Today I want to share with you what I think is one of the best online money tracking tools available; and, due to the generosity of Charlie Park, the creator of PearBudget, 3 Frugally Sustainable readers have the chance to win an annual subscription!
All of the best financial guru’s agree that the best way to save money is through a budget and tracking your spending. In fact, one of the main obstacles to frugal living is reckless spending.
I first learned about the PearBudget through a friend a couple of years ago. The PearBudget is a really simple budgeting tool. It’s perfect for people who know they probably should budget, but who aren’t sure how to go about it. It’s streamlined format and excellent aesthetics make the task of tracking spending a pleasant one.
Of the many benefits there are to working with PearBudget, these are a few that I love:
- It only takes 15-20 minutes to get started.
- You can completely customize the categories — nothing’s pre-set.
- All of your personal information is safe and secure.
And here’s Charlie in his own words…
The other day, Jody Allen had a great post here on how to stick to a budget. I was working on a post that covered a lot of the same ground, but hers was so good, I figured it didn’t make sense to re-write the same stuff. Instead, then, I’d love to give you something! Before I get to that, though, a quick bit of back-story on who I am.
My name’s Charlie Park, and my wife and I were in desperate need of a simple budgeting tool. We’d just gotten married, I had my first job, and even though we were making money, it didn’t seem to be enough to cover our bills. We knew we needed something that would help us know where our money was going. I’ll try to keep the story short by jumping to the end — after looking and looking and not finding what we needed, we ended up building a really simple website to help people like us make and keep a budget.
The tool we built is called PearBudget, and it’s totally free to check out — you don’t need to enter a credit card (or even an e-mail address!) to build a budget and start tracking your expenses. Then, if you find that it’s useful (most people do!), you can sign up to use it beyond the first free month. It works like an updated version of the “envelope” system of budgeting, and it works well for those who use credit cards all the time, for those who’ve sworn off credit cards altogether, and for everyone in between. You probably fit into one of those groups, right?
Anyway, since this month is all about being frugal, and since there’s almost nothing more frugal than “free”, I want to give away some FREE subscriptions to PearBudget. It’s normally $49.50 to subscribe to PearBudget for 12 months, but I want to give away three annual memberships to Frugally Sustainable readers.
Follow the giveaway widget to enter to win. Then comment below before the end of the 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge, and tell us what your biggest obstacle to budgeting is — maybe it’s making the time for it? Maybe it’s getting everyone in your house on-board? Maybe it’s staying on top of what you still have available to spend? Maybe it’s something else entirely. We just want to know: What’s the biggest hurdle that stands in your way of budgeting well.
Three people will each get a year’s membership to PearBudget. And all of you can get a free month at PearBudget just by heading over and checking out the free budget setup wizard. Good luck winning the contest!
Kimm W says
The biggest obstacle or my hubby and I do stick to our budget is making the time 2x/month on (near) paydays to have a “budget meeting”. We have 4 kiddos, including 3 teenage boys, and life is BUSY!! But, when we DO have our budget meetings it helps us keep track of what needs to be paid (life with kiddos is full of “irregular expenses”) and what we have left for discretionary spending. It helps up be on the same team rather than me having no clue (since hubby does bill-paying) and him feeling like I’m overspending (even though I’m frugal, the kiddos do need clothes, etc… and there are some pay periods that are better for this type of spending). So, I’m preaching to myself to make time for money management so it doesn’t manage you!
I’ve been using the envelope system with some success. I’d rather have a cool online tool though! 🙂
Tracy T. says
I have 4 children and both my husband and I lost our jobs and now have to balance our home on financial aid along with pt jobs. Our biggest challenge is still allowing finances for our children to participate in school activities and providing the necessities to make it for the 3 month period. It seems we always have something that comes up and by the end of the 2nd month we are going to be very short the third month. I have tried so many different things to budget but they never seem to work. Our situation will not always be this way but for the next 3 years I need all the help I can get.
Melissa Q-M says
One of our biggest challenges is impulse spending. If we had a better sense of how much we were spending each month on impulses, and had a fixed budget set up for it, I think we would cut back significantly! Working on it. 🙂
Andrew Cooper says
My wife and I will commit to a budget but find it hard to sustain the motivation to consistently follow it. We get busy with life’s challenges and get away from keeping track and then when we see things are going to far we fight to get our finances back on track. I know we can do better but it the challenge for us is to stay on our budget consistently. Thanks for your consideration!
My biggest pitfall with budgeting is eating out. I hope to win one of the subscriptions!
