I'm often asked which personal finance software is the best. I strongly recommend YNAB 4, the system I personally use. It is by far the best budgeting system on the market. The software is fantastic and the methodology is extremely effective. You can read the review or Try YNAB 4 with a FREE 34-Day Trial!
BugetMap® is a not so much personal finance software (okay, it’s not software at all) as it is a spending methodology.
The idea behind BudgetMap is fairly simple. You have a check register that folds out to give you columns to the right for categories. So when you enter in your check register that you spent $20 on ‘Food’ you would record it in the checking account balance column on the left, and also record the $20 again under the ‘Food’ column on the right.
See these tutorial images from budgetmap.com:
BudgetMap is Simplicity at Its Finest
BudgetMap’s simplicity is where it gets its strength. The fact that you’re simply dealing with a new type of checkbook, nothing more, nothing less, means that you won’t be spending your time doing a bunch of things that aren’t adding any value to your money management processes.
What could be simpler than recording your funds just one more time in an extra category field? Not much.
BudgetMap’s Value Proposition
I have no doubt that as you record each expense you make, your spending will go down. That has been proven time and again (why does Weight Watchers have you record each thing you eat? For the same reason). As BugetMap states on their website, this will help you:
- Save money consistently and
- Control credit card spending
I have no doubt that this is the case.
BudgetMap Downsides (and this is Major)
I love the idea that the user is recording everything they make, and I like that the person records it at the time of purchase, which helps in psychologically reenforcing the spending at the time of transaction. However, as society moves in a direction that is more and more cashless every day, it just absolutely doesn’t make sense to be recording everything by hand. When your bank is already storing all of your transaction information, why would you want to write it all down again (besides for the psychological benefit to keep your spending down?)
Along with the manual recording is the manual tedium that comes along with adding everything by hand. In theory, the system will work just great. But in actual practice, what are the odds that a person trying to get a handle on their money will all of a sudden come up with the time and/or desire to go through their checkbooks and start doing a bunch of manual math calculations?
The cost is $29.95 for three BudgetMap Registers. Three registers should last you one year, though if you have a lot more transactions than normal, it will obviously come up short. The downside with the registers is that you need to repurchase every year and there’s no easy way to dig into your historical data unless you want to manually add a bunch of register totals together.
If you do consider that it’s $30 (+shipping) for a year, that’s not too bad a price, even if you have to pay it each year.
BudgetMap Overall Conclusion
BugetMap, as a methodology is solid. Record what you spend in categories, using the traditional (and what we’ve found to be very effective) envelope methodology. However, the downsides outweigh the upsides of the methodology with manual math calculations and the tedium required in writing things down by hand.