If you're feeling overwhelmed by finances, you could benefit from setting up a budget—and sticking to it. That's where PearBudget comes in. This free budget tracker offers basic tools for people looking to learn more about their cash flow and spending habits.
Review the benefits and drawbacks of PearBudget's free spreadsheet below.
PearBudget is a budgeting tool that offers an online budgeting interface as well as a free budget-tracking spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is built for use with software like Microsoft Excel or Open Office Calc (or any spreadsheet software that supports .xls files). Once it's set up, the spreadsheet will help track your spending from month to month.
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. 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.
Don't worry if you're new to budgeting. The spreadsheet is easy to use once you get the hang of it. New users will find everything they need to get started under the "Start Here" tab.
The Pros of PearBudget
First and foremost, the PearBudget spreadsheet is free. That's a huge benefit to anyone, but especially to those who are struggling to stick to a budget. If you're falling behind on bills or just need to improve your financial health, this free tool will come in handy.
Since it's a standalone .xls file, PearBudget's spreadsheet is versatile. It'll work with most spreadsheet software, and with either Mac or Windows. It's also fairly easy to set up. Most users have their budgets figured out within 20 minutes or so (though it does require weekly data entry).
Despite being free and simple to use, PearBudget offers an extremely detailed look at your expenses. The analysis tab automatically pulls from past months to give you a clear sense of your spending goals, and how you performed. You can really dive into the minutia of your spending habits and create plans based on the data.
The Cons of PearBudget
PearBudget isn't as convenient as other free personal money management software. That's by design; the company doesn't want to spend the resources it would take to establish secure bank connections. That means the service doesn't pose a security risk, but it also means it won't automatically pull your spending and income information from accounts. You'll have to manually enter all of that information. All told, PearBudget users can expect to spend between 10 and 20 minutes on data entry every week.
PearBudget might be confusing to users who don't have spreadsheet experience. The service isn't overly complicated, and you don't have to be an expert graph creator to make the most of PearBudget, but it might be overwhelming to someone who has never used Excel (or similar software).
Full Application: Additional Features
If you like PearBudget's spreadsheet, but find yourself missing the full range of services offered by traditional financial software for Mac, Windows, or online use, you're in luck! PearBudget offers a full application version online. The software is free for the first 30 days, then it'll cost $4.95 per month.
If you're happy with the standalone spreadsheets, then feel free to keep using that service without the full software upgrade. PearBudget has no plans of discontinuing or adding fees to its spreadsheet service.