One of my biggest challenges to budgeting is actually sitting down to track our finances. I feel that if I could track where we’re spending, then I can figure out the best way to save. Additionally, it’s hard to track where my husband spends money… it’s a few snacks here, a lunch here and there (he’s the one that ALWAYS has to pay when we go out to eat with his family), it’s just a bunch of little purchases, and before you know it, all his discretionary income is gone. He and I both know that if we tracked all our frivolous spending, we would realize just how much money we COULD be saving. Our dream is to save for a home, so we have to tackle the budgeting issue now in order to make our dream a reality.
Sasha Peterson says
Our biggest challenge in budgeting is sticking to it!! We struggle with eating out and over spending! I really need this subscription!! 🙂
Ashley M. says
I’m doing this for my sister in law. I believe it would help her a lot. She has trouble tracking how much she has to spend and not spending where she should.
Definitely getting everyone on board, and sticking to it. We tend to just go with the flow and “make it work”, which usually ends up going the route of plastic. Our income changes month to month so it’s hard knowing how much we’ll have. I think seeing everything in print would help alot.
Marie/Underground Crafter says
My biggest budgeting obstacle is just setting one up. I’m great about paying bills on time but haven’t been great about setting up goals for the “rest of the money.” This 23 day challenge has already got me moving on many things, and sitting down to set up a real home budget is my next goal. Tracking my expenses on the go is also an issue, since I work from multiple locations. I have been thinking about using Google Docs but Pear Budget would work well too :). Thanks for hosting the giveaway.
Don B. says
The biggest obstacle for us is remembering to keep receipts to track and act on them before they actually mean something. All of a sudden it is the end of the month and we have less money than we thought we would. It ends up that one month we splurge on something and the next we save every extra penny to make up for that splurge. Seeing where that money is going ahead of time and having a way to track in more efficienty would definitely be a more ideal alternative to ours.
My biggest budget obstacle is that my husband is paid every two weeks and the bills are due monthly. What a huge pain!
I would have to the ditto on the going out to eat. Going out it in general “entertainment” is expensive!
Biggest obstacle to any budget?
My husband 🙁
Our biggest obstacle in our budgeting is just not figuring out our needs as efficiently as we need to be. I always feel like most of the programs we have used in the past (all were free) and the charts I’ve printed just haven’t quite done the job. We tend to get caught up in the idea that next week when we get paid, we’ll be able to get everything re-figured too, which results in mindless spending.
Our biggest obstacle is just establishing the habit and sticking with it.
Soli @ I Believe in Butter says
I always mean to track more of my spending and come up with a budget, but for various reasons it has not happened. I can keep my spending in check but I would love a tool to help me figure things out instead of just doing it on my own.
Our biggest problem is knowing what we spend on what each month. We have no budget because we have no clue how much we spend. 🙁 We REALLY need this!!
Finding the time to think about our budget and planning the priorities for our money is the thing that constantly gets in the way of using a budget.
UGH! My biggest budgeting problem is that I get a tight budget set up since finances are really tight, and then another emergency comes up! In this last week alone I have had to fix the chain saw so we can still cut wood to heat the house and replace 4 tires on my van since they were either flat and unfixable or completely separated. I have put it off and put it off, but eventually you HAVE to do it. So there went all the money I was TRYING to save. Plus some!
I would say the most challenging thing in my budgeting is finding a format that is customizable. I don’t have a problem sticking to my budget I just use plain old Excel, nothing fancy. If this system is what you say it is then I would be interested in winning.
Karah @ thespacebetweenblog says
What a great giveaway! Sounds like an awesome tool. I hope I win!!
Ashley C says
Currently our most challenging thing is getting my husband to stick to his budget 🙂 We are really working on our budget though because we are hoping to buy our first home soon! This program would really help
Robin Wagner says
We spend too much money on eating out and not spacing out needed purchases. Hubby is reluctant to track spending–we could really use this tool!
A.E. Wiggs says
The biggest obstacle for us in budgeting is coming up with a reasonable grocery budget amount we can both afford and still actually works in the grocery store. When I spend hours of time and energy in the grocery store comparing prices and selecting healthy options and still come home feeling like I’ve failed, I end up so discouraged that I just give up. I know there are easy solutions for this, but this is the biggest road block we seem to hit over and over. And it seems when we finally find an amount that is challenging and attainable, grocery prices go up astronomically and we end up back at square one.
Mrs Tami says
My biggest obsticle is me. I am trying to learn as I go. Never had any training so I have messed it up plenty good, I have been given the task at our home to care for our finances, neither one of us is any good at it. Keep persevering. I will get this!
Our biggest obstacle is making the time for it and keeping my husband on board. We have very little money to begin with…coming out of almost two months of no pay checks. So “budgeting” right now is just catching up on back bills and hospital expenses.
