Manage Your Budget and Savings Goals Online With BudgetPulse
BudgetPulse is free online personal finance software that's worth a try if you're looking for an easy to use online app for managing a budget and your financial accounts, and it can be used to set up savings goals that others can contribute to (or keep your goals private).
To get started with using BudgetPulse, click on the sign-up button and enter your email address and a password (see these tips for strong passwords), then click the box to accept the terms of service, which has legal, privacy and other terms. You can read these terms, which look reasonable, by clicking a link in the sign-up box. BudgetPulse retains to right to charge a fee to use it in the future. If a fee is charged and you don't want to pay, you can export your data anytime you want to for use in other personal finance software.
Working With Accounts
Adding accounts is easy. Click on Accounts from the top toolbar, then click on the Add Account button on the upper right and name the account and enter other information. Since you won't be syncing with any financial institutions, no account numbers or identifying information needs to be entered.
BudgetPulse does not connect to banks or other financial institutions, so you either have to enter transactions manually, described below, or you can download transactions and import them into each account. To do so, click on Tools at the top of the page and in the Import section, choose the downloaded file, select the account to import to and select a date format. You can also import from a CSV file created with a spreadsheet like Excel. BudgetPulse provides a template to use so your data is in the proper format to import this way.
BudgetPulse supports any currency, and you can set your preferred currency in your profile. There is no support for multiple currencies.
To enter a transaction, click on Transactions and you'll see Add New Transactions on the upper right with fields to fill in to define the transaction. Select the Type (income, expense), Account from the drop-down box, enter an optional description, then transaction date and amount. From this same tool, you can add a note to the transaction, create split transactions with multiple spending categories, or create a recurring transaction to cut down on data entry in the future.
Just below the area for entering transactions, you can set up categories, tags, or transfer funds between your accounts. This page also shows your recent transactions and scheduled income or payments that you've entered in advance and recurring transactions that are coming up soon.
Working With Your Budget
Click on Budget in the top toolbar and you'll see a budget graph that compares actual to budgeted expenses and income. The tool for setting up your budget appears lower on the screen, where you can either enter a number for monthly expenses or use a slider to select the amount. Not all categories need to be budgeted for, which works out well if you just want to track your spending. Categories that aren't in the budget appear below those that have been budgeted for.
All account balances are listed under the Budget area as well. To analyze your budget, net worth and other items, click on the 'Chart' section.
BudgetPulse supports both private savings goals which are seen only by you, and public goals that you give people permission to view. Others can make a contribution to your public goals via PayPal, Amazon or by making a pledge. Public goals are not only for personal use but are also a great way to collect money for fundraisers.
Set up savings goals by clicking on Goals in the top toolbar and you'll see a graph with the percentage progress made on each goal. To add a new savings goal, just look to the right under Add New Goal and fill in a description, the amount you want to save up or raise, a target date for reaching the goal and other information.
Should You Try BudgetPulse?
Overall, BudgetPulse is really easy to use: just start by clicking on the top toolbar to work with your information. While this online app isn't for anyone who wants to be able to have transactions automatically updated (see Best Online Personal Finance Software for alternatives), the process for importing transactions is easy to do if you're comfortable with first downloading them from your online banking sites. Of course, you can manually enter transactions as well. Many people are more comfortable with downloading or entering transactions themselves rather to using online software that automatically updates accounts because no account numbers or other identifying information is entered.
You won't get a lot of whistles and bells with BudgetPulse, and it does not currently have a mobile app, but it works very well at helping with managing financial accounts, spending, a budget and savings goals. To give it a try, go to www.budgetpulse.com.