As long as people have had money, they’ve had trouble saving it… even keeping track of it. Back in the day, the only way to do it was to use a pencil and piece of paper and write it all down.
When computers came along, one of their first uses was to automate the process. But this basically just exchanges pencil for keyboard: you still have to sit somewhere and input everything.
But now there’s a new generation of web-based software that promises to make the personal budgeting process practically automatic. And it’s free. There are several sites with names like Mint, Geezeo and JustThrive.
You don’t buy software… you just go to a website and sign up. You input your bank account info. How much you want to spend in each category. And a goal, like creating an emergency fund or paying off credit cards.
And from that point forward, the site tracks where you’re spending your money and compares your expenses to your budget. If you’re going over your budget, they send you an email.
Some sites also have a community, so you can hook up with other users and exchange ideas.
How do these new personal budgeting services make money? They have ads on their sites, and they make referral fees for suggesting where you might get a higher savings rate or lower credit card rate.
Bottom line? The internet has revolutionized virtually everything from how you shop to how you watch TV. Why not try it to see if you can stick to that budget this year?