8 Free Personal Finance Management Programs

When we posted our scrappy guide to making your first budget, many readers chimed in with what personal finance software they enjoyed, many of them free. Here’s a roundup of the results:

Free
Money Manager Ex (Windows and Linux)
MS Office templates (MS Office Suite or Open Office)
GnuCash (GNU/Linux, *BSD, Solaris and Mac OSX)
Pear Budget (all platforms)
Buddi (all)
Yodlee (online)
Wesabe (online)

Pay
Quicken ($30, PC) *
MS Money ($49.99, PC) *
Myvelopes ($7.90/month, online)
Moneydance ($29.99, all platforms)

* “Sunsets” after a few years, meaning you will have to pay for an upgrade or you won’t be able to sync it with your financial institutions. — BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. viriiman says:

    Just wondering if anyone knows of any other programs for the (PPC) Mac. As much as I hate to, I’m still tied to MS Money on a PC because of it’s simplicity over other programs I’ve seen for the mac.

  2. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Also, Intuit usually offers a rebate on Quicken (Basic) when you buy it together with Turbo Tax. Last year, the rebate was the full price of Quicken. This year, it’s a $20 rebate.

  3. *cough* Yodlee *cough*

    You can register at the bottom of the page!

  4. urban_ninjya says:

    IMO, free is still not worth using yet. It’s not like your financial needs change year to year often. You should buy or download the best product you can, and use it religiously. If not, then you might as well just use some excel sheets. True value of Quicken is in alot of the reporting features. It really helps you manage future cash flows and provides good insights.

  5. Fushyuguru says:

    Check out Moneydance, http://www.moneydance.com/ I’m surprised it wasn’t listed.

    It’s a cheap ($30) alternative to the MS/Quicken’s out there. No adverts, and it’s Java based so it works on pretty much any platform.

    I’ve been using it for about a year now and I love it. Just a “keep it simple stupid” version of double-entry accounting. Has a user based plugin support for loan/credit calculators. Even supports downloading account information from just about any bank, investments, budgets, loans, liabilities. The updates are pretty significant too (once or twice a year).

    I’ve used my own spreadsheets, MS Money and Quicken, but landed on Moneydance.

    Fush.

  6. katiegirl98 says:

    The system my husband and I use is http://www.mvelopes.com. It’s like keeping money in envelopes, only they’re electronic. It has the functionality of downloading transactions from banks like Quicken. They’re also constantly adding new reporting features. It’s only possible downfall is that it is a monthly subscription service. It’s also a little getting used to.

  7. basket548 says:

    One of the problems that I’ve noticed, even with the bought programs, is that you still have to pay a fee to sync up with your bank automatically – at least, this is certainly true of Chase and BofA. Does anyone know banks that allow online syncing without a fee?

  8. infoape says:

    You may also want to consider sites such as Wesabe (http://www.wesabe.com) as free(ish) financial management tools that are on par with things like quicken and much more useful than a simple budgeting spreadsheet. *note: I am in now way affiliated with Wesabe other than as a user.

  9. Lee says:

    I have to disagree with you urban. I have been using Money Manager for over a year now and I would not trade it for Quicken or MS Money. IMO they are just bloatware. Yea, there. I said it ;-)

  10. You forgot moneydance. Its alot like Quicken, except that the interface is intuitive, syncing works properly, and it doesn’t crash and corrupt your data. (Okay, so its not really that much like Quicken.) Not free, but its available for Mac, Linux, and Windows.

  11. rshaan says:

    also theres going to be a service called Mint starting up soon, it looks potentially fruitful.

    http://www.mymint.com/

  12. chuckg says:

    As I found out recently, once you purchase Quicken, you have to keep purchasing new versions if you want to use the online services. My Quicken 2004 is now generating pop-ups that tell me my online access will expire on April 30 unless I “upgrade” to Quicken 2007. Of course, nowhere in the license agreement or on the packaging does Quicken 2004 mention this (although the new versions now do).
    Sounds like a good time for me to try one of the packages mentioned here…

  13. @basket548: I don’t pay any fees for yodlee to sync with anyone. BofA, Chase, my 401k, Capital One, ING sync/categorize with no issues whatsoever…

  14. gundan says:

    I will have to add my 2 cents worth on MoneyDance. I was using MS Money and I moved over to the Mac world and I had to retain a PC just for MS Money. I found Moneydance, migrated all my data into it from Money and I have been happily using it for the last few years now.

    I will admit, the interface is not as polished as Money, but it does a great job of keeping track of all my finances.

  15. npollitt says:

    For Linux/KDE users there is also KMyMoney2. I did the upgrade from Quicken 2001 to 2004 and found the “new features” to be disappointing – forms that controlled what I entered into the register that didn’t make sense for some special cases. So I have no intention of upgrading to 2007. KMyMoney, like GNUCash can import Quicken QIF files.

  16. demoman says:

    Personally after recently attending Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University I would HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend it to ANYONE that is wanting to take control of their money and finances.

    This program or that program on the computer will NOT give you the control you will be able to have over your money. After you go to this program.

