Every year for the past five or six years I’ve run out to buy Intuit’s updated version of Quicken.
It’s shipped free with new iMacs but I’ve probably paid a few hundred dollars for something that just balances my check book. I need more. I need a budget. Budget. Budget from SnowMint.
I looked around and there’s no shortage of check book applications for the Mac. Intuit’s Quicken is the big name, but it pales in a feature comparison with its Windows brother.
That makes me mad. Then there’s that annual Quicken tax, where I pay to upgrade (rather than buy a new Mac). No more.
I settled on something that made sense, works well, costs less, is less filling, and, finally, does home financial tracking and budgeting the way I was taught.
The envelope method. I finally broke the stranglehold from Intuit’s Quicken and I’m a better person for it.
What’s the “envelope method?” I saw this as a child growing up in the Midwest. My grandparents and parents would take money and stick it into envelopes for each payment that would be due.
It was a simple, graphical, efficient (except for the cost of envelopes) method to manage money.
SnowMint’s “Budget” works like that, except it’s all on your Mac and you don’t have to buy a stack of envelopes.
The so-called Envelope Method assumes that you pay bills periodically. Money comes in, money goes out, but it goes out and gets tracked on your Mac.
The “envelopes” would hold money for rent, food, insurance, utilities, car payment, and so on. When the bill was due, the envelope was right there, ready to make the payment.
The Mac version of Budget dispenses with the envelopes but keeps the same organization structure. Not only does Budget keep track of how much money is in your bank accounts, it tracks what gets spent in your “envelope budget.”
That’s the amount of money you pay for whatever you need each month. The actual budgeting becomes automatic. That’s not so easily done in Quicken, yet it’s easy to adapt for a home budget.
Budget handles credit cards, savings accounts, checking accounts, just like Quicken and other financial programs for the Mac.
The difference is in how you set up the monthly budgeting process. Budgeting? We hate that, right? You’ll actually enjoy setting it up and using it, via the “envelope method” in Budget.
I was tired and angry with Quicken and couldn’t figure out what the 2007 version did different than the previous versions (other than take more money from my check book—wait, that’s what it’s always done).
Trying Budget was a pleasure. Start it up, tell it about your accounts (checking, savings, credit card, and so on), put in the latest balances. Easy, right?
Then, tell Budget about your income, and where it comes from, and how much it is. Again, easy, right?
Now it’s time to define the envelopes in the “envelope method.” Utilities, food, gasoline, insurance, travel, rent, mortgage, medicine, monthly Apple Store payments, and so on.
Envelopes are like accounting categories (accounts) but easier to understand, easier to set up, and handled automatically by Budget.
One of the cooler aspects of Budget is the same thing I saw my parents and grandparents do with their envelope system. Set money aside for fun things.
Budgeting doesn’t mean just bills. An envelope can be set up for a monthly dinner out (or, weekly). Or a weekend getaway (Jack, are you paying attention?). You get the idea.
No longer is fun fun and separate from the harsh realities of budgeting. It’s all the same, in the same place, and easier to do.
Once you’ve figured out envelopes and income, then you tell Budget how to distribute your income into the envelopes; all at once, once a week, twice a month, whatever is easiest for you.
Then it’s just a matter of distributing funds and your budgeting is already done.
Trust me. I didn’t take moving from Quicken lightly. Quicken I knew. Budget was new. But the most difficult thing was simply setting up the accounts, and getting Budget to hold account and credit card information.
After that, it was 1-2-3 for Budget to do what it does. I was sorta faked out, as I expected budgeting to be painful (it is in Quicken, even after all these years). Budget is budget priced at $29.95.
I don’t want or need a full-fledged accounting system to handle a few checking and savings accounts and a few credit cards.
What I especially appreciated was what I call the “Status Envelopes.” One click let me see how the monthly budgeting was going, and how much money Budget set aside for each envelope. Try that in Quicken.
For whatever strange reason, a budgeting and financial method from the past, made its way to the future. Well, the present. And it works.
Click Here for a details page and a download link. Budget is at version 5.0, so it’s mature and runs fine on OS X Panther or Tiger.
There’s a handy tour of Budget online, so as you’re setting it up on your Mac, you can follow the install, step-by-step.
There’s a Quicken import function, though not all my Quicken information was pulled into Budget—probably because the metaphor for handling and budgeting money is sufficiently different. All the budget and expense data was fine.
I’m just glad I found something that works, that I feel good about, and is different than the annual Quicken Tax.
The Mac has plenty good applications to manage your money. What’s working for you? Quicken or something else? Share your experience with Mac360 readers in the Comments section below.