Previously a Life on a Dime rated the Five Best Free Budget Tools. The Goodbudget app came in at number two for its ease of use and the ability to upload bank transactions free via a .CSV file. As promised, here is my honest review of the Goodbudget app free version after almost a month of use.
***This post is not sponsored by the app nor do I earn any commission if you choose to sign up. This is just my honest opinion of the app and functions of the free membership.***
SET UP AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE GOODBUDGET APP
This is fairly easy to set up; I already have my monthly budget set up in EveryDollar so I am literally just adding envelope categories and budgeted amounts for the month. So far so good.
Account balances may be where an issue comes up; I am entering our current joint checking and mortgage balances (we do not carry credit card debt), but I am a little worried that once I download a report and import the transactions for the month to date things may already be skewed. (They were.)
I have already paid the mortgage and our auto/life insurance bill for the month. I believe that once I import the transactions it will give an incorrect balance on our mortgage. We shall see. I am a bit pressed for time, so for now I continue plugging in new envelopes and their budgeted amounts.
Fifteen minutes later I’m wondering why I ever bothered doing this; if it isn’t’ broke don’t fix it, right? You’d better know how much I love you and am committed to this thirty-day review because at this point I’ve realized HOW MANY budget categories (envelopes) I have and I’m manually entering them one. By. One.
ONE SMALL ISSUE…
I’ve hit a snag; there is a limit on the number of envelopes you can use with the free version. It is ten. I am going to combine all utilities and the cell phones as one. Then I’ll combine groceries and dining out into one. We’ll see if this works…
Okay, I’ve narrowed it down to food, gas, utilities, insurance, health & pharmacy, clothes, miscellaneous, kids, gifts, and tithing. Luckily there is a place for notes in the individual transactions so I can keep track of different sinking funds.
It doesn’t allow me to keep my Roth IRA contributions separate from our emergency fund. We also pay $6 for the convenience (don’t tell Seth Ramit) of our checking account options such as online bill pay which is now under miscellaneous.
The bottom line here is I would like more than ten budget categories. I’m going to have to look at this again with fresh eyes and see how I can make this work. If I can make this work on the free version.
If you have a very uncomplicated budget and no debt kudos to you, this might work. Our family of four with a myriad of budget categories (I’m specific) isn’t starting out so well with this. I can’t imagine how we would handle this if we had consumer debt.
IMPORTING BANK TRANSACTIONS INTO THE GOODBUDGET APP
Importing transactions appears to be fairly straightforward; log in to your online banking, select your date range, and export the transaction list to a CSV. So far so simple.
The trick is to get the formatting just right for Goodbudget. And there is very little guidance on the import screen on how to do that. It starts out easily enough – you click “import bank transactions” and then select the file to upload.
This took a few tries; not only do you have to delete columns that are irrelevant, but you also have to move all the credit amounts into the debit column (just keep them as a positive amount) because you have to delete that column as well.
There can be no empty rows in the CSV in order to import the transactions. Then you have to manually drag them over individually and either match them or save them as a new transaction.
After a few false starts, I figured out the easiest way to import bank transactions on the CSV report. Going forward I would advise editing the payee names on all transactions down; there is a character limit.
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF THE GOODBUDGET APP
It turns out I am a zero-based budget girl at heart. While this app is easy to use and does not require manual entry of individual transactions (big plus for some), I found it easier to set up the envelopes because I already had a zero based budget in place.
Goodbudget has some very convenient features if you’re willing to pay the modest monthly fee for the paid version, and it is simpler to upload several transactions at once on the free version.
If these are hang ups preventing you from keeping up with a monthly budget, by all means try it. The limitations however do not outweigh the advantages it has over the free version of EveryDollar, which I have used for years.
Now, if you’re not a fan of Uncle Dave by all means, use this app! It’s awesome! Just know that since it is envelope and not zero based you will have to have an idea of how much money you have to budget in a given month.
And, please do more research than I did setting up starting balances. Maybe upload transactions first. This part irks me even more than the fact that my true Emergency fund total is wrong in EveryDollar.
Bottom line, if you’re new to budgeting apps, or refuse to support certain personalities in the arena, this is a great free version to consider. Whatever app or method you choose to track your budget, I’m just happy if you follow one!