Current state of budget creation software?

My wife and I are planning to finally sit down, go through all our spending, put it all in a budget, and actually find out where the money goes. I know there's a bunch of potential ways to do this, but I'm trying to figure out what's the best one for what we're looking for.

What I'd like is something that lets us automatically import all the money in and out, and get it into categories, either automatically or manually after the fact. We'd also need to be able to annotate or tag things, mainly to handle all the stuff that comes from Amazon, since it probably just appears as "Amazon purchase" on the credit card bill.

We've got all our money going into and out of three main accounts, and we mainly use two credit cards, plus one other credit account for a car loan. We're really looking for something where we don't have to add transactions as we go along, though something where I can do some kind of manual bulk import once a week/month would be okay too.

I know in the past, You Need A Budget was popular, and I even bought it back when it was on a Steam sale years ago, I just never set it up. I know they've gone to some kind of subscription model now, so I don't know if that's better or worse. Mint is also a thing I know is around. Of course, the other option is to just do it in a spreadsheet. What have people had good luck with using?

So far I've resisted the move to YNAB subscription but it's only a matter of time as the older software will stop working on OSX in the [near?] future. But it does sound more up the alley of what you are looking for.

Mint will show you the transactions and will let you update the categories and is free (other than harvesting your personal information) but I don't find it as helpful for planning a budget.

Looks like YNAB does have a free trial period so it might be worth checking out.

I'd love to hear if anyone else has any suggestions of other tools these days.

I’ve also been looking.

I use Mint just to have a consolidated view of my accounts, but as budgeting software it fails because there is no straightforward way to track cash.

The fact that YNAB charges a fee actually makes me feel better. Mint giving you the service for free makes me assume that they're making their money elsewhere, probably through data collection. And it looks like since I own YNAB4 already, I can get 10% off the subscription. I might spin up the free trial and see how it goes.

Mint should be avoided because it is made by Intuit, the company that makes a huge chunk of money by doing everything in its power to prevent you from finding the free tax software package they promised the federal government they would offer. (There is a very interesting Reply All podcast episode going into greater detail.) Seriously, f**k those guys.

If you have the old version of YNAB from Steam, that is what I have used for years and it works well. However you do have to input your transactions manually, they have a decent mobile app to do it. Personally, I like putting them in manually as it makes me more aware of where our money is going. I think you can import QFX or OFX files too if you want to do that periodically, but I have never tried it so double check if you are interested.

With the new subscription YNAB they offer automatic bank imports, which make things easier. Since it is a free trial yeah give it a shot and see what you think. I hate software subscriptions and I haven't moved to the new version yet, but like Rahmen said I might have to when the old OSX version breaks.

I agree on staying away from Mint, just because of the data mining and privacy concerns, and it is not great at budgeting anyway.

yeah, Mint sucks.

YNAB's online subscription mode does have the account-linking, automatic input for transactions. I was also resistant to it at first, fearing that I'd stop paying attention the way I did with early Mint's auto-input, letting it run on cruise control and thus negating the point of the software to begin with.

But YNAB still requires that you look over and approve of each transaction, tweaking inputs as necessary, before confirming them. All the account-linking really does is save time by removing the tedium of meticulous data-entry, allowing you to focus on where the money came from, where it went, and how you want to budget it.

Happy old Steam version YNAB user here.
I mean, as happy as knowing we spent too much on Restaurants (again) last month can make me.

Do you need a budget tracker, or just a money tracker? I mean, I started simply tracking my spending (after a number of aborted attempts with “budgeting” software, including YNAB) with an app called Spending2. It allows you to setup a rough budget - here is a set of categories, here is the allowance for each category - and then track all of your spending by category. You input each item (it’s not automatic, or linked to your accounts), and it has made my financial life substantially better.

The whole idea of simply tracking everything makes it much easier to maintain appropriate spending, especially combined with a set of automatic transfers and payments so that all my required spending happens without me having to explicitly do it.

I work as a budget and financial analyst for a large County Government. I created a spreadsheet for our budgeting and expense tracking but found myself falling behind because it was tedious and after working with automated software all day at my job to do the same thing found myself not wanting to do my own personal budget by hand.

We tried Mint and I hated it.

So we gave Dave Ramsey's app Everydollar a try and I like it a lot. You set up your budget (you can use a premade or customize it how you want) and then each transaction is tracked against the budget item you assign it to. There's a free version where you enter your transactions and assign them to the budget category that you set up or you can also pay for the Plus version that connects to your bank and that makes the expense tracking much faster and automates most of it once you get it set up. You can also view your bank balances through the app with the Plus version.

daveramsey.com/everydollar