Has anyone tried this free budgeting tool?

Free is for me. I like ynab (except the cc bit), and I've paid for 1 yr, but maybe next year I want something free. Has anyone tried this: https://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/budgeting-saving/google-sheets-budget-template-review/

24replies Oldest first
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Active threads
  • Popular
  • Budgeting is a fairly personal thing, imo. Go with what works for you. It seems nice. I like Google's office suite. I'd say try it and if you like it go for it.

    Personally I've been doing free budgeting tools for years. Some of them I like and still use. I use Personal Capital for tracking my investments/Net Worth. I use Mint for the visualizations and because it has ten years of my data already and I have to do very little hands-on so I can pretty much just check it once a month or when I want to look at trends. I've used various spreadsheet-based budgets but to be honest those were always the hardest for me to be consistent with.

    But I still wound up paying for YNAB because of the way it encourages and almost forces me to be more conscious about where, when, and how I'm spending my money. There's some things I wish it had, and some things that drive me nuts about it, but it's my go-to app every day to watch my budget. I'm only six months in but I'm already pretty confident I'll renew next year. The peace of mind is worth the cost to me.

    Like 3
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Rain I like that idea, kinda a best of breed approach, not a one size fits all approach.

      Like
    • MsTJ
    • YNAB has given me back my future
    • Believer_in_YNAb
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    I pretty much agree with Maroon Rain.

    Question for you, what about the "cc thing?"  I have four open credit cards, which I pay, automatically, in full, monthly.  Haven't had to even look at that entire category group for months now, everything happens automatically and is always in balance.  I'm not aware of any "cc things."  What are you talking about?

    Like
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      MsTJ There's about 6 or 7 situations on the cc that get the cc category and the balance of the cc account out of sync. I've found 2 of the situations in my 2.5 months of using ynab. 

      Like
  • It's a basic monthly projection budget. The kind of budget that doesn't actually work for most people and the reason they are seeking out something like YNAB or one of the other "envelope" style competitors in the first place.

    Like
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule true, but there are multiple ways to budget (that's really what my post on socks was about). I made the switch to ynab because my 'forecasting' income software (what I called budgeting) was not keeping up with windows. My success story under the forecasting method spaning almost a decade is roughly $40k combined student loans paid off,  $30k house paid/sold, $50k house paid off before sale of house, cars paid off, and many months of income, 15% income going to 401k.  It was all good. Then I thought, I can afford a way way bigger house, nicer cars, etc. I was managing, or so I thought, but the new to us house had problems after problems ($7k out of pocket last year, up to $20k worst case this year, just trying to do it all slowly) the cars had problems $1k, all on top of the car payments, new house payments. I had enough in my old idea of savings to pay off the car loan and personal line of credit that funded some of the home work. But, that brought us fairly low on cash. That's about when I joined ynab and where I started to get some lengthy responses on the community about how to budget since I mentioned I wasn't a month ahead, I know everyone means well. 

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. People use an allocation budget because forecasting budgets don't work for them. So you are asking on a forum of people who are using an allocation budget if a free forecasting budget is the right choice. As far as I'm concerned, a forecasting budget is never the right choice because it's not reality. It's hopes and dreams. I used one for 15 years and never got anywhere.

      People who can budget successfully with a forecasting budget don't need a budget. They are just tracking their expenses and then looking back to see how well they guessed. You can do this with Mint, also free and it retrieves your transactions for you. Almost every personal finance software (including the free MS Money sunset edition) generally has a forecast budget built into it.

      Like 5
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I was asking in general on the tool. I've not tried it out yet, but as a template I wondered if it can me modified. I believe I understand both methods of budgeting now, but I don't see them as opposites. I see them more as different measures. The forecasting budget is like the average miles per gallon on my car (ok, on my wife's car, mine doesn't have that). And YNAB budgeting it like the instantaneous miles per gallon. Watching either will help me obtain a desired goal, and each have their pros and cons.

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. In that analogy, YNAB is the gas tank. You can analyze your MPG all day and it doesn’t matter  if there’s nothing in the tank. 

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Ben K.

       

      Ben K. said:
      I believe I understand both methods of budgeting now

       No, you don't. Not if you are even asking the question.

      The difference between a forecasting budget and an allocation budget is that in an allocation budget, the money's gotta come from somewhere. Just like in real life.  A forecasting budget doesn't enforce that, it doesn't force you to make priority decisions when you spend more than you did. It doesn't restrict your resources the next month, it doesn't make you recognize the effect overspending in one area has on your savings,  because it's based on projected income and each month is held in isolation.

      Like 1
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I think another part of this is the different tools we've used. I was using Crown Money Matters Financial Software circa 2007. I would forecast my budget as you describe, exactly 100% true. Except, when I put income in, I had to allocate it to separate envelopes (categories here). The default allocation was based on the forecast, that's true. But I could see the  envelope balance and add more to the allocation or less if needed. You're right, I had a set it and forget it mode, that I didn't use too often. Most often, I was reviewing the defaulted allocations and adjusting them either based on the balance or knowledge of upcoming expenses. That's really close to YNAB except there's no overall forecast to guide those decisions. That's where my little story comes in on the different measures of miles per gallon. Now, Crown went off the software I was using years ago and developed Mvelopes. I never used it, but from reading posts of converting Mvelopes users they not that far from my past thinking. I don't see it (being the software I used) as totally opposed to YNAB thinking.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. And that has to do with the spreadsheet forecasting budget tool you are asking about in what way exactly?

