/ Money

How do you keep track of your household budget?


Are you the type of person who can account for every penny or the sort who doesn’t have a clue where their money goes every month?

Due to my job I’m often asked: ’What’s your number one money-saving tip of all time?’

It as though they’re expecting some magical unknown method to half the price of their grocery shopping.

What I tell them is far simpler. Set yourself a personal budget and stick to it.

Falling short

I imagine many people have tried this at some point, and most have failed miserably. It’s normally for two reasons.

  1. 1. They’re not motivated enough to save. The secret to overcoming this hurdle is to have a medium to long-term reward planned such as a family holiday, a season ticket for your favourite sports team or a deposit on a house. Or anything that’s more tempting than the short-term thrill of a new item of clothing or your daily takeaway cappuccino.
  2. 2. They have no way of tracking their finances. Many people can’t create a household budget they can stick to, because they have no idea where their money is going. That’s where personal finance software comes in.

Personal finance software

Personal finance software aims to make it simple to see where your money is being spent, and therefore identify the best areas to cut back.

From there, it should be easy to create a realistic household budget that will leave you with enough money for that big-ticket purchase in a few months’ time.

We run the UK’s most commonly used personal finance software through our intensive lab tests every year, so you can see which packages make budgeting a breeze. You can also identify which ones make this number-crunching seem more stressful than finding cash to pay the bills so you can stay clear of them.

Both of this year’s Best Buys are brilliantly clever programs that should help you save cash without breaking a sweat. I’ve been using the smartphone version of one of them ever since helping out with the testing process last year.

How do you budget?

The main thing I’ve learned since helping organise our personal finance software tests is that everyone has their own unique way of budgeting.

We’ve heard from some members who utilise online banking statements, while others like to keep hold of old receipts.

How do you manage your household budget? How effective is it? Do you think personal finance software could help you save money?


I use Microsoft Money. God alone knows why Microsoft scrapped the product…


MSM met its demise because MS admitted ( in a round about way) , it was no longer “profitable ” to maintain Banjo.


That is the standard excuse for everything. MS had not updated the product for years (the last UK version was 2005) and only one server was used to supply the initial installation & registration procedure. It would not have been costing them much to “support”. There were no real alternatives at the time it was dropped and that is still largely the case now. The Which review of related packages doesn’t reveal a likely contender for the MSMoney crown.

It is worth noting that MS sort-of changed their minds and produced a final release AFTER they had scrapped the package. The QFE2 version had all the functions of the original package but no longer needed the registration server to install on a new PC.

I’ve been a regular on the MSMoney forums on Microsoft.com for something like 10 years and the product is still well used.

Tim Jones says:
25 July 2017

I too use Microsoft Money. Mine’s a 2001 version and does everything I want from such a product. Yes, God alone knows why Microsoft scrapped it.


Apart from estimating the likely costs of moving home and the ongoing costs, I have never really budgeted, but money has never burned a hole in my pocket.

I carry out my own repairs and tackle many DIY jobs, and do not grudge the cost of tools I have collected over the years. Though I prefer to buy from shops if I can see the goods, I find out what is available online and look at reviews. If possible I wait until bargains are available. My father encouraged me to save and was my personal financial adviser over many years.

When I was younger I was happy to do without common household goods until I could afford them and rode a motorcycle until I could justify buying a car. Before the days of online banking I kept an eye on my monthly statements to avoid having an overdraft and my credit card balances are now paid off by direct debit.

I think if I payed more attention to money or watched adverts, I might be encouraged to spend more.


Many years ago when times were harder I started recording weekly expenditure in an A6 cash book, and that habit has stuck. I transfer that to an Excel spreadsheet that lists regular items, cash and “miscellaneous” each month. This enable me to put an annual budget together and monitor it. I do the same for income (much simpler!) and compare the two. Budgeting is sensible, in my view, to ensure you don’t overspend if times are a little tricky.

I also use Microsoft Money to keep track of all my accounts – banks, savings, credit cards, investments, etc. It gives me a really good overview of my financial position, reminds me of regular payments and when they need to be made, and helps ensure a bank account does not go into the red. Unfortunately it is no longer supported in the UK and may well not run under Windows 10 – which I will be using when my current computer is replaced. Which? recommend Moneydance so I’ll probably give that a try and hope MS Money files transfer successfully.


MSMoney files will not transfer correctly to Moneydance because Moneydance insists on using the Loose QIF export format which does not support all (or even most) of the MSMoney data so large quantities of data are simply lost. A new package would need to be able to import directly from the native Money files in order to have any chance of a full transfer.


I’m using Microsoft Money 97 and it works fine on Windows 10.