The B Word – Budget

Money Street

A budget. Woof. A word no 20-something likes to hear let alone consider living with.

If you have read my blog, you know that one of my goals is to be debt-free by the time I turn 30. I spent a few hours on Saturday organizing my finances, starting with a bit of research. Mobile functionality is important to me, so Apple’s App store was my starting point. I also checked in with a few personal finance bloggers to see what new tools are hot right now. I ended up trying 3 different applications: Pageonce, Mint.com, and Credit Sesame.

Reviews:

PageoncePageonce claims to have the largest share of the market with over 3 million users. This may be true in their niche was not the case for my search (Mint.com has another million on them). The application’s key functions allow users to manage personal banking, credit and travel accounts. There is also a feature for AT&T users to track their talk and data minutes. It offers a web based application as well as a mobile app that is accessible on almost any kind of device. The integration allows access to detailed billing statements, custom alerts and push notifications, and seems to be a great fit for the traveling business person who is looking to keep their expenses and reward points in order.

Mobility: Apple iPhone/iPod/iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, and Windows Mobile
Number of users: 3 million +
Account management: Money & Bills, Investment, Travel, AT&T wireless

Mint.com

Mint.com was not a new find. I tried their web and mobile apps a little over a year ago and didn’t stick with it. The service had trouble linkingĀ  my accounts and as a result sent me inaccurate updates too often. As I updated my account information, it seemed that this problem has since been resolved. Like Pageonce, you are able to organize all of your financial accounts in one place. Mint.com seems to offer more opportunities than Pageonce to calculate and view your overall financial picture by adding in personal assets and offers less control over travel and rewards programs. Mint.com also offers user-friendly goal setting and money saving planning tools that connect directly to your own day-to-day transactions.

Mobility: Apple iPhone, Android
Number of users: 4 million +
Account management: Money & Bills, Investment, Trends, Goals, Budgets, Savings

Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame was a gem of a find from @TheDigeratiLife. While setting up my Mint.com profile for the second time, I was reminded that I should check my credit score in order to make their app work effectively for me (plus, it is always good to know where you stand.) Unlike other popular “Free” credit score sites, Credit Sesame does not require you to sign up for a program with a monthly fee. It is actually FREE. What a concept. With a few security questions and your social security number, Credit Sesame will pull your credit score from Experian within a few minutes. Along with this free monthly credit report for your own monitoring needs, Credit Sesame also offers debt analysis and will search out savings opportunities for you.

Mobility: None- Web based
Number of users: Not sure. Hot young company.
Account management: Credit Score, Debt Optimization, Savings

In the end, I went with the programs that I think will best suit my financial needs. While I think Pageonce might be helpful for my travel plans, I just couldn’t get down with the user interface on their web application. Mint.com’s website is super user-friendly and is right in line with my goal setting aspirations. It literally took all of the guess work out of my b-word planning. It encourages you to set realistic budgets for yourself- not just including the basic monthly utilities and car payments, but everything from hair care and clothing to bar tabs. I will keep using Credit Sesame for a monthly credit check up too. I’m still in awe at what a killer find that one was.

Now I am organized and I am on my way! I have a budget (which I still hate the thought of and shudder thinking about… Oh, and I have already gone over it for this month). More importantly I know where I stand and where I need to go, and I know that I have the tools to make sure I follow through with it. I hear this budget *shudder* thing just takes some getting used to.

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