    I’m a graduate of the program and very close to being DEBIT FREE!! http://www.daveramsey.com

    Yes he is the same guy some of you are lucky to hear on the radio. This guy is GREAT saved my life and my marriage.

  17. @demoman: Mmm, shilleriffic. While you did a fantastic job imitating the dialect and cadence of spam almost exactly–and I do appreciate that–you did miss the target a little bit in terms of being on-topic. That’s what happens when you just go off keywords, I imagine.

  18. kusine says:

    I really like Buddi. It’s a little confusing at first, but the help is really good. And you can’t beat the price. :)

    There are plug-ins in the works to import bank data. They could use more samples, so hop on over to the forum on the website and provide some!

  19. I use a piece of freeware called Ace Money. (can find it at cnet) It’s more for pure budget tracking in various spending categories, though — no, like, downloading bank data or whatever. Basically allows me to track income and spending month to month and then compares months to other months and years to other years. And make pie charts so I can see exactly what percentage of my money goes to gas. Or to amazon.com.

  20. RumorsDaily says:

    Be aware that when you store information online, it can be accessed by the government with a subpoena rather than with a search warrant. This doesn’t matter to most people, and honestly they can get a lot of that information with subpoenas anyway by going directly to your financial institutions, but if you have any records that you don’t want the government grabbing, I’d recommend against storing your financial life online.

  21. RumorsDaily says:

    @demoman: Spamtastic.

  22. pridkett says:

    With lots of financial software you get what you pay for. I tried out a variety of the free packages for years, even tried rolling my own setup using some nice python scripts, but in the end, most of them just didn’t hack it. Back in 2002 I shelled out $70 for a copy of Quicken Deluxe. In 2005 Intuit told me I was going to need to pay for Quicken again, and because I had used the Deluxe version, I couldn’t migrate my data to the basic version that is basically given away with Turbo Tax.

    I looked around at quite a few packages and eventually settled on Moneydance. One of the biggest pluses to Moneydance is that I can still sync to my bank and credit card accounts using the software. It also has pretty good support for managing securities and retirement accounts, not quite as good as Quicken Deluxe had, but certainly better than the non-existant support in Quicken Basic. The python interface to Moneydance is also quite nice if you’re a hacker and would like to write some custom extensions and reports to the software, something I’ve done a few times.

    However, probably the best feature of Moneydance is the support. Emailing to the support list frequently gets a response from the author of the program. If not, you’re pretty likely to get a response from someone who has been there before. The community around Moneydance really make it great. It’s been the best $30 I’ve spent in the last few years. Plus, upgrades are free and you’re supporting smaller software development firms. A double win there.

  23. britne says:

    I’ve tried Mvelopes, and it wasn’t at all worth it. First of all, it costs about $10 a MONTH, whereas you can get some of the other “pay” ones for $20-$30. Even if they force you to buy the new version every year, you’re still saving money. Do the math.
    Also, Mvelopes always ran very slow- on start up, transaction download, editing accounts, everything. I paid for about a month, and cancelled.
    After a few months of leaving the finances blindly to the hubby, I’ve downloaded Buddi and GnuCash to start fiddling around with.
    Even if either is as slow as Mvelopes, at least I won’t be paying for them. =)

  24. sarora529 says:

    Yodlee is the best option because its FREE and online. It’s also used by several big name banks (Citigroup, BoA, Fidelity, ETrade etc…). Ive been using it for about 6 months and have had no problems. Plus their support staff listens to your suggestions and replies within a couple of days.

  25. kancept says:

    @ viriiman
    I use ChaChing on my PB g4 12″. I like it fine, not that I do a ton. It’s $14.95 and I haven’t had any issues with it. I have Quicken, but prefer it over that for it’s simplicity.

    Oh yeah, Quicken *IS* available for the Mac (PPC also). The list shows PC only.

    http://www.midnightapps.com/chaching/

  26. a_m_m_b says:

    @kancept: cha-ching looks great but also looks to be Mac only :(

  27. mrbenning says:

    @demoman:

    Man, I can’t wait till I’m “debit free”.

  28. Mr. Gunn says:

    12-inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: Yodlee’s still a little green. Random sync errors do pop up, and the only solution is to wait until they’re fixed.

    They don’t have a full-fledged support system, either, though I understand they’re working on it. Right now, it’s basically the one guy, Pete Hazelhurst, who can fix stuff and a bunch of untrained triage staff that just send blanket, “We acknowledge the problem and we’re working on it” messages.

    They were talking about charging fees for billpay, too, which kinda doesn’t make sense because many people have free billpay through their bank, which uses a version of yodlee itself, but it kinda does make sense because it costs money to do.

  29. Mr. Gunn says:

    Ben, it’s time to give the axe to spamalicious demoman.

  30. financegurl says:

    i am currently using parcus because the program is user friendly and everything are being kept simple but at the same time it has all the features that you will ever need…
    check it out at
    http://www.parcusgroup.com/index.html

  31. EatonStitch says:

    Another great personal finance program is Fortora Fresh Finance, it’s available for both Mac and Windows. It’s super easy to use, and has a simple clean user interface. You can check it out at http://www.fortora.com