We all know we should eat healthy, get plenty of sleep at night, exercise, and be proactive with managing our finances. And yet we’re a society that hits the drive thru, stays up too late to get up early, sits on the couch Netflix binge watching and lives on credit cards. We want all the benefits without being disciplined enough to earn them. Wouldn’t it be nice if just one thing in our life could be easy?!
I’m at least 20 lbs. overweight, sleep and 4 small children don’t mix, and I only run if being chased…so don’t look for my expertise on the first three of those items above. However, we’ve done pretty well with our finances. In fact, we were able to become 100% debt free in 2011 (including our home) and have never looked back. That means one of two things: 1) we make a ton of money and can blow it all at will, or 2) we make a budget every month and stick to it. Trust me…it is #2.
We religiously do a budget every month to account for every dollar of income we expect to receive. We’ve been using the same budgeting system (basically) since getting married and have only tweaked it slightly over the years. I’ve used this same style of budget as a financial coach to teach hundreds of families to take control of their money. So if someone comes along and suggests I try doing a budget differently, I’m a skeptic. But my system has some flaws and it isn’t for everyone. More on that later.
Most of the time when I ask why someone isn’t doing a budget, I hear, “it’s too hard” (or similar). So my ongoing quest is to find the simplest, most no-nonsense budgeting methods/tools to share and recommend. Today, I want to talk about Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar Budgeting Software. Why? Because I’ve been using it for the past couple of months and it has some merits that are worth talking about. Full Disclosure: I contacted Ramsey Solutions and asked if we could partner with them on this. They agreed and gave me a free upgrade to their EveryDollar Plus, which has a few more features over the free version, so I could test it out for my review.
It should be no surprise to anyone who knows us that we’re big fans of Dave Ramsey and used a lot of what he teaches to become debt free (including our home) in 2011. We’ve coordinated Financial Peace University (FPU), read just about everything he and his team has published, and have been to events his team puts on. Simply put…we are HUGE Dave fans. #superfan
Just because we love Dave doesn’t mean we’re gonna love his budgeting software though. Remember my ongoing quest from a paragraph or two ago? If it isn’t simple and no-nonsense, I’m not interested. So how does EveryDollar measure up?
- It is EASY. I won’t get into a full demo because the help center at everydollar.com is really good, but I cannot overstate how easy this budget software is to use. With the free version of EveryDollar, you build your budget and enter transactions against the various categories you set up. This keeps you honest on both the planning and execution of your budget. With EveryDollar Plus, you can drag and drop transactions from any online banking accounts you set up.
- It does the math for you. No calculator required. 😉
- It is 100% web/app based, so you can look at and work on your budget just about anywhere.
- It lines up perfectly with Dave’s principles on getting out of debt and living on a budget. EveryDollar works well with Dave’s Baby Steps and also connects with his network of Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs).
- Budgets can be carried from one month to the next. Even though every month is different, every month has lots of similarities to the last one. EveryDollar lets you carry things forward so you can get a jump-start on your budget from month to month.
- The EveryDollar App is only available for iPhone at this time.
- Several other tools out there will sync with your online banking for free. This feature with EveryDollar requires EveryDollar Plus, which costs $99 per year.
- Let me be picky for a moment. The funds feature in EveryDollar is a great idea, but I don’t like the way it works. Let’s say you want to save $800 toward something that is 4 months away. That means you need to save $200 per month, right? EveryDollar lets you put in how much of this month’s income you want to set aside and your total, but there is no way to put a “due date” on it. So you don’t really know if you’re ahead or behind schedule on saving for something. This is a minor point, but I don’t really like it. Side note: After reviewing the software for a month or so, I submitted a support ticket to see how Ramsey’s team would be on responding. I got a call the day after I submitted my ticket online and talked to a friendly guy who even asked me how my baby steps were going. 🙂 Support gets a BIG thumbs up.
Do I Recommend EveryDollar?
Crystal over at Money Saving Mom did a great comparison post on several online budget software and I’ve tried several budgeting systems myself just so I can be familiar with how each one works. None of them have made us switch the way we do our budget, because the method we use now works for our family and we actually use it (think about it – that’s a pretty big deal). So will I switch? No.
However, EveryDollar is one of the simplest, easiest-to-use budget interfaces I’ve found and makes it hard to not do a budget that accounts for every dollar of expected income. It is free (unless you opt for Plus), it is web/app-based, and it lines up with Dave Ramsey’s teachings. If you have a system that works perfectly for you now and you do the budget every month and stick to it, you shouldn’t switch either. But will I recommend EveryDollar to others as an easy way to do budgeting or for those looking for a solution if what they do now doesn’t work? Definitely.