Personal Finance Software

By: Maureen Davey Last Updated: August 26, 2010

Piggy Bank Lately I've been trying to do a better job of keeping my finances in order. I have a solid amount of debt from college that I'm still trying, only somewhat successfully, to pay down. I know I can do it if I stick to it, but I need to have a better idea of where my money is going before I can figure out exactly how much I need to allocate for paying down debt.

I've tried a couple of free programs to help balance my finances, and they've both been helpful in their own ways.

  1. Mint - has long been touted as the best free money management program out there. (It recently merged with Quicken Online as well.) Register for a free account, add your bank accounts and credit cards, and Mint will automatically and securely import your previous transactions. It also does its "best guess" to automatically categorize them so you can see where you are spending your money and compare your total income with your total spending. You can also set budgets and goals (such as debt repayment, investing, etc). Mint is available for the web, and there are iPhone and Android apps available as well.
  2. Clear Checkbook - While I like Mint's capabilities, Clear Checkbook is nice because it gives me complete control over how things are inputted. You can import transactions you download from your bank account, but you need to manually assign the categories. Other than that, it is like an electronic checkbook, but you can also set budgets/spending limits and track where your money is going. Not as flashy as Mint, but if you want something that gives you complete control over how and when transactions are entered instead of automatically pulling them from the web (and keep in mind, Mint can only pull what's already posted to your account--it doesn't pull any pending transactions), Clear Checkbook is also free, and it has iPhone, Android, and Palm apps as well.

I know that some banks also have their own money management systems as well, but I've never tried one. Have you tried Mint or Clear Checkbook, or your own bank's online software? How do you keep track of your spending?