Tag Archives: budgeting



Budgeting Buddy 1.0 is here

budgeting buddy logo

Happy New Year!  After several months in beta and several more months in development, I’m happy to announce that version 1.0 of Budgeting Buddy is now available!

What is Budgeting Buddy?

Budgeting Buddy is an app that helps you track your financial health.  I’ve tried several other tools and software to manage my finances, but none of them really resonated with me.  So, being a software developer by day, I decided to write my own.  If one of your New Year’s resolutions involves getting better with money, Budgeting Buddy might be just the thing to help you.

How is this different from other apps out there?

It’s simpler.   There are three steps you can take every month to improve your financial health:

  1. Create a budget.  This is a plan.  It’s you telling you where your money should go.  But, you’re an adult.  You should be allowed to buy a treat from the impulse aisle at Walmart or pick up a new TV because your current one isn’t quite big enough, right?  Wrong! No one has an infinite supply of money, and as an adult, it’s your job to plan your impulse buys ahead of time while saving some money for the future.
  2. Track your financial health and spending.  This your chance to see how well you stuck to your budget.  Do your bank and credit card statements match up with your plan?  Do you need to change your budget for next month?
  3. Set goals.   Got a credit card to pay off or a car you want to save up for?  Maybe your goals are bigger – pay off the house or maybe retire with a million dollars in the bank.  Budgeting Buddy helps you track your progress and get to where you want to go.

Budgeting Buddy focuses on making it easy to do these three things.

It’s more secure.  A lot of apps will offer to link your bank accounts so that all the statement transactions can be synced up in one nice neat place.  Sounds great, right?  Well, not to me.  I’d rather not trust some third party app with access to my bank login and account information.

It forces you to pay attention.  The other reason Budgeting Buddy doesn’t link to your bank accounts is you lose track of what’s really happening with your money.  Instead of blindly syncing all your transactions, you manually enter them into Budgeting Buddy every month.  So, instead of not really looking at the $100 you spent on coffee last month, you actually have to type in all those trips to Starbucks, making you more inclined to cut back.  By the same token, if you have to manually enter in that you only saved 1% of your income this month, you might be motivated to up your savings rate for next month.

Sounds great. How do I get it?

Budgeting Buddy is available on Google Play.  For non-Android devices, including an IPhone, IPad, laptop, or desktop; it’s available on the web at budgetingbuddy.com.



Budgeting Buddy: Did I Create a Budget This Month?

Messages-screenshot

It’s an app.  It’s a website.  It’s called Budgeting Buddy – where every paycheck is a choice – and we’re quickly churning out the new versions. It’s only been a couple weeks since version 0.6 came out, but we’re already poppin’ the tag on 0.7.

What’s New?

We all need reminders, even people like me who eat, sleep, and breath money.  Sometimes life gets distracting and it’s easy to forget about that monthly budget.  That’s one of the reasons we added a new Messages widget to Budgeting Buddy‘s Dashboard.  If you haven’t created a budget for the most recent month, you’ll see a reminder on your dashboard right when you sign in.  By the same token, if you haven’t recorded your financial health items for the most recent month, you’ll be nudged to get started.

As usual, this latest version of Budgeting Buddy includes a healthy collection of bug fixes and performance improvements including faster load times and more a more responsive screen.

Down the Road

Eventually, you’ll be able look to the Messages widget for personalized financial advice, budgeting team invites, and to find out what’s new with Budgeting Buddy.

Beta Program

Do you like free software?  Join the Beta Program.  Not only will you get early access to one of the simplest budgeting systems around, you’ll also get a free upgrade to our Premium subscription.  If you have an Android phone or tablet you can download the Android app.  If you have any other device with internet access, you can log into the website.  Just contact us to get started now!



Budgeting Buddy Version 0.6 is Out: Start Setting a Goal or Two!

Goals edit screenshot

Version 0.6 of Budgeting Buddy has been released!  Both the web app and the Android app have been upgraded.

Set Some Goals

The biggest change you’ll notice in Budgeting Buddy is the addition of a Goals section.  This is where you’ll be able to tie a Health Item to a goal.  Let’s say you’re saving for a car.  Setup a goal for your savings account, say $5,000, and track your progress each month.  You can also see what the Predicted Finish will be for your goal.  As each month goes by, you’ll be able to see how your Predicted Finish might change depending on how much you added to your account that month.  You might be falling behind or you might be surging ahead.  If you’re on the basic plan, the number of goals you can create at one time is limited to one.  If you’re on the Premium Plan, you can create unlimited goals.

goals screenshot

Bug Fixes and cleanup

  • A few of those annoying bugs reported by beta users have been fixed.
  • A small, but noticeable change involved renaming a few toolbar buttons.  “Details” is now “Items.”  The buttons still do same thing they used to, but “Items” just makes more sense.
  • The dashboard charts have been reworked and cleaned up and should be a little easier to understand.

Next on the road map

We will be adding a notification widget on the dashboard.  This will notify you if something needs your attention.  If you are on the Premium Plan, It will also give you suggestions on how to improve your financial health.

Further down the road

We plan to add more help documentation and videos to hold your hand while as you explore Budgeting Buddy.

We also plan to add a team feature, where you can join forces with someone else in your household and share a budget.  After all, budgeting should be a team effort.

Release To Manufacturing

Budgeting Buddy getting closer to progressing from beta to a 1.0 RTM version.  Please keep the feedback coming.  If you would like to join the beta program, please let me know.  This is your chance to get involved in shaping Budgeting Buddy at it’s early stages.



