Tools to Help You Track Your Dollars

Take the stress out of money management

Excel Budgeting Spreadsheet

Probably one of the most ubiquitous programs for computer users, Microsoft Excel offers a selection of personal finance spreadsheets. I chose the personal monthly budget template for Microsoft 2007, which is for Mac users, because it seemed to fit my financial lifestyle best. One of the drawbacks with the online and default Excel budgeting templates is most of them include “projected” and actual cost columns. This can be unnecessary for someone who doesn’t have fluctuating income or expenses. Next, the real tedium kicks in. Manually inputting each debt, expenditure, and income source is consuming. But the program allows users to view expenses as charts and graphs. Overall, if you have time to log every expense, go for it, but for those with busy lives, this may not be your best bet.

Google Docs Personal Finance Budget

For those who want to manage their finances on the go, Google Docs offers numerous personal finance budgeting templates. If you have the ability to check your e-mail from your phone, then you can manage this personal finance tracking tool. I selected the “Personal Monthly Budget” because it best fit my financial picture. Like Excel, this tool is rather laborious. You must manually input each expenditure, income sources, and debt.

Another drawback, for those with fixed income and expenditures is the “projected” category, which, again, like Excel, can be unnecessary. Despite having to input information manually, this tool would be ideal for couples or parents and children working to manage a family budget since Google allows users to share the document with other users. This can be a great learning tool for children as parents can help them monitor their spending and teach them how money works.

Further Reading:

Let’s Talk Money

Renita Burns is the editorial assistant at BlackEnterprise.com.

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    I’m not sure its fair to compare a full fledged money management application like Mint.com to spreadsheet applications with a budgeting template. A better comparison might have been Microsoft Money or Intuit’s Quicken which by the way recently purchased Mint.com. Both have some of the same essential features as Mint.com, including the ability to import information from your bank account, the ability to itemize expenditures, and detailed reporting features.

    The main difference between products like Quicken and MS Money and a product like Mint.com is that both Quicken and Money have desktop applications, which means an internet connection is not required to view your data and run reports. An internet connection is however recommended for downloading bank account information.

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