Creating a budget just got sexy, fun, and delicious. I just took a bite out of PearBudget Beta, a web-based application for creating a household spending plan and record. PearBudget is created on the success of the popular PearBudget Spreadsheet, which has been downloaded around the interweb over 100 thousand times.

PearBudget is a simple to use application for tracking monthly expenses, even those irregular costs that can bite you in the butt. It takes under 15 minutes to setup a new budget plan using the easy-to-follow wizard. Budgeting categories are highly customizable to help determine if your income meets your expenditures.

PearBudget is not trying to be the next Quicken, Microsoft Money, or Moneydance by offering lots of complex features. Rather, the goal of PearBudget is to offer users a simple way to “pare-down” the complexities of other budgetary tools. With PearBudget you no longer need to go bananas tracking the cost of apples and oranges. But, if you’re looking for a way to integrate your online banking and budgeting with a single solution, Pear Budget may not be enough to meet your needs.

Product: PearBudget Beta
Rating: 4 out of 5
Pros: Simple, stunning design. Easy and fun to use. Can try without creating a darn account. Exceptional documentation.
Cons: Does not import transactions. Downloading data is cumbersome.
Company: www.PearBudget.com
Cost: Beta is free! $3 per month after Beta
Browsers: Firefox, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer
Processors: Universal

PearBudget Beta is free to use but will cost $3 per month when fully released. The application runs smoothly on Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer (but not IE6).

Highlights:

PearBudget is a stunning piece of ripe fruit. The user interface is clean and delicious. The husband and wife team (Charlie and Sarah Park) behind this slick application really know a thing or two about designing smart user interfaces. The setup of my own budget plan was easy given the straightforward wizard and the awesome documentation. Too many times a product is released with rotten user instructions and FAQs. This is not the case with PearBudget as the product documentation is wickedly awesome.

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Other tasty bits include:

  • Create a budget plan without registering for an account.
  • Elegantly simple. No extra fluffy features to boggle your brain.
  • Gives you budgetary results quickly.
  • Security is not a concern since personal banking data is not collected.
  • Download budget data into a spreadsheet.

Lowlights:

PearBudget does not support the import of transactions from a bank account. So those who dislike data entry will not be thrilled with entering all receipts by hand. This is a minor quibble as I prefer entering this data myself and have been doing this in Quicken for years. I simply don’t trust an outside application with my personal banking information. Besides, entering my own data takes minutes a week and keeps me honest with how much I’ve spent.

Another minor quibble with PearBudget is I find using the application to download budget information into a spreadsheet cumbersome and confusing. The documentation outlines the steps well, however, clicking my email address to either download my data or delete my account is a little scary. I could see a case where a user accidentally deletes their account in the attempt to download budget data. Perhaps PearBudget could use a dashboard to contain and separate various “account management” features such as file download, settings, and account deletion.

Should I Buy?

Overall I rate PearBudget an outstanding four squawks out of five. The application does what it sets out to do by providing a streamlined and simple way to manage a household budget. I figure the tasty user interface and witty instructions are an added bonus.

You may like PearBudget if you don’t mind data entry, want a very detailed budget plan and record, and don’t require more complex financial software features (like tracking mutual funds or stock prices).