7 business budgeting tools for smart finance teams (2023)

No matter how big or small, one thing every successful business has in common is effective budget management. Even the strongest sales performance doesn’t mean much if a business doesn’t know how to effectively handle its cash flow balance.

Although many businesses use tools like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets to manage budgets, tracking them manually isn't the most reliable or accurate option. Finance professionals who depend on spreadsheets face a much higher risk of human error–it’s been estimated that 88% of spreadsheets contain errors.

As the frequency and value of transactions increase in a business, these problems become exponentially more damaging to the company–sometimes a single mistake costing businesses millions of dollars.

Which makes business budgeting software such a valuable investment. There are plenty of options on the market with customized plans, from limited features for small businesses that won’t break the bank, to full-scale spend management solutions targeted towards medium to large corporations.

In this article, we’ll feature 7 business budgeting tools and how to determine which is the best for your company’s finance team. Let’s get started!

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What is business budgeting software?

The goal is to automate and optimize a budgeting process that takes a large amount of time and manual work from finance teams. The exact processes that need optimization may differ depending on how your finance team and employees operate. But regardless of the size of your company, a great budgeting software should include several elements:

  • Live expense tracking: Real-time budget monitoring ensures you always have a clear understanding of how much you have and how much has been spent. Not only does this prevent businesses from going into the red, it also gives a deeper understanding of how employees spend and how expenses can be optimized.

  • Intuitive interface: Analyzing budget statements and reports should be a straight-forward process. Oftentimes, it’s not just finance teams that need to see the company ledger. That’s why a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand overview of spend and budgets is crucial to foster efficient collaboration between different teams.

  • Process automation: By streamlining slow, manual tasks and eliminating redundancies, businesses can save time and money, while boosting overall productivity. Winning back hours or even days, means that finance teams can refocus their energy on more lucrative work.

  • Cloud-based data: Reliance on paperwork or individual spreadsheet files is extremely limiting to business growth. Many online budgeting softwares enable you to access your business finances on-the-go, whether you’re at the office or on a business trip. Cloud-based software means you never have to worry about losing or misplacing physical documents again.

Choosing the best business budgeting software for your company requires understanding your business’s specific needs. The features needed by small businesses won’t necessarily fit the demand of a larger enterprise, just as a powerful tool for big corporations is likely overkill for a solopreneur.

Many online budgeting software are aware of this, and adapt by providing tiered packages that each suit specific types or sizes of companies.

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Best budgeting tools for small business and solopreneurs

1. Quickbooks

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Quickbooks is primarily marketed to solopreneurs and small businesses, although its accounting tools work well for medium-size companies too. The online platform helps business owners and accountants manage payments, payroll, banking, and bookkeeping–from a desktop or on-the-go with the Quickbooks app.

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In addition to simplifying accounting processes, the software gives users a full financial picture of their company with integrations for bank accounts, credit cards, and business apps. The budgeting tools and cash flow forecast are particularly useful for growing small businesses.

Biggest benefits:

  • Cuts down admin time for small to medium size businesses alike

  • 24/7 live customer support and extensive knowledge base

  • Plenty of online training and tutorial resources available for beginners

2. Freshbooks

No real finance team? No problem. Ideal for companies with 1-50 employees, Freshbooks was designed with the solopreneur and small business owners in mind.

With straight-forward and comprehensive dashboard and reports, this cloud-based accounting software and app uses an intuitive interface to help users understand and manage their company finances at a glance. It's a great easy-to-use and affordable tool for basic budgeting and forecasting, with the ability to view and create budget estimates, alongside unlimited expense tracking and simplified invoice creation.

That being said, this isn’t the best tool if you’re looking for complex budget planning and analysis. Also, if you want to add more team members to your plan, it can quickly get expensive ($10/month for every additional user).

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Biggest benefits:

  • Designed for the self-employed and very easy to navigate

  • Affordable with the cheapest Lite plan starting at $7.50 per month

3. FreeAgent

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Cloud-based FreeAgent is a well-balanced tool for accounting novices. It saves time and gives small business owners peace of mind with automated processes for nailing essential admin tasks, including: invoicing, expense tracking, and real-time cash flow monitoring.

Its simple UI/UX makes budget planning and financial forecasting easily accessible, but on the flip side, the straight-forward design means no flexibility for user customization and limitations outside the main offerings.

Biggest benefits:

Best budgeting tools for medium to large enterprise forecasting

The following tools are a level up from standard budgeting and forecasting. For finance teams that want to automate and optimize more complex financial planning across different assets and entities, these are the softwares to check out.

4. Planning Maestro

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Planning Maestro is a powerful tool that specializes in advanced financial planning, budgeting, forecasting, and analytics. The software enables finance teams to create model budgets for specific scenarios collaboratively with other team members, using integrated data from multiple sources. Planning Maestro only works on Windows and Linux desktops or on-premise, and there is no complementary mobile app.

