Budget Design Tool
I’ve been fairly silent for a couple of weeks, and there’s a good reason for this.
I’ve been brushing the dust of some old coding skills to design a budget tool for an upcoming series I’m going to call 5 Steps To Taking Control Of Your Finances.
The tool is designed to help you in a number of ways:
- Design a budget with a logical structure
- Take daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual numbers and make them comparable easily
- Not accidentally forget any categories of spend by listing them out for you
- Provide a clean and printable output
- Generate some basic analysis of your budget for you to look at
- Save the budget so you can return to it later or share it with others
Read on to see what the tool does and for the link to use it – it’s free!
Why I Thought This Would Be Useful
I was writing the second instalment of this series where I advise people to create a budget that they can live with, and leave nothing out. I was trying to create a process that would allow anyone to create a complete budget and analyse it, when I realized how long it would take someone to go through the entire process.
It’s a logical process, with a set number of steps, so it can be systematized. So I thought, why not create tool that allows people to create these budgets, save them, examine them and modify them over time?
I gave myself a week. My coding skills are a little old, so it took about twice as long as I thought, but the basic, preliminary version is ready.
A Request For Help
This is what a software engineer would call Version 0.1, or a Beta-test version of the software.
I can’t really test it aggressively because that would take me a month. I can, however, throw it out there for you all to use and you can tell me if it works the way you think it should.
So please : use it (it doesn’t take much time and it’s super simple), play with it, throw your budgets into it and let me know:
- Does it work the way you want it to?
- Are there things it desperately needs before it’s useful to you?
- Are there any improvements you would really like?
- Do you see any problems with it?
- Do you have any questions about it?
It’s designed to be useful to you, so please don’t hesitate to drop me some feedback. The more I receive the better I can make the tool.
What It Does
The tool prompts you to enter values for every budget category I could think of, organized into logical subcategories and groups. You can select a group by clicking on its name at the top of the input page and you can see the different subcategories laid out on the page.
Any category that doesn’t apply to you, just leave it blank.
Once you’re done, click on “Analyze” at the bottom of the page and the program will create a printable of the budget you entered, with all the numbers converted to monthly equivalents. It will also generate a little bit of analysis at the bottom of the page.
At the very bottom is a button that allows you to save the budget. If you click it you will be given a token which you just have to save somewhere. That token can be used to recall the budget you just entered by clicking on “Recover Saved Budget” on the first page and entering the token there.
If you recover a budget and go to the analysis page, a second button appears at the bottom. You can either resave this budget with the same token or you can create new budget which will generate a new token.
A Word on Privacy
Obviously I store local copies of the budgets on my server in order to recover them for you when you request them. When I store the budgets, I do not:
- Store any personally identifiable information (your name, IP address, etc)
- Track which other budgets were created by you – each budget is just a separate series of numbers, stored separately
- Store them indefinitely. I track when each budget was last viewed and every so often I will purge the budgets that are older than a couple of months – I don’t want to clutter my server with a bunch of outdated entries.
So I (and anyone else) should have no way of associating any of the numbers on my server with a real world person unless that person shares the token code with me (or someone else).
If you have any concerns or think there are additional precautions I should take, then please let me know.
I hope to improve the tool by adding a tab for debts and having a section in the analysis showing how long it will take to repay that debt given the budget that has been entered.
There are a thousand other things I could do with this, but I want to keep it simple to use and simple to understand.
Please let me know your thoughts.