Are you looking for free budgeting software? I had the pleasure of interviewing Craig Kessler of BudgetPulse.com last month, and he really got my attention when he explained his firm’s free budgeting and forecasting software.
For of those of you unfamiliar with BudgetPulse.com, it’s a newish software program created for you and me to help us manage our personal finances. (I’m not really sure if it’s suited to budgeting for small business needs.) You may think I’m weird, but I get all perky when it comes to this kind of thing. Whoa…
Back to Craig…
During our interview, I learned a lot about Craig’s product and (more importantly) how different our needs are as consumers. You see, I’m a long-time Quicken/Quickbooks user. I use it for the following reasons:
a. I started tracking my spending before anything else was available.
b. I like the automatic download feature. It saves me from the arduous task of inputting all the data by hand.
c. I’m lazy and don’t want to learn another system (see points a and b above).
For years, I’ve been of the mind that everyone should use Quicken/Quickbooks, but after speaking with Craig I’m not so sure. Let’s take a tour of Budget Pulse and let you be the judge.
1. Budget Pulse is free.
Do I need to say any more?
2. Easy to use
The website claims that it’s very easy to set up and takes only minutes. When I took a tumble over there, I agreed. It was pretty simple – and that’s more than I can say for Quickbooks, which takes hours – and even then you have to pray you didn’t make any mistakes.
The ease of use could make the difference between your using a system and not using one. A huge plus for Budget Pulse.
3. Complete budgeting and savings goals management
I have not tested this feature, but Craig’s explanation of how it worked got me perked up even more. This feature is crucial for your financial success, and it’s a must-have. The ability to budget towards goals could give those without a financial plan a mini-plan. Nice! Thanks, Craigster. It’s very similar to the budgeting feature in You Need A Budget.
Since you do not upload data from your credit cards and/or banks into Budget Pulse, there is no threat of someone getting your sensitive information. This feature comes at a cost – it means you have to input data manually.
I know some people who do not use a software system specifically because of security concerns. This feature should take of that problem. If you don’t have lots of transactions, then it shouldn’t even bother you.
Personally, I need the automatic download feature, but for others it might not be critical.
5. Fund raising
Budget Pulse has a neat little button that allows you to raise money from your family and friends effortlessly (perfect way to fund your trek to the Himalayas this year!).
Thankfully I don’t need this feature right now. I don’t really know how I’d feel if someone I knew hit me up for some cash using Budget Pulse – or anything else for that matter. Having this feature might make it too easy for some folks to give it a try. (If my daughters are reading this…don’t even think about it!)
All in all, I think Budget Pulse is a great little program that will solve the problems left unresolved by many of the older programs like Quicken/Quickbooks.
Do you use a software package to track your finances? Which one? What do you like/dislike about it? Do any of the features of Budget Pulse appeal to you?
Hey! Thanks for sharing about your interview with Craig and about the new software. Anything that can help me with my finances, I try to get my hands on! Thanks. 🙂
@Chris I hope our software will help you with your finances. If you have any questions, please contact me directly.
I’m not trying to be a buzzkill or anything. Your program looks very well-conceived. And if I didn’t have a daughter, I think it would be good to be more hands-on with a program. But for now, this likely entails more work than I can afford right now.
@Joel No problem, I understand. Once the transactions are up to date, I honestly don’t spend more than 2 mins a day on it. Just update the 2-3 transactions that I may have. But if you would like an alternative, please feel free to ask, I would be glad to help out.
@Joel You are correct it is either manual input or you can import your financial bank statements. A lot of our users enjoy this for a few reasons. Better security since there is no syncing with any personal accounts. It makes you be more proactive with budgeting since instead of waiting for purchases to clear, you have to actually keep track on a daily basis. Also, its an alternative for users who can’t use tools that sync or live international. Again it all depends on the users preference, I would be glad to answer any of your questions. I could also offer some quality alternatives if you would like.
You are right. It doesn’t allow for downloading. For me, it’s a deal breaker but Craig feels that for some people, this is real plus – added security. Tough sell.
Thanks Neal, the interview was so much fun to do. We just released the new savings goals function recently and a lot of users have praised us for it. If anyone has any questions at all with BudgetPulse, they can contact me directly.
Marketing Director at BudgetPulse
YNAB aka You Need A Budget is excellent software, simple or complex as you make it and it has a fantasice “envelope” style of money management.