Biggest benefits:

  • Helps finance teams understand the potential impacts of financial decisions

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  • Delivers faster and more accurate forecasts with in-depth numbers analysis

5. Adaptive Planning

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Built for mid-size and enterprise-level planning, budgeting, and forecasting, Adaptive Planning enables developed companies to increase their agility and responsiveness to changes in the market.

This cloud-based software helps finance teams streamline budgeting expenses and accurately track budgeting costs, with detailed overviews of total company spend.

It is challenging to set up and pricing is by quote only, but if your team is ready for this type of tool, it can be a gamechanger for your business budgeting.

Biggest benefits:

  • Finance teams can generate model budgets for different “what if” scenarios

  • Completely eliminates the need for manual spreadsheet-based budgeting and planning

Best budgeting tools for scaling up with workflow automation

6. Spendesk

In addition to providing robust budgeting and integrations with a centralized cloud-based platform, Spendesk gives finance teams greater visibility and control over the full scope of company finances and spend.

This all-in-one spend solution automates tedious accounts payable processes like invoice management and employee expense reimbursements, which are common obstacles for companies trying to scale their finance operations.

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Spendesk also removes common pain points that curb rapid company growth due to difficult spending. Hard-to-track shared company cards and subscription management struggles are solved with pre approved employee debit cards and unique virtual cards for making one-time or recurring purchases.

Biggest benefits:

  • Faster, more accurate AP processes improve cash flow and strengthen internal and external relationships

  • Boosts finance teams’ productivity while saving time and money

  • Eliminated redundancies enables all teams to focus on growing the company with strategic work

7. Scoro

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Scoro combines accounting automation with workflow optimization. Its real-time financial reporting enables finance teams to monitor and track company spend patterns, while identifying vulnerabilities and opportunities in their budgets.

As a work management software, Scoro focuses on streamlining overall project management–not just finance–in order to drive faster company growth. Its popular “time tracking” feature breaks down what tasks teams spend their work hours on, and how this directly affects the company’s finances.

Scoro can also be integrated with other calendars and work automation softwares that your team uses, which avoids overlapping or duplicating tasks.

Biggest benefits:

  • Allows businesses to scale quicker by optimizing both finances, sales, and workflow productivity together

  • Users can centrally manage multiple company’s finances from a single platform

Choosing the right budgeting tool for your business can help improve more than just your cash flow management. We hope that after reading this article, you now have a better idea of what type of budgeting software would best suit your finance team’s needs.

If you’re looking for a tool that does budgeting and more, an all-in-one spend management solution like Spendesk automates and optimizes multiple accounting processes, while streamlining collaborative workflows with other team members.

Want greater control and visibility over your company finances? We’re ready to help.

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What are the 4 budgeting methods? ›

There are four common types of budgets that companies use: (1) incremental, (2) activity-based, (3) value proposition, and (4) zero-based. These four budgeting methods each have their own advantages and disadvantages, which will be discussed in more detail in this guide.

What is the best tool for successful budgeting? ›

From old-school methods to the latest apps, here are 10 simple and free budgeting tools to keep your spending on track:
  • Spreadsheets.
  • Worksheets.
  • Banking tools and apps.
  • Mint.
  • Honeydue.
  • SoFi Relay.
  • Goodbudget.
  • Truebill.

What are the 7 types of budgeting? ›

The 7 different types of budgeting used by companies are strategic plan budget, cash budget, master budget, labor budget, capital budget, financial budget, operating budget.

What are the 7 steps in the budget process? ›

How to make a budget in 7 steps
  • Figure out your income. Start by making a list of all the money you have coming in each month. ...
  • Map out your expenses. Figure out where your money is going by making a list of your expenses each month. ...
  • Calculate your balance. ...
  • Identify your goals. ...
  • Make a plan. ...
  • Stay on track. ...
  • Talk to an expert.
4 Jan 2022

What are the 8 types of budget? ›

Top 8 Types of Budget – Explained!
  • Sales Budget:
  • Selling and Distribution Cost Budget:
  • Production Budget:
  • Cost of Production Budget:
  • Materials Budget:
  • Direct Labour Budget:
  • Manufacturing Overhead Cost Budget:
  • Cash Budget:

What are the 6 major types of budgets? ›

Different types of budgets
  • Master budget. A master budget is an aggregation of lower-level budgets created by the different functional areas in an organization. ...
  • Operating budget. ...
  • Cash budget. ...
  • Financial budget. ...
  • Labor budget. ...
  • Static budget.

What tools do finance professionals use? ›

Top Financial Management Tools
  • Xero (Accounting Software) ...
  • Expensify (Expense Tracking) ...
  • PlanGuru (Budgeting) ...
  • Approve.com (Spend Management) ...
  • FreshBooks (Billing and Payment Processing) ...
  • BrightPay (Payroll Management) ...
  • Gusto (Tax Preparation) ...
  • SOS Inventory (Inventory Tracking)
29 Dec 2020

What is the 50 30 20 budget method? ›

One of the most common percentage-based budgets is the 50/30/20 rule. The idea is to divide your income into three categories, spending 50% on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings. Learn more about the 50/30/20 budget rule and if it's right for you.

