Budget calculators are online spreadsheets with the bells and whistles to make saving money easier and better. Don't just dream about saving money. Use a budget calculator to make it happen.
A good budget calculator will return a sense of control to your finances. It is one of the best tools you can use when you’re dreaming of saving money. A budget calculator keeps you accountable to you, tracking when money is coming and going.
There are lots of budget calculators out there on the internet. Barefoot Money has done the legwork to rate the best budget calculators created for Australians, so you can reach your money goals sooner.
Colonial First State
Summary: fast and friendly
This is a nifty website. It is very easy to understand and follow. It asks you to input your earnings and expenses and at the end tells you where your money is going. The results can be downloaded as a pdf or spreadsheet (recommended) for you to keep tinkering away at as good budgeters are supposed to as financial situations change with time.
ASIC Money Smart
Summary: reliable and informative
As a government owned website we can trust ASIC has designed this tool purely to help us. Banks, on the other hand, create budget calculators to convince us to borrow with them.
The budget calculator on the Money Smart website is more detailed than the Colonial First State budget planner. It is basically a web-friendly spreadsheet which asks you how much you earn and spend in different categories and also provides a pie chart summary at the end. Highly recommended.
The Commonwealth Bank budget planner is perfectly functional. It does the same job as the other budget calculator’s out there but without the ease of use. It feels a bit outdated. However, before you skip it, take a moment to appreciate how it breaks down incidental spending (where a lot of our money goes).Instead of lumping everything together under the heading "miscellaneous" it makes you write down how much you actually pay for coffee, lunches, restaurants, groceries and cigarettes. This is good because it forces you to reflect on all the little things that dry up our savings. The summary at the end provides a category breakdown of expenses with pie charts including incomings and outgoings. The only failing is that you could not compare the categories against each other.
Summary: well designed
ANZ have crafted a solid budget calculator that is fun and easy to use. As you progress through all of the questions, it keeps a track of how much money you have left over at the top of the page. It just makes you want to save more! At the end, it reveals your savings potential if you banked your savings. Sure it’s a swish marketing tool but it gives you an idea of your true savings potential.
Summary: powerful and precise
While not as ridiculously good looking as its ANZ counterpart, the NAB budget calculator reliably collects all the necessary information and returns a very precise breakdown of where your money is going on a weekly, fortnightly, monthly and annually. If you need to work out where to cut back, this is the budget calculator for you.
Summary: simple but disappointing
The bank budget calculators usually let you input expenses and choose if they are weekly, or fortnightly. This one is more basic so you have to do more mental arithmetic to enter in the correct data. But, if you are going to use it, it is worth doing right because the output is only as strong as what goes in. Also, because it is geared towards the US market it is based on assumptions on pay cycles, retirement savings and student loan systems that are just different to Australia. At the end, the budget summary merely provides a figure of how much you are under or over budget. There are better tools out there.
Summary: detailed and useful
Infochoice have created a strong budget calculator. It asks detailed questions, allows the user to determine the frequency of payments e.g. car insurance can be a monthly or annual expense, and the summary at the end not only lets you know which spending categories are in surplus or not, and on what frequency. This budget calculator will give you informative insights into your spending habits.
There you have it, folks. A run-down of the budget calculators that will get your finances in the best financial shape you've ever seen. Now get out there and use one!