One of the best ways to control your money is to keep track of your spending. There are many different software programs that will do this for you. Today we are going to look at Pear Budget, an online budgeting program. You can try it for free for 30 days; after that, it is $4.95 per month to use.
How to Set Up a Pear Budget Account
Setting up a Pear Budget account is a five step process. First, you are given a series of expenses to choose as regular line items in your budget such as mortgage, utilities, car payments, life insurance, etc. During this time, you can also add expenses that aren’t included in Pear Budget automatically. (I included money to snowflake on our debts as a category that was not included.)
Next, you separate out your expenses between those you pay monthly and those you pay on an irregular basis such as once a year or every 6 months.
After that, you assign a dollar amount to each of your monthly bills. The program reminds you that your numbers don’t have to be exact, even encouraging you to NOT get up to get paperwork to determine the exact price on your monthly expenses. You can add categories and fix the exact amounts later in the set up process.
The last screen allows you to enter your projected income for the month.
Then you are given a template that shows your basic monthly expenses, your irregular expenses, as well as your projected income for the month. Ideally you will have a surplus, but if you have a deficit, you can adjust the numbers until you have a workable budget. This is the time to give exact numbers and to add any categories you may have forgotten previously.
If you are satisfied with your budget, save it by entering your e-mail and a password, and your free 30 day trial will begin.
How to Use Pear Budget
Once you have your budget set up, your next step is to enter your receipts and assign each expense a category from your budget. You can do this daily, weekly or monthly, whatever is convenient for you, though to keep close tabs on your spending, more frequently is better.
Pear Budget has apps for the iPhone and Android, so you can use the program on the go. If you are more low-tech, you can print off a spending sheet to see how much money you have remaining in each category so you don’t overspend.
Benefits of Pear Budget
A nice aspect of Pear Budget is that it does not ask for any of your personal financial information such as your bank account number and your credit card information. If the site were to get hacked, none of your sensitive information would be comprised because Pear Budget doesn’t even ask for it.
Pear Budget shares their e-mail, Facebook and Twitter information as well as their phone number, so you can always contact them if you have a question not answered in their extensive FAQs section. I use Pear Budget and have always gotten a prompt response to any questions I have.
Drawbacks of Pear Budget
The main drawback of Pear Budget is that there is a monthly fee, albeit a small one. There are some budgeting software programs like mint.com that are free. However, some people may be more than willing to pay the fee because their sensitive account information is not used on the Pear Budget site, protecting them from a potential data breech.
If you are looking for a way to track your budget and keep your expenses on track, Pear Budget may be just what you need. Try it for free. If you like it, it will cost you as much monthly as a fancy coffee, but it will hopefully save you much more as you learn where you are spending your money.
Have you tried Pear Budget? Would you recommend it?