Building a budget is one of the basic premises of personal finance. A budget can help you come up with a spending plan, so you can give each dollar a job and actually know where your money is going. In the past few years, Mint.com and YNAB (You Need a Budget) have reigned supreme in the battle of budgeting software, but a new contender is entering the ring.
Its biggest asset? It was created by personal finance guru, Dave Ramsey, whom many follow religiously.
EveryDollar is a new budgeting software created and endorsed by Dave Ramsey and his team. Many people credit Ramsey for their debt payoff success using his popular “7 Baby Steps”.
Now, he’s created EveryDollar to help users make the budgeting process easier and find the freedom they want.
I’m not going to lie — EveryDollar has some stiff competition. Mint and YNAB are huge in the budgeting software space, and now Personal Capital is gaining popularity. But I believe that EveryDollar does have several unique selling points that make it a good option for budgeting.
What is EveryDollar?
EveryDollar is an online budgeting software that helps users pay off debt, save, and give a name to every dollar. Following the principles of the zero sum budget, the software aims to give “every dollar” a job, so that everything is accounted for and you know exactly where your money’s going.
Using this budgeting system, you can allot a certain amount to several categories, including: giving, savings, housing, transportation, food, lifestyle, and more. You can also add your own budgeting categories, so it’s easy to customize to your own financial needs.
How Does EveryDollar Work?
It takes only a few minutes to create an EveryDollar account. Simply input your name, email address, password, as well as country, state, and zip code (currently it appears the software is available for those in the U.S. or Canada). Then you’ll receive a confirmation email, and voila, you’re ready to budget.
EveryDollar has eight main categories to help you get started with creating a budget. As I mentioned, you can add more if you don’t see what you are looking for, but I have to say they did a good job of covering the budget bases.
The website claims that you can create a budget in ten minutes or less — and it’s true, not just some marketing ploy. It’s easy to create an account and the software is user-friendly and easy to understand.
Start by adding all of your income and expenses. Next to each category, you can input the amount that is “planned” for each category. For things like your emergency fund, you can input your current balance as well as your savings goal. Within each category, you can make notes, track transactions or make it a fund. If it’s a category you will be updating frequently, you can ‘favorite’ it so that it shows up at the top.
When you make a category a fund, you are making it a savings goal — similar to the Mint Goals feature.
Next to the ‘Planned’ portion of each category, which is how you start your budget, is the ‘Remaining’ category. You can also toggle between ‘Remaining’ which is the default setting, and ‘Spent’, to see how much you have used of your budget.
Using the free version of EveryDollar you have to input all of your transactions manually. This may be appealing for users that are apprehensive about syncing their banks, but for users that tend to have a hard time keeping track of everything, it might be best to upgrade to the paid version, which syncs with your accounts.
After all of your income and expenses are accounted for, you can see where you are at in the Baby Steps journey. Dave Ramsey’s signature Baby Steps are intended to be a guide to help you get out of debt and build wealth.
The baby steps include:
- Save $1,000 emergency fund
- Pay off all debt using the snowball method
- Save 3-6 months of expenses
- Save 15 percent for retirement
- Start a college fund for the kids
- Pay off the house
- Build wealth and give
I haven’t gone in order, but I have completed baby steps 1 and 3. I’m still heavily focused on baby step 2 and baby step 5 and 6 aren’t applicable to my situation. Whether you agree with Ramsey’s teachings or not, I think the budgeting software is useful and it’s interesting to see where you’re at in his process.
|Cost||$0 – $99/year|
|Mobile App||Yes — Apple iOS and Google Android|
What I like about EveryDollar is that it’s clearly focused on being just a budgeting software. It’s not really trying to be more or less. The interface is simplistic, easy on the eyes, and user-friendly.
If you’re are looking for something that is less cluttered than Mint, then EveryDollar is a good option. However, there is one big difference with EveryDollar and Mint.
You can create a free account with EveryDollar, but you’ll have to manually add your transactions. Mint has a huge advantage in this area, because they will automatically import your transactions for free.
As you can see below, the free version of EveryDollar still allows you to do a lot, but if you want to automatically keep tabs on your transactions, you’ll need to pay up. Once you sign up for EveryDollar, you can try out EveryDollar Plus for free for 15 days — if you like it, it’s $99 per year after that.
For the purposes of this review, I only tried the free version, as even with the trial of the Plus version, you need to input your credit card to access it.
From what I read, it looks like EveryDollar Plus downloads all of your transactions each night, and then allows you to drag and drop them into each spending category.
The Plus version seems useful if you want to keep track of every cent and not take the extra time to comb through your bank account. According to the website, Plus members also receive call-back phone support, which seems to be unheard of in this digital age.
In addition to helping you create a budget and going through the Baby Steps, EveryDollar can also connect you with local advisors. I believe this is another area where they can make a profit on their service — through referrals. If you need advice on investing, selling your home, auto insurance, home insurance, or term-life insurance, they can connect you to local experts in your area.
For EveryDollar users looking to use budgeting software on-the-go, EveryDollar does offer a free iPhone app, which is available in the AppStore. If you’re like me and you’re an Android user, you’re out of luck right now, but be patient.
The website states they have received a ton of feedback and requests about adding an Android app. They say that an Android app is in the works, but they do not offer a timeline of when that will happen.
- Easy To Use — The interface is user-friendly and easy to understand
- Budgeting Only — It focuses only on budgeting (which can be good or bad, depending on what you want)
- Dave Ramsey Approach to Debt — Features the Baby Steps, for those getting out of debt
- Additional Help — Connects you with local experts, if you want advice on important financial information
- Ad Free Service — Doesn’t bombard you with ads or recommendations like Mint does.
- Apple App Only — An Android app is currently not available
- Limited Free Version — You have to manually track all your transactions with the free version
- Paid Service Not Cheap — The paid version is $99 per year -- while that is not very expensive, it’s hard to swallow considering all the other free budgeting tools out there. This is especially true for those getting out of debt.
Overall, I believe that the creation of EveryDollar makes sense for Ramsey as his next step in products and debt plan. For years he has been helping people get out of debt, so it seems logical he’d want to enter this space to help people budget as well.
EveryDollar is a good option for users looking for simple, back-to-basics budgeting software with little-to-no frills. If you opt for the free version, then you also need some more patience than I have to manually add transactions.
But if you want a more comprehensive financial picture with your budget? You’re better off with Mint, Personal Capital, or another alternative.
I have given EveryDollar 3.5 out of 5 stars because it has a good premise, but there are such great free options out there that do the same things as the paid version, I’d feel reluctant to switch.
In addition, EveryDollar definitely has that Ramsey feel — so if you aren’t a believer in his plan, or if you aren’t working your way out of debt, you may feel frustrated with the basic budgeting software.
Have you used EveryDollar? What are your thoughts?