One of the most interesting things I've noticed since I started running M$M was the large amount of readers that actually use Excel spreadsheets to create their budgets. There are a bunch of budgeting apps that I'll discuss below (both paid and free), but plenty of millennials still opt for the “old school” approach when it comes to managing their money.
If I had to guess, it's mostly for the convenience of not having to log in to a website and/or not really wanting to share bank account information that's required from many of the free budgeting services out there.
Here are the best free Excel budget templates and spreadsheets from M$M readers:
Recently, I reached out to readers on the M$M Facebook page that love using excel budget templates and found some great ones that they were willing to share! If you use one that you'd like me to include on the list, feel free to contact me here and send it over.
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If you're an avid reader of the site and were wondering – I did include the exact budget that my two teacher friends used to pay off over $51,000 of debt in 18 months! You can read more about their story here (it's really really good).
Each budget has different levels of detail and organization, so hopefully there's a little something for everyone.
The best online budgeting tools and sites:
For those of you that aren't into the Excel thing, there are some other really good budgeting apps and sites that I've come across lately and talked in depth with M$M readers about.
Just like before, if you have something you really like and think I should include on the list, let me know here and I'll take a look.
EveryDollar App (free and paid): There's a lot of crossover between Dave Ramsey fans and this site, so this is definitely a popular tool that I'm seeing right now. EveryDollar has a really simple dashboard and uses both the zero-based budget and the baby steps that Dave has become famous for. The base version is free, but you will get a 15 day free trial of EveryDollar plus when you sign up. The upgraded version allows you to connect bank accounts to the program in a similar fashion to Mint and Personal Capital. EveryDollar Plus is $99 per year.
Mint (free): This is probably the most popular budgeting software on the market right now, and it is completely free to use. Mint will connect all of your bank account information and keep it up to date in the dashboard area. Essentially, you can track all of your spending in one place. Just be aware that Mint keeps it's service free by placing ads in the program, so many of the “helpful hints” you'll see are sponsored.
Personal Capital (free): Like I mentioned above, this is what I use on a daily basis. Personal Capital is a really strong investment and retirement tracking platform, and it's got one of the cleanest and most organized dashboards. There are no ads with PC like there are in Mint. You can connect most bank account information to Personal Capital, and manually enter all of your assets and liabilities if needed on the left column of the app.
You Need a Budget or YNAB (paid): Similar to EveryDollar, you will get a free trial period with YNAB for 34 days. After the trial period, you are looking at either $5 per month or $50 for the entire year to use the program. YNAB is a little different than most of the other budgeting software programs out there. Rather than focusing on your spending now and in the past, it actually tries to train you to focus on your future budgeting needs. The program wants you to live on the previous month's income instead of using what is rolling in right now.
Here's what my wife and I use:
My wife and I have used Personal Capital pretty extensively over the past two years or so. It's completely free to use, and it allows me to see all of our money in one place and track our spending and investments. Be sure to check out my full review of Personal Capital and give it a go.
If you're a fan of Mint, you'll probably like Personal Capital too. After playing around with both of those programs, I feel like they supplement each other really well.
PC is stronger on tracking investments and net worth, while Mint is better for the nitty-gritty spending details. Again, this is a free signup.
It really doesn't matter what you pick…just use something!
With all of the available free and low-cost budgeting tools out there, there really isn't an excuse to not track your money anymore. Millennials have been stereotyped as lazy fools for a long time, but those days are quickly coming to an end.
You are going to make more money in the coming years and will need to have a good handle on everything. It's just going to happen as we all have to really start adulting full-time. 🙂
If you didn't sign up to get the free Excel budget templates and spreadsheets above, you really should. I was pretty shocked at some of the creativity and thought that went into the reader budgets that were sent to me!
To all the readers that submitted their budgets – thank you so much! I know these will help other people get their money right.