Introducing Budgeting Buddy: A New Budgeting Tool

Budgeting Buddy Dashboard

Over the years, I’ve tried out several different tools to track my finances.  I’d give each one a fair shot.  Sometimes a few days, other times a few months.  But, none of them really cut the mustard for me.  After each awkward foray into what felt like a foreign land of mystical money management, I’d usually end up crawling back to my old reliable friend, the Excel spreadsheet.  Nothing against Excel.  It’s an extremely versatile tool.  I’ve just always felt like I wanted something more.

Now, as you may or may not know, I’m a software engineer by day and personal finance blogger by night.  Software and money are two of my biggest passions in life.  About a year and a half ago, I decided to harness my love for software and embark on creating my own budgeting tool.  My goal was to build a tool that was simple and powerful without being overly complicated.  After months of building, testing, tweaking, and dog-fooding my software, I’m finally ready to let other people join in the fun.

Today, I’m releasing the beta version of Budgeting Buddy, the software that says “every paycheck is a choice.”  Before you get too excited, there is a caveat I should explain.  This is a limited release available by invitation only.  But if all goes well, a publicly available release won’t be too far away.

Here’s a taste of some of the features:

Capture your monthly budget

Budgeting Buddy lets you quickly jot down your income and expenses providing instant feedback about the strength of your budget.

Use envelopes without even trying

Budgeting Buddy uses the envelope system to track your expenses.   Each expense amount will go towards an envelope which will accumulate funds every month until you spend it.

Do some quick math

Need to quickly add a couple of paychecks or bills together?  Don’t reach for that calculator.  Just enter a simple equation into any money field and let Budgeting Buddy do the math for you.

Track your financial health

Keep track of what you own and what you owe and let Budgeting Buddy figure out your net worth.

Capture your checking account and credit card transactions so you know what your money is up to at any given moment.

Private and Secure

Budgeting Buddy uses SSL encryption and won’t ask for your name, bank account number, or other personal information.

Available at home or on the go

Budgeting Buddy works on your phone, tablet, or computer.  Everything you enter syncs across all your devices.

Do you currently use software to track your finances?  Does Budgeting Buddy sound like something you might try?



Do You Work Work Work Everyday to Pay the Bills?

Do you ever feel like bills run your life?

It’s an endless cycle.  You’ve got bills.  So you work.  You get paid.  You pay your bills.  More bills come in.  So, you work some more.  But, the bills just keep coming.  Your cable bill goes up, then your electric bill jumps.  But, your pay stays the same.  It seems like there’s no end in sight.  Your sole purpose in life is to pay bills.

LunchMoney Lewis - Bills

How do you break this cycle and get control? When do you work for more than just your bills?  Well, you can’t just ignore them and hope they go away by themselves, because they won’t.  You have to take action.

Make a list

Start by simply making a list of all your bills.  Seeing all your bills on paper can be frightening.  But you may have forgotten about some of them or you may have just convinced yourself that some of them didn’t exist.  Putting things in writing is a great way to be honest with yourself.  Keeping track of bills in your mind, it’s easy to fudge the numbers and play games with the truth.  But, putting actual pen to paper makes it little more difficult to lie to yourself.

Look for easy wins

Now that you have all your bills out there on a piece of paper, take a good look.  Is there anything on that list you don’t need are could easily live without?  Maybe you forgot you had an old magazine subscription you’re still paying for or maybe you have a membership to that fancy gym in the high-end part of town that you’ve only been to once in the last 6 months.

Now pick off the medium wins

Is there anything you could trim down?  Maybe downgrade your internet speed one level.  Or, cut out one or two restaurant meals every week.  I’m not talking about anything extreme.  Just small changes you could make to your lifestyle that would be fairly easy to adapt to.

Add a little elbow grease for some tough wins

Are there any bills you might be able to re-negotiate.  Cable is usually a good candidate.  Every cable company offers deals.  It might be worth your time to call up and see if the person on the phone can hook you up with one of those specials.  Insurance is another bill that can be trimmed with a little research and a couple of phone calls.  Don’t be afraid to shop around.  Is there another insurance company out there that can give you a lower rate on your car insurance?  Maybe.  But, you won’t know unless you shop.

Be cautious about cold turkeys

Some people take one look at their bills and are so disgusted, they think they need to completely cut out all restaurants, cut out TV completely, go to the library to use the internet, and sell their car so they can start riding their bike to work everyday.  It’s called going cold-turkey and it might work for some people.  But, chances are, you’re actually setting yourself up for failure.  it’s like dieting.  If you start out by completely cutting out entire food groups and chopping your calories in half, you’ll probably run right back to the food a few months later.  On the other hand, if you approach your diet with slow, gradual, measured changes, your chances of succeeding in the long-run become much better.

Free money

Once you have all your bills written down and you’ve gone through the list with a fine-toothed comb.  You should find some extra money you didn’t know you had.  You can actually start setting some money aside for things like emergencies, your next car, travel, or retirement.  You’re no longer trapped working for your bills.



Wait…Most People Don’t Have an Emergency Fund?

Where’s your rainy day fund?

More than 60% of Americans don’t have a sufficient emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. At least according to the people who responded to the December BankRate Money Pulse poll.

This is crazy to me.  What happens if someone in your household loses their job, or has to go to the emergency room?  The article also mentions an unexpected car repair, but I actually think that car repairs not emergencies, but expected events, and should already be part of your budget.  I would also add natural disasters and emergency trips to see family members who might be sick or dying.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but emergencies are going to happen.  Having the money to deal with that emergency sitting in a place that’s easily accessible makes the emergency far less stressful.

Do you have an emergency fund?  If so, how much do you have?

How do you budget?

Another survey question asked as part of BankRate’s Money Pulse poll is, “How do you keep track of how your income and spending match your budget?”   I’m amazed that 36% of the respondents keep a budget with pen and paper and 18% keep track in their heads.  I suppose, if it’s working, it’s better than nothing.

Do you keep a budget?  If so, what do you use to keep a budget?