What are the 9 steps of the budget process? ›

9 Steps to Building a Budget
  • Step 1: Schedule a Time to Start. ...
  • Step 2: Get a Grip on Your Income. ...
  • Step 3: Figure Out Your Expenses. ...
  • Step 4: Track Your Spending. ...
  • Step 5: Assess the Month. ...
  • Step 6: Pick Out What to Cut. ...
  • Step 7: Categorize Your Budget. ...
  • Step 8: Start Spending – and Keep Recording!
15 Nov 2018

What are the 6 key things to know about budgets? ›

The 6 Budgeting Basics You Should Know
  • Budgeting is About Confidence Not Guilt. ...
  • Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. ...
  • Be Real About Your Income. ...
  • Savings is an Expense Too. ...
  • Look to Your Budget Instead of Your Balance. ...
  • Prepare for Emergencies.
28 Oct 2019

What is a budget class 7? ›

A budget is an approximation of revenue and expenses over a defined future time frame; it is organised and re-conceptualised on a periodic basis.

What are the types of budgeting? ›

Different methods of preparing financial plans are as follows.
  • #1 – Incremental Budgeting. ...
  • #2 – Zero-based Budgeting (ZBB) ...
  • #3 – Activity-based Budgeting. ...
  • #4 – Participative Budgeting. ...
  • #5 – Negotiated Budgeting. ...
  • #6 – Value Proposition Budgeting.

What are financial planning tools? ›

Financial Planning Tools are the instruments used to meet current and future financial goals through a sound financial plan. Financial Planning Tools generally fall into two categories: (a.) Wealth-Growing Tools.

What are CFO tools? ›

CFO. tools is a platform with financial tools for analyses related to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), tax and other purposes, required in the financial function of the company.

What are the most common tools of financial analysis? ›

Commonly used tools of financial analysis are: Comparative statements, Common size statements, trend analysis, ratio analysis, funds flow analysis, and cash flow analysis.

What is the 70 rule in budgeting? ›


You take your monthly take-home income and divide it by 70%, 20%, and 10%. You divvy up the percentages as so: 70% is for monthly expenses (anything you spend money on). 20% goes into savings, unless you have pressing debt (see below for my definition), in which case it goes toward debt first.

What is the 90 10 budget rule? ›

What Is the 90/10 Strategy? Legendary investor Warren Buffett invented the “90/10" investing strategy for the investment of retirement savings. The method involves deploying 90% of one's investment capital into stock-based index funds while allocating the remaining 10% of money toward lower-risk investments.

What is the 60 40 rule in finance? ›

The strategy allocates 60% to stocks and 40% to bonds — a traditional portfolio that carries a moderate level of risk. More generally, “60/40” is a shorthand for the broader theme of investment diversification.

What are the 6 steps to planning a budget? ›

Six steps to budgeting
  1. Assess your financial resources. The first step is to calculate how much money you have coming in each month. ...
  2. Determine your expenses. Next you need to determine how you spend your money by reviewing your financial records. ...
  3. Set goals. ...
  4. Create a plan. ...
  5. Pay yourself first. ...
  6. Track your progress.

What are the three capital budgeting tools? ›

Capital budgeting is the process by which investors determine the value of a potential investment project. The three most common approaches to project selection are payback period (PB), internal rate of return (IRR), and net present value (NPV).

What are the tools and techniques for determining budget? ›

The tools and techniques you can draw on to prepare your project budget are:
  • Cost aggregation.
  • Reserve analysis.
  • Expert judgement.
  • Historical relationships.
  • Funding limit reconciliation.
10 Dec 2014

What are the 6 budgeting basics? ›

Six Basics of Building Your Budget
  • Calculate Your Income.
  • Categorize Your Expenses.
  • Evaluate Your Spending.
  • Follow the 50/30/20 Rule.
  • Track Your Purchases.

What are the 5 basic elements of a budget? ›

Components of a budget
  • Estimated revenue. This is the money you expect your business to make from the sale of goods and services. ...
  • Fixed cost. When your business pays the same amount regularly for a particular expense, that is classified as a fixed cost. ...
  • Variable costs. ...
  • One-time expenses. ...
  • Cash flow. ...
  • Profit.

What are different financial tools? ›

Some of the most used financial tools based on their usage and requirements are common size statements (vertical analysis), comparative financial statements (comparison of financial statements), ratio analysis (quantitative analysis), cash flow analysis, and trend analysis.

What are three examples of common budgeting methods? ›

  • Top-down or bottom-up budgeting. ...
  • Top-down budgeting. ...
  • Bottom-up budgeting. ