5 Tools That Make Budgeting Easier

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 Let's be honest; most of us don't love budgeting. We put it off or ignore it altogether because it just seems too hard, too boring or too much of a hassle.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to make budgeting easier and less stressful, and many of them are free. Here are 5 of our favorites.

1. Mint

This free online tool lets you link to your cards and bank accounts so that any purchases you make are instantly added to your monthly budget.

You can also set up categories and tell Mint to always sort your transactions into those categories, so every time you stop by the local coffee shop, for instance, that purchase automatically goes into your "coffee" category. It's great for those who normally hate budgeting.

2. Mvelopes

A digital version of financial guru Dave Ramsey's envelope system, this tool makes it easy to see how much you've spent so far this month in each of your budget categories. If you have trouble sticking to your weekly spending allowances, this could be the tool to help you improve. It's free for basic features and $95/year if you want the premium service.

3. You Need a Budget

If you have an irregular income — you're a freelancer, you work several part-time jobs with uncertain hours, etc. — this software is for you. Rather than working off an expected monthly income, it teaches you a new strategy for working with the money you've already brought in and allocating it towards your most immediate needs.

It's $60 to purchase after a 34-day trial, but the cost is worth it if you have trouble making your money stretch from paycheck to paycheck.

4. Buxfer

This tool is great if you're the budget master in charge of your whole household's budget, whether that household is you and a few roommates or you and your spouse plus kids.

It has special shared expenses features that make it easy to track who's spent what and who owes what. It's free for basic features or costs between $3.99 and $4.99 for additional features.

5. PowerWallet

This tool not only helps you stay on track with your budget; it also helps you look plan ahead for the future. Bill due date reminders help you make sure you never miss a payment, and custom deal notifications alert you to savings that are available in your area based on your spending habits.