A Review of PearBudget

What You Need to Know About This Free Budget Spreadsheet

Serious man paying bills online at home
Getty Images/Portra Images

Are you overwhelmed by your financial situation? Do you need a quick and easy way to set up a budget and maybe a little help sticking to it? PearBudget might be your answer. At least, it's a great place to start.

What Is PearBudget? 

PearBudget is a free budget spreadsheet for Mac or Windows that's used with spreadsheet software. You can use a PearBudget spreadsheet to set up and track your spending from month to month.

This comprehensive household budget spreadsheet is downloaded for use with Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc, or any Windows or Mac spreadsheet software that supports .XLS files. If you don't have Microsoft Excel, give Open Office Calc a try.

PearBudget can track either a personal or a household budget, and it accommodates envelope budgeting by using irregular expense categories for annual, quarterly or other non-monthly expenses. Just enter a yearly amount for irregular expenses and PearBudget will tell you how much you must save to cover the bills when they come due. PearBudget then rolls unused amounts for irregular expenses forward to the next month to work as an envelope budgeting app. It tracks fixed, irregular and variable expenses separately, which is optimal for budget analysis.

The Pros of PearBudget

  • The PearBudget spreadsheet is free.
  • It's compatible with multiple operating systems.
  • It's great for those who want to get very detailed with budgeting.
  • Specific directions are included.

The Cons of PearBudget

  • It requires a lot of manual entry.
  • It might frustrate those who like more automation.

Our PearBudget Review

It takes about 20 minutes to set up the worksheets, and another 10 to 20 minutes to do data entry each week depending on your spending patterns.

Entering transactions manually keeps you on top of your spending, but if you don't feel that you can keep up with the data entry, try another budget spreadsheet or free personal money management software.

The spreadsheet doesn't track financial accounts the way traditional personal finance software does. Instead, the spreadsheet is all set up for you with formulas and formatting to make it easy to create and track your budget. Here's what you get:

  • The "Start Here" tab walks you through setting up expense categories and setting up budgeted amounts with comprehensive yet simple instructions.
  • Tabs at the bottom of the PearBudget worksheet designate each month where you can enter daily expenses and review the amount budgeted against the amount spent for the month.
  • The "Analysis" tab analyzes your expenses by month and category and reveals the difference between your actual spending and budgeted spending for variable expenses.

Of course, PearBudget lacks the features of traditional financial software for WindowsMac personal finance software, or online financial software. But if all you want is to set up a budget, if you have basic spreadsheet skills and if you don't need other personal money management features, the PearBudget spreadsheet is worth a try, especially because it's free.