GoodBudget

In 2009, staffers at Dayspring Technologies created an experiment. They wanted to create virtual envelopes-basically capitalizing off of the age-old budgeting tool of dividing up your spending into envelopes to help you manage your spending. As time has gone on, they've added a number of other features like checkbook reconciliation, accounts, recurring transactions, etc. based on user feedback. GoodBudget believes that budgets reveal priorities, so by seeing whether or not your spending matches up with what you say you value in life, their software can help you to take steps to better align priorities with spending habits. What they call the "Good Budget Way" also incorporates using safe community relationships to improve your budgeting and encouraging giving generously to those in need.

The Good

  • Features
  • Mobile App
  • Free Version

Becoming a GoodBudgeter includes the following:

  • No more surprises: With the tried-and-true envelopes system, you won't be caught off guard by a bill or sudden expense.
  • Stay on the same page: Budgets sync between devices keeping spouses in the loop.
  • Spend on what's important: Craft a budget that reflects your values.

Features

GoodBudget accomplishes these goals through the following main features:

  • Envelope budgeting system: Make envelopes for all of your budgeting categories. Set aside money each month in each envelope.
  • Sync & share budgets: Avoid arguments between spouses over who spent what.
  • Save for big expenses: Plan ahead and save for big expenses months in advance so that you can pay cash for big purchases like cars and vacations.

GoodBudget doesn't attempt to be anything revolutionary. They say it themselves-they're going for a tried-and-true method. What they do seek to do is make the process of budgeting easier by letting the technology do the work for you.

Mobile App

The software can be accessed via phone or home computer, so you can see a breakdown of spending while on the go. The apps are well reviewed on both the iTunes store and the Android Marketplace, often described as initiative and helpful.

Free Version

GoodBudget offers a free version and a paid version. The free version offers basically the exact same features, but limits how many envelopes, accounts, devices, and years of history stored. The free version also doesn't come with any live support. However, the features are all the same.

The Bad

  • Limited accounts
  • Missing features
  • Support

Limited Accounts

While the paid account does offer unlimited accounts, the free account only allows you to link one account, which probably isn't enough for most people. Competitors like Mint are also free and allow unlimited accounts. The free GoodBudget account isn't going to let you add all credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, student loan, or investments. While it's nice that the free account lets you give GoodBudget a try, most likely, you'll end up needing to upgrade to the paid account.

Missing Features

One noticeably missing feature is the ability to take a picture of a receipt or scan it in. The app makes it pretty easy to manually enter purchases, for example those many via cash or an unlinked account, but the photo feature would make things even easier.

Support

The free account doesn't include any support from representatives, only the online community. The paid account does have email support, but no phone or chat support. This also means that there is no way to counsel with financial experts.

The Bottom Line

GoodBudget has a vision to make budgeting easier, more transparent, and more reflective of your personal values. Their vision is a lot more personal than many of their competitors that really only talk about money. GoodBudget believes money holds a lot of power beyond simply saving or spending it.

Nearly everyone who uses GoodBudget has really positive things to say about it. It's well reviewed with iTunes, Android Marketplace, and other review sites. The interface is relatively simple, as is the process of budgeting. They rely on the tried-and-true method of envelope budgeting, so there's not much of a learning curve to this simplistic budgeting system. However, that doesn't seem to detract from its effectiveness. By digitalizing the envelope budgeting process, GoodBudget does basically all of the work for you. Users have been extremely positive in their reviews about both the usability and effectiveness of GoodBudget.

There are a couple of missing features-the ability to take a picture of receipts and the support offered. Only the paid version offers personal support, and it's only email support at that.

The free account offers nearly all the same features as the paid account, but it does limit you to one account, 10 envelopes, 2 devices, and 1 year of history. Since most users are likely wanting to track more than one account, you may end up upgrading to the paid account, but at $5 per month or $45 per year, it's relatively affordable.

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