jump to Quicken but don’t want to buy now and then find out one month later that a new version is available.

matt @ Thrive June 13, 2009 at 7:48 am

As always, thanks for the mention SVB. The move is an interesting one by Microsoft, made still more interesting by the fact that most of the personal financial management websites remain on the open market. It will be interesting to see if any of the big boys (Microsoft, Google) decide to make a strategic acquisition to help them compete in the space, or if it will be left to see who can consolidate the largest user base among the current handful of major players (Thrive, Wesabe, Mint, Rudder, Geezeo, etc.)

simona@personal development coach June 13, 2009 at 10:26 am

It is very important to know how much you spend and how much you earn to be able to understand if you are becoming financially free or getting into debt. Thank you for great tips.

Tuimeltje June 14, 2009 at 2:52 am

The only tool I’ve used so far is GnuCash, a free, open source, cross-platform programme. So far I’ve used it mostly for tracking, but I suspect I could use it for pretty much everything financial I might need if only I’d take a bit of time to learn more.

Jenny June 14, 2009 at 8:11 am

I’m looking for something that I can have different “folders” within each account, so that in my savings account I can designate say, 10% to emergency, 25% to regular savings, 15% to vacation fund, etc. No online bank will allow me to do this within one account. Does anyone know of anything that will suit me?

Silicon Valley Blogger June 14, 2009 at 10:11 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t ING Bank have something like this? I wrote about it in my Orange Savings account review. With an ING account, you can create subaccounts (with labels) for your savings. But I’d love to hear other suggestions as well.

Jenny June 14, 2009 at 1:17 pm

I wish my bank offered subaccounts like ING. Unfortunately I am not looking to switch banks, I was thinking more of some type of program or software that I could have just on my computer that would do this. I would also love any suggestions.

Data Entry Services June 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm

I use QuickBooks for my business. It’s the best, low cost solution. I’ll have a look at the products you’ve suggested for personal use. I never gave Money a second look – just wasn’t impressed.

Funny about Money June 14, 2009 at 7:54 pm

The beauty of Excel is that it works across platforms. If you change from a PC to a Mac, you can convert Quicken data to Macintosh format…but you can’t change back! So you’re pretty much stuck with Macs now and evermore, unless you want to start all over. So if you base your taxes on data that you’ve entered in Quicken, you need to restart at the beginning of a tax year. If your Mac’s hard drive dies in July, you get to buy a new Mac, even if you really would like to switch back to a PC.

Also, newer versions of Excel will read data from much older versions. Quicken engineers obsolescence (by way of forcing consumers to keep buying new upgrades every couple of years) by seeing to it that new versions won’t read data from versions that are more than a few years old.

Excel will do most things Quicken will do; trouble is, it has quite a learning curve.

Peter June 15, 2009 at 5:58 am

One that you forgot to mention is Piggy Banks (http://trypiggybanks.com). Its free, super easy to use as it walks you through setting up your budget and helps you stay within it, it downloads all your transactions automatically, and it *just* works.

Craig June 15, 2009 at 10:06 am

Full Disclosure: I am the Marketing Director for http://www.budgetpulse.com. We are a free manual personal budgeting software. No security risks because we do not sync personal account information. International compatibility. We strive on a simple tool that anyone can use and still has excellent budgeting function. We have a new complete revamped site release coming in the next week or two. If anyone has any questions or would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me.

Craig Kessler
Marketing Director of BudgetPulse

Todd @ The Personal Finance Playbook June 15, 2009 at 11:58 am

I use a combination of Mint and spreadsheets. Mint takes extra time, believe it or not, but it can occassionally help you catch something you may not have caught on your own. It’s a checks and balances system.

matt @ Thrive June 16, 2009 at 7:48 am

@Jenny: if you are willing to switch banks, SmartyPig is one option for doing that. But you could also do it in Thrive through our Planning section – we take your savings account and split it into virtual “plans”, which you can then allocate your savings to as you wish. We already have a pre-made Rainy Day Fund goal to help you along and we’re working on a new feature that will make vacation planning and such easier.

Charles Richey June 16, 2009 at 2:02 pm

I had heard that they were going to nix it (MS Money). Part of their overall strategy to cut back and trim the bottom line. I’ve always used Quicken and the price isn’t bad at all. Not sure I like the idea of all of my financial information online. Seems like you are just asking for trouble.

Manshu July 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Are there many differences between Quicken online and desktop version? Why is the online version free?

