The best budgeting software to help you manage your personal finances

When it comes to managing your finances, staying on top and staying in control are crucial. Whether you want to maintain a big money share portfolio, monitor multiple savings accounts or simply keep a close check on your grocery spends each week, keeping accurate budget reports are crucial for keeping track of how your money is performing and where it is going.
For many people, the idea of budgets and spreadsheets fill them with dread, but luckily there are now a host of online and desktop software solutions which can keep accurate records of your finances. There are many different options for personal finance tools for both PC and Mac users and the best ones can really help to take the stress out of budget control. Here are some of our favorites:

GnuCash (Windows, Mac and Linux)
www.gnucash.org
For those loathe to spend money on software, GnuCash offers a powerful desktop solution, and best of all it’s completely free. It is built by volunteers as an open source project and is effective enough for use by small businesses as well as for those wanting to keep track of their personal finances. It is desktop based meaning you have access to your accounts offline and its intuitive interface allows you to keep accurate records of your stocks, bank accounts income and expenses. Built firmly on time-tested accounting principles it will help you balance the books with double-entry accounting and professional-standard reports.

Mint (web based)
www.mint.com
Another option that gets a big thumbs up in the dollar saving stakes, as it’s also free to use. It’s a web-based solution which means you can use it on any machine with a decent internet browser, but also means you’ll need to have online access whenever you want to check your finances. Cloud-based systems have become a lot more secure in recent years so you shouldn’t have any concerns from that point of view, although there are many people who would still prefer the comfort of a desktop solution for their financial accounting. But if you’re happy with a cloud-based system, then Mint offers an easy-to-use and elegant option. You can access from your computer or phone and see all your balances and transactions in one place. It will also help you track investments, send you reminders when bills are due and even offers tips on how to save and get the most from your money.

Quicken (Windows, Mac)
www.quicken.com
The daddy of personal finance software from the same people behind Mint. This is the top choice in America and for good reason. It’s not cheap though and will set you back between $49.99 and $99.99 depending which version you want. But what you get is a powerful day-to-day budgeting package, with cash flow graphs, bill reminders, automatic and intuitive budget goals and quick and clear analyses of where your money is going. It can even help you plan for retirement, set up debt reduction plans and alert you to any unusual account activity.

Christopher Moriarty is a writer with a passion for personal finance. Christopher blogs about family finance issues including credit card charges and Mis-Sold PPI claims as well as other personal finance topics such as investing and mortgages