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. When the month to month is in isolation and based solely on income, there's no enforcement of the fact that the money's gotta come from somewhere. Because it's based on income and not based on a plan for all the money you have, you get to start fresh in each month and there's no accountability effect from previous months. That's the biggest flaw of a forecasting budget.

      Like 2
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I'm just explaining where I'm coning from. The shared free tool, was simply something I saw, the article compared it to YNAB and some others, so I wondered if anyone had given it a go.

      Like
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule My software, and I suspect Mvelopes rolls the balances from each envelope over from one month to the next. So, you'd see that envelope getting more and more negative.

      Like
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. And once you have even 1 negative envelope, then you can't trust the rest of your balances. However, it was never enforced to fix it. YNAB has a much better handle on that.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. 

       

      Ben K. said:
      nolesrule I'm just explaining where I'm coning from. The shared free tool, was simply something I saw, the article compared it to YNAB and some others, so I wondered if anyone had given it a go.

       I go back to my initial statement that you are asking the wrong audience.

       

      Ben K. said:
      My software, and I suspect Mvelopes rolls the balances from each envelope over from one month to the next. So, you'd see that envelope getting more and more negative.

       It's easy to ignore the negatives held in isolation in a category or envelope that roll over month to month, getting more and more negative. YNAB4 had (has) that capability. The functionality was excluded from this version of YNAB for a reason. The original intent was  to isolate CC debt from the budget and/or manage short-term reimbursements. However it's just too easy to abuse.

       

      Ben K. said:
      And once you have even 1 negative envelope, then you can't trust the rest of your balances. However, it was never enforced to fix it. YNAB has a much better handle on that.

       Exactly. That's ultimately the key to why the method is successful. In a real-world cash-based envelope budget, with actual cash in physical envelopes, you can't have negative money in an envelope. If you want to spend more than you have, you have to take money out of other envelopes..

      Like
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Ah, I think you agree I understand both methods. BTW, have you read the YNAB book? I know you're a long time user, but I thought I'd still ask.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. WordTenor gave a pretty solid review on the old YNAB forums. Nothing in there I don't already know from 5 years experience with YNAB and 5 years experience helping others learn to get the most out of YNAB.

      Like
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I was just wondering if you'd read the book recently. I don't doubt you know the material, but I think the book is quite artful in how to approaches helping people first see the need for a budget. They spend a lot of time reviewing the need, even after the first few chapters. Unless people see the need, they'll just think we're beating them up and leave without learning how to improve their situations.

      Like
      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

       The book was essentially a blog-to- book publication. While it's a simple introduction for people who are new to YNAB, there wasn't anything new for anyone who had used previous versions & followed the blog or podcasts even casually. I read it to see if they managed to make the new Rule 4 make sense (they didn't), but there was really no need to.

      I learned a lot more about why YNAB's style of budgeting was important and how to do it on the old forum, and now this one, from nolesrule , WordTenor, dakeinmaui, Patzer, Superbone  and some others I am forgetting than I did from the official material. Even now that there are "official" support people on this forum, they just don't have the bandwidth to provide the level of responses some of these "powerusers" can give.

      Like 1
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      adriana01 Yes, agreed. I lined up most of the book content with the blogs and articles. Still, I liked the focus on the ideas of YNAB. It really helped me learn YNAB budgeting thinking and terms. It was also very supportive of those new to the thinking. I agree there's a lot of knowledgable super users on this forum. However, we must be careful to keep the mindset towards new users with the long view in mind. I know DR isn't popular here, but his baby steps are a great example of the long view. Crown Financials has a money map, which is similar. Those approaches have a long term goal in mind, but don't hammer on it up front. They focus on small steps first, then build on them. Call it what you want, but early success motivates people. I think the book takes this view in many of the examples and it's very helpful. I'm glad there's a support community full of people volunteering their time to help others manage money better, let's just try not to chase people off with too much too fast. 

      Like
    • Khaki Storm
    • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 1 yr ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view

    I opened the sheet template. nolesrule had a good assessment of the tool. It's fairly simple. You have two separate buckets that don't really meet. You have your expenses, which you forecast, and categorize as you enter transactions. Then you get to see the forecast vs. the actual spend. And, you have your income, which is in another bucket. The income doesn't fund the categories. I'll agree with nolesrule, that's not going to be very helpful to gain control of your finances. However, it is only a template and very much like excel. I'd have to learn sheets a bit more (or just export the whole thing to excel), but it seems like the two buckets could be joined so when income comes in, then it could fund the categories. Again, I've not tried it, but it seems quite possible just following the way the sheet works now. What you would not have in the ability for the category funds to roll over from month to month without some sheets/excel magic that might not be worth the time. (I've done similar things, but you'd have to build the whole year and a lot of references between the sheets).

    Like 1
  • I know this is 7 months old, but I thought I'd say, I rifted off the free Google Sheet budget template to give me a budgeting tool with cashflow projection and account reconciliation. It's been helping my wife and I out a lot... https://michaelshipe.com/family-budget-spreadsheet.php. Hope it helps and best of luck!

    Like 1
Like Follow
  • 1 yr agoLast active
  • 24Replies
  • 553Views
  • 7 Following