Silicon Valley Blogger July 6, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Typically, desktop versions of products are more feature-rich — that’s my experience at least. Browser based applications are never as slick nor as quick as desktop programs of the same vein. I speak as a former application engineer giving an opinion. 🙂

Yes, that’s probably not the answer you were looking for. I will need to make a more detailed comparison sometime to give you the proper response, but the Quicken web site does have more info on this.

Scott Lovingood July 6, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Quicken Online is only accessible online. It has somewhat limited functionality compared to the desktop version. I think you can find a good review of the differences at Quicken’s site.

Some other options for budgeting and tracking spending are mint.com which is free. You can also use Excel to track it if you are familiar with it. There are some other free options that provide different functionality.

Carl Maher July 13, 2009 at 4:22 am

There are a few online budget planning websites out there, most of which are free. I particularly like budget-planner.co.uk.

The benefit of using an online version is that you can update it from wherever you are that has an internet connection rather than having to wait to get home to update.

Mary August 11, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Great Post. Online tools are really helpful when it comes to managing finances. I use one too it’s called Billeo. It’s a free browser plug-in that tracks my expenses, which in turn helps me make a better budget each month. It also saves receipts, manages passwords and sends reminders when bills are due. Very handy!

Roger Whitaker September 3, 2009 at 8:46 pm

I’ve been a spreadsheet user for many years going back to SuperCalc on an Osborne CP/M computer before DOS.

For the past 10 years or so, I’ve been using an Excel one. The first sheet projects ahead one payday at a time showing what expected bills I’ll be paying from that paycheck and has a running balance down the right column. I even created a graph showing my projected balance against time. The second sheet is my check register, set up just like a paper check register. It feeds back the checking account balance to the first page as the current balance. It’s gotten a little beyond the two basic pages, but that’s where the heart of it is.

I actually don’t use Excel, but rather OpenOffice.Org as it runs on my Ubuntu Linux system, too. The spreadsheet resides on a flash drive that I take with me to the office during the day. It’s automatically backed up to our home backup server each night.

The actual bottom line is that you should use what works for you. Everyone is different….thank goodness!

Mac Riddel November 16, 2009 at 8:59 am

I am a current MS Money Plus user, and was not too happy to hear that Microsoft is discontinuing this product. I’ve tried Mint.com and other similar services in the past, and though I like the immediate “State of my Money”, I like to manually balance my books, as I always seem to find a few issues here & there.

Another option is to use an online service called clearcheckbook.com. Though it allows manual entry, It still appears to be a work in progress, and the price is steep at $42/year. I’d be more interested in YNAB Pro as it appears to be more robust w/ a 1-time fee.

Brian November 16, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Tip: Mint.com is a great tool to keep track of all your accounts; And The reason why i have so many accounts is that I try out several banks each year, to see what bank have good features, rates and bonuses for their customers.

Matt November 18, 2009 at 5:15 am

I like your software suggestions. I am looking for a replacement for MS Money and your list looks good.

Sean January 15, 2010 at 1:35 am

It’s too bad that Microsoft Money will be discontinued. I have been using it for years.

Scott January 15, 2010 at 7:45 pm

I downloaded the YNAB trial and like what I see so far. I used to shoehorn the envelope method into ms money. MS money worked but required a lot more effort than it needed too (really a pain). Ynab appears to do the same thing I was doing but in a much easier way. Really like what I see so far. I do have a usability concern w.r.t. their reconciling feature. It automatically marks each transaction I download as “r” even if it duplicated something I already had in there or even already downloaded. That can be a really big problem when making sure you have the same balance as the bank. I assume from other people that rave about it that this problem does not make the software unusable. It certainly seems like a small price to pay for all the programs other great features. I do wish the trial was longer than 7 days so I could try a “reconcile” or two before buying.

Quatinn January 28, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Those are great programs. I personally use Excel but that’s because I grew up using it.

Rowena July 13, 2010 at 12:33 am

This is a great resource for those who are in need of management tools to manage their budget. Thanks for all the recommendations.

David September 7, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Managing money is not just about budgeting, but also about how to allocate funds for the right reasons. So many people find saving is not their problem, it is more of an issue to allocate those savings to something useful. A system of education regarding HOW to manage money as a young person is probably the best place to start. I came across a site at Moneytoolkits.com which is a great site for kids of all ages to learn how to manage money. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know HOW to create financial security whichever piece of budgeting software they use.

Thomas January 5, 2011 at 6:10 am

Excel is a very nice way of managing your budget. Check out the program I made using Excel, there is a free version on my website excelmybudget.com no strings attached. It is very easy to use. All you have to do is download your bank and/or credit card statements, copy and paste into the spreadsheet, and the program does the rest! No manually typing in dollar amounts. Let me know what you think!


Editor: Your site does not seem to be available any longer.

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