It would make tracking so much easier
Hannah Elise says
Our biggest obstacle is probably our constantly-fluctuating level of gasoline usage (especially during the winter, when we normally switch from a 45mpg vehicle to a 13mpg vehicle due to local snow conditions; this winter has been very light so far, allowing us to utilize the 45mpg more, but it is still all over the place when it comes to gas expense). Another aspect is our feed bills for livestock, which vary depending on time of year, etc. Also frustrating.
Tracy Nault says
The biggest obstacle we have is knowing that our income doesn’t quite cover everything and that makes budgeting very depressing!
Melissa Edens says
We have one income and five children, ages 10 months to 12 years. We used to be really spot-on with a budget, paying off bills, etc. We follow Dave Ramsey now *in theory* but because we’re also helping extended family stay afloat, we haven’t really been following DR in practice. But it is time. Right now, between our family and extended family, we’re ALL just one step ahead of budget shortfalls. It’s stressful and I’m ready to be D.O.N.E. The budgeting method I used years ago, before children, was very involved and I actually really enjoyed it, but it could take me DAYS to get down on paper what I wanted to so that it worked out in the best way. It was – is – like fitting a puzzle together. And I do enjoy that process (I’m weird, I know!) but just don’t have time for it with five kids to take care of and homeschool. So here I am. Thanks!
My biggest obstacle is sticking to my goal for the month and not making an impulse buy! It’s hard to save for what you want when everyone else just goes out and buys it on a credit card.
I would love this budgeting tool. My husband likes the idea of an invisible envelope system. He doesn’t like carrying cash or me carrying cash. It sounds like this tool would really make him happy and help our spending. Thank you for offering this.
We are working on keeping up with our budget after my income was lost. Its hard to do and any help would be good.
Lisa L. says
This sounds like a great budgeting too. My biggest complaint is trying to manage on a cash-only system, but then it it so easy to let the cash slip through your fingers without realizing where exactly it’s been spent. We have no CCs which is great, but we have to get a handle on the cash expenditures.
My biggest obstacle to budgeting is my husband. He’s an impulse buyer.
My biggest obstacle in budgeting is fear. My husband and I talk about making a budget but we don’t take the time to actually do it. I use Quicken and run reports and actually made a beginning budget after listening to Dave Ramsey, but we didn’t even try to work it. The budget disclosed to my husband areas of spending that he didn’t realize. The budget caused much “discussion” and I felt terribly rejected. I had put all kinds of time into studying our current spending and allocating 100% of our money. I am a spender, although I think I am very frugal spender (can one be both?), if I see we need containers to organize a room, I buy them. My husband believes we can get by without and I just need to get rid of “stuff”. There is truth to both sides, but I am not ready to get rid of “stuff” that I find necessary—I’d rather put it in a cabinet or container and make it look organized. When my clothes are getting ragged, I buy more at a thrift store and occasionally online if it’s a real deal. He wears his clothes until they are see-through threads (except for work clothes) but even work clothes, in my opinion get looking too ragged. Thanks for the opportunity to win.
Tammy Doughty says
My husband and I just both approach money two different ways. He likes to pay for things as they arise and I would prefer to take my paycheck and split it up into jars (or whatever) and each paycheck allot it into the jars so that it feels like I am spending less per week as opposed to having to find it all at once. We just are not on the same page and as a result our finances are a mess. We have some personal debt that holds us back, not a lot, but it rests heavy on my shoulders and mind.
My husband has a budget, in his mind. This way we can both see it!
Erica Ferguson says
I would have to say that our biggest obstacle is time. It seems like with 4 kids and homeschooling plus I am a beginner homesteader that I first probably need to learn how to budget my time better.
My biggest obstacle to budgeting is sitting down to do it. It always seems like such a daunting task that it goes to the bottom of my list…which makes is that much larger in the long run!
My biggest budget challenge is having the time to sit down & go over everything thoroughly. I don’t feel like I have enough time–doing it the old-fashioned way–to keep up with our expenditures. We usually pay for everything with our debit card.
I have budgeted for nearly all of my adult life, pretty much using the ‘envelope’ system…and it has always worked very well for me. I also use a spiral binder for writing every bill every month…it would be nice to go modern and have it online. Thanx for the chance to win, Pam ツ
We use the envelope system, just started, has been hard to go in stores and not want to spend money, but slowly getting use to it
Happy Simple Living says
Because I’m self-employed and
Happy Simple Living says
Sorry about that glitch in my previous comment. I’m self-employed and my income varies from month to month, so that’s made budgeting challenging for me. I’d love to win this subscription and check it out!
My biggest obstacle seems to be too many unexpected expenses and not enough in reserves to cover. This looks like a great tool to keep me on track. Thanks for the giveaway.
