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PearBudget: budgeting made peachy

If you’ve let this month pass you by and you’re still looking for that magic budgeting software that will help you get your finances back on track, I might have your ticket. They call it PearBudget. I signed up for an account a little over two years ago, and I haven’t looked back. It’s helped me tremendously in managing my finances and so I’m here to sing its praises.

What do pears have to do with budgeting?

I haven’t a clue. PearBudget originally starting out as a downloadable Excel spreadsheet year back, that quickly ballooned to well over 100,000 downloads. I was using one of my own spreadsheets for years when I came across this one. No flashy charts or progress maps, but surprisingly simpler to use. All neatly formatted and well organized. They still offer a free spreadsheet on their website. You can grab one here:  https://pearbudget.com/spreadsheet

You’re probably thinking, well if they still offer a free version, why bother with them online? Well at first, I thought pretty much the same. But although I was pretty happy with their spreadsheet, it has its limitations and I wanted something a little more. I also wanted something that could be accessible by both my wife and I. PearBudget works on an Apple or a PC and we can even access it on our phones, so I wasn’t (planning to be) the only one entering in all the receipts. But beyond receipts, it’s important to have all family members on the same page, talking about their finances. Budgeting is a team effort (well, unless you are single).

Now, I’ve talked about household budgeting before – the pen and paper way – but it’s true in some respects that the software makes things a little easier. I’ve used Quicken, MS Money, and about a dozen other desktop apps in the past. Although a lot of them had pretty good charting tools, in most cases I found their interfaces were clunky, and the way they handled the money coming in, money out, check registers, had me racking my brain. Too confusing and overcomplicated. After all, isn’t budgeting supposed to simple?

And that’s when I met pearbudget.com

It’s no dating site, just a well thought out budgeting and expense tracking tool. It costs $4.95US a month or $49.50US for the year, after their 30-day free trial and takes all of about 30 minutes to set up. Now I know you’re thinking, “great, another expense”, but for the money that we’ve saved using it, it’s been a small and worthwhile investment. It doesn’t try to connect to your bank and credit card accounts. It’s safe and easy to use. But if you’re looking for an automated budgeting solution, look elsewhere. PearBudget is manual budgeting. Yep, everything is entered in manually, one expense at a time.

Now some may see that as a disadvantage, but if you’re not actively working on your budget, and it’s all automated for you, you’re not really getting a good idea of what you’re spending on. Budgeting is about recognizing your own spending habits and finding ways to improve upon them. Whether through PearBudget, some other piece of software, a spreadsheet, or even pen and paper, when you’re manually budgeting, you’re more involved with your finances and know where every dollar goes. You get more frustrated about all those Big Macs you spent your money on than say the $100 a month you spent on “dining out”. While categories are good, they don’t tell the whole story.

But if there’s one caveat I have with PearBudget, it would have to be that it doesn’t offer any integrated charting tools that I got spoiled within just about any other budgeting software. Sure, you can export your monthly expenses to Excel, and create the charts yourself, but it’s way too time-consuming. And although I’ve gotten by for years without it, it’s something that got me excited when I first started budgeting. I think being able to see the progress I was making, made me want to continue. But despite that…

Here’s why I like PearBudget better

  • It’s simple. Clean, uncluttered, no ads, no gimmicks. Easy to navigate and lots of shortcuts to make entering your receipts a breeze.
  • It’s secure. You never have to give them your bank account numbers or passwords. I’ve heard a lot of people rave about Mint.com. Although I’ve never used it myself, I’m frankly not too keen on having any software linked to all my bank accounts. It might be free, but you’re paying for it through targeted ads displayed based on your data. With PearBudget, it’s just an email address.
  • It’s always there. Always online, always backed up, always accessible.

So the $50 a year is really a small price to pay for the financial peace of mind. Unfortunately, I’m not getting any commission off promoting them (just a free month, for a referral), but I highly recommend pearbudget.com. Rather than give you a run-down of all the features, just head over and start a free trial yourself. Give it a try. No obligations. Just some juicy budgeting software. So take a bite out of PearBudget today!

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