Best Online Budget Planners for Your Household

January 11, 2017

A solid budget is integral to so much that’s important in life: your credit score, retirement security and settling down in a home of your own. Luckily, creating a budget is simple and easy if you have the right tools. Grab your tablet, laptop or smartphone and let an online budget planner help you. Here’s what to look for in the best budgeting software.

Budget Allocation

Organizing a budget means allocating your income to at least three major areas: necessary expenses like housing and utilities, debt management and discretionary spending. A good online budget planner such as Quicken Starter Edition tells you what you’re currently spending money on as you enter your transactions. It will categorize and add up these expenses for you. Quicken Starter Edition even lets you snap pictures of your receipts on the fly so you never lose track of a dime. You’ll be aware of everything you spend — a critical component of creating a budget. 

Tracking Your Savings

It’s commonly recommended that you set aside 10 percent of your income each month in savings — this goes toward six months’ worth of living expenses in case of an emergency. If that sounds intimidating, try saving 5, 6 or 7 percent at first. The important thing is that you put a little bit away on a regular basis. “Pay yourself first so you stick to your systemic investments,” advises Joanne Flack, an independent financial advisor in New Jersey. “Saving and working within your budget is often easier if you set aside savings before you start spending your paycheck or using it to pay bills,” Flack notes. If you choose to save last, Quicken Starter Edition will warn you when you’re about to tap out your discretionary spending limit for the month. Then you can make adjustments to ensure you’ll still be able to save something. 

Paying Down Debt

From auto loans and mortgages to credit cards and personal loans, it’s a rare person who doesn’t owe at least one loan. The best budget planners send text alerts when payments are due so you never accumulate late fees. A planner lets you keep both bank account balances and credit card balances in one place. Quicken Deluxe can even help you devise a plan for paying off debt. 

Handling Your Investments

Maybe you’re already a savvy money manager. You have a tight rein on your spending, you’ve saved a nice cushion, your retirement plan is on track and you’ve even freed up some money to put toward investments. If you think this means there’s nothing an online budget planner can do for you, think again. Quicken Premier will keep your investment portfolio’s performance at your fingertips and tell you how it’s doing compared to the overall market. It can also help you make buy and sell decisions, and even plan for taxes. No matter what your financial situation, a good online budget planner should make the job of managing your money easy.