My biggest obstacle to budgeting is not having every dollar accounted for “right in front of me”. I like to see charts or pie graphs, and I like having everything broken down into categories, but it seems like I have a hard time keeping track of things on paper. I actually started using Pear Budget last week for their free trial and love it! Things are really tight right now (my husband is in the construction business), so being able to continue using this budgeting system for free would be wonderful!
married 22 years, 7 kids and NO BUDGET!! trying now to do one is SO difficult. It has to be done, but how is another ball game…bad habits and no teaching./skills/knowlege can make things a real mess.. need to start with baby steps…but all the ones I read about seem so overwhelming, probably because I dont understand them….HELP..
Biggest obstacle is time! I’m fine at setting up the budget, but terrible about entering in what we’ve spent!
Amber Christopherson says
Setting up a budget is ok, but when expesnes just don’t allow for savings it gets very frustrating VERY fast, as a simple car problem can lead to a complete downfall and even just KNOWING that makes it so emotionally draining! Curbing impulse buys is tough: the budget doesn;t allow for any “extras” or “splurges”, so everything all “work/bills/work/bills” and that too becomes emotionally draining…all of which leads to that biggest obstacle for me: sticking to it in the face of feeling hopeless, not seeing a light at the end of tunnel. For an eternal optomist like myself, that is the hardest thing in the world, to truly feel like I see NO light at the end of this struggle, and it’s not for ME that it most bothers me, but my 2 year old son. THAT is my biggest obstacle.
My biggest obstacle is not not knowing how much income we will have each month. We are self employed and it varies greatly from month to month. It sures makes budgeting a challenge.
Stacie N says
My biggest obstacle is knowing how to start a budget. I know we would do so much better, but I don’t know where to begin…
Jennifer W says
My BIGGEST issue is getting the hubby on board! He doesn’t do the books (and doesn’t want to) so he has NO idea (and doesn’t want the idea) how money seems to go so fast and where it goes to.
Careless small purchases and.. not actually keeping track of purchases. We have a book to write things in and it worked well at first, until we got lazy with the writing and calculating on our own, etc. It would be nice to have something that does that for you!
My biggest obstacle is waiting for my dear husband to come alongside me on choosing to keep a budget. I know I just need to do what I can (and just read day 21 challenge–a good reminder for what I already know about my “excuse”)
I have been using MS Excel for years, which is only a degree better than doing it manually on ledger paper! I use Excel’s formulas & stuff to automate a lot of the work, but it is not flexible enough. I quit doing it months ago, because it was so darn time consuming, cumbersome, and boring and I always have something better to do. If there were a quick and easy … I would go for it in a heart beat! Maybe I am a little ADD? It is like getting a botched root canal to sit and do the budget. So I find excuses and then it builds up/gets backed up and then it is REALLY hard to catch up. However, I promised hubby that starting Jan 2012, I would get back to it. So this is VERY timely.
Time! Keeping up with children, home, church, & life in general leaves little time and energy to haggle with the budget. Some easy and non-time-consuming sounds wonderful!
Tabatha F. says
Getting my hubby on board!
My biggest obstacle to budgeting is that we have a variable income. I know there are ways to adjust and accommodate, but it’s definitely more of a challenge.
The grocery store for sure. I can’t resist when my store puts things on “managers special” and marks them way down. Granted they are a bargain, but it’s not things I really need. Between that and the produce aisle, where I ALWAYS overspend, it’s always the grocery that busts the budget.
Unexpected things that come out of no where…thats the hardest thing for me.
Biggest downfall is my system is a paper system and I despise flipping back and forth between pages to enter receipts – there has to be an easier way of doing it!!!
getting my husband to stick to it!
Cristina @ An Organic Wife says
My biggest obstacle is getting my husband to stick to the budget also!
Hardest thing is when I go to to thrift stores
adding up small purchases that don’t fit into the budget
My biggest hurdle…well I have more than one. I find it hard to find the time to really sit down and just do it. I know initally it will take a while to set up. Finding that time is a big issue for me. Also, feeling like I will be a failure at it. I am reading the free ebook by Barry Meyers right now on budgeting. Hopefully I will get some great tips to start me in the right direction. And I also have a fear that I won’t budget enough in some area and then I will be up the creek. Ugh…well I hope to finish the ebook soon, and try to get started on my attempt at budgeting!
Tara Schmude says
My biggest obstacle would be setting up a specific time to do bills and budget every week. That, and having a working computer that doesn’t take forever to use helps too…;)
Carla Taylor says
This may sound flippant, but it is really true…….the hardest part of budgeting for us is that there is not enough income. I also need a user friendly system to keep track of everything.