Do You Use Any Online Household Budget Management Software?

If so, which one do you use?

We’re kind of money nerds, and when we move to a new place, we like to closely monitor our spending for a month or two. We want to see where our money’s actually going.

A few years ago, we would have used Microsoft Money for this task. I was pretty happy with that product. However, we’re on Macs now, and we’d prefer a solution that isn’t tied to one computer.

So, we’re hoping for a nice lightweight, modern solution. I’ve done a bunch of searching, and many of the options feel very old and busted, or offer way, way too much functionality for what we need.

The closest we’ve gotten is OurCashFlow, but that still seems like overkill. For example, they want us to import our banking data into their system. For one, that’s scary, and for another, I don’t really need them to know about our accounts. I basically just want to track outgoing expenses.

Any bright ideas? Otherwise, I guess we’re going to go with a good old Googles Docs and Spreadsheets, uh, spreadsheet.


  1. Hey Darran,

    Probably way OTT for home usage but I’ve been toying with recently.

    Maybe I missed a post, but have you moved to Malta permanently & why? Your country hopping is great! Do you run the business remotely each time?

    -Robin (TechCamp & BarCamp Dublin!)

  2. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Robin: We’re spending six months in Malta, and indeed running the business remotely from here. So far so good in that regard.

  3. Why not use the spreadsheets on Google? Just code each line for each expense with a letter corresponding to a spending category, or revenue category, and then either do a value look up on another page, or sort on category.

  4. Dale: Yeah, that’s the alternative. However, there’s probably some basic additional functionality that I wouldn’t mind. For example, I love me a chart. I can generate those in Excel, obviously, but a vendor is probably going to think of some useful charts that I wouldn’t consider.

    Additionally, a vendor will hopefully have prepopulated all those categories, which I’d certainly appreciate.

  5. I use mvelopes and I like it. It also uses the importing bank information methodology, which for me I love because I am lazy and if a system requires me to manually enter all my transactions or manually import OFX files, I know I’ll end up not doing it after a while.

    With Mvelopes it downloads everything for me so all I need to do is categorize it and manually enter cash items.

    One (possible) downside is its a completely Flash interface, but it works fine on my Powerbook.

  6. Yeah, normally the banking wouldn’t be such a big deal, but we’re finding Malta a largely cash-based society. So, there’s little benefit for the trouble and risk of doing a banking import.

  7. Anyone wonder why banks haven’t just built this into their online account management software? I mean how hard do they suck that they can’t address the key issue their customers are concerned with — managing their money flows?

    1. ( has been selling thier Personal Finance Management and Small Business Finance Management solution to financial institutions. The RIA is based on Flash/Flex and touts thier auto-categorization and budgeting features. If you go to thier website you can request a free trial. There is a paid direct-to-consumer version coming to the web.

  8. I’ve tried a few things, but nothing beats the Google spreadsheet I set up for us. I’ve got it customized with just as much info as I need, and no more. I hate the import function on prefab software. While it has all the right values, I still have to manually configure it to sort into the appropriate categories, and I haven’t seen a program yet that effectively automates the process (why can’t I set up a rule that expenses with a certain dollar amount or with a certain vendor are automatically named and categorized? I hate having to edit each instance of a recurring payment!)

    Anyway, I’m still unimpressed with the offerings out there. They overcomplicate a simple process.

    And as James says, it’s ridiculous that banks don’t have an integrated system built into their websites for this.

  9. I’m currently using Mvelopes, which I like in theory, but the service has only actually worked with my bank for a total of maybe 3 weeks out of the 3 months I’ve been using it. Their tech people are supposed to be working on it, but right now, it does not download any transcations from my bank (although I checked in advance and my bank was on their supported banks list). They suggested I change banks (not an easy thing to do when you have all of your accounts set up already). They don’t know when they will be able to fix the problem. Anyway, I doubt I’d recommend the service unless you know someone else who has been able to use it with your bank. What about Yodlee? Does it do the same thing? I’m looking for something similar to Mvelopes – a web based system I can access from my Mac at home or PC at work and check on all my accounts at one time. I don’t have time to download transcations from all of my accounts so I need something that will talk to my bank & credit card companies to get all of the transactions. Has anyone tried Yodlee?

  10. Yodlee is great for a lot of things, but not for budgeting. That’s what I’m specifically looking for now. Mvelopes is too convoluted for me and Wesabe doesn’t really have any budget planning tools. I’m hoping to try Mint but haven’t seen it yet. Any other online budget tools that automatically download transaction data?

  11. Mint is strictly a U.S. company now – I looked for BMO and couldn’t find it – just a thought.

  12. My search for online budgeting brought me here. And I’m sorry to say my experience with Mvelopes wasn’t too hot. Even though my bank was listed, I never could get the download. This was after several hours of conferring with my bank and Mvelopes online customer service. They don’t have anyone on phones which turned out to be extremely inefficient for this problem. I’m still searching…

  13. Hi there,

    I read about some Google Spreadsheet here. Would you publish this spreadsheet for others, too? Maybe it’s exactly what I am trying to set up at this very moment.


  14. I use It’s very inexpensive and
    they offer a 90 day free trial. Supports electronic
    banking, split transactions, etc. Very Nice.


  15. I got to trial OurCashFlow recently. It tracked my spending, stocks, and savings goals. Incredible flash interactions and animations … I’ve seen nothing like it. They sell it to banks and stuff.

  16. Hi! I’m using and it’s a fair alternative to the personal finance programs discussed here. Apart from the basic expense tracking and budgeting tools, it allows me to handle multi-currency transactions, organize my events and set reminders that can be synced with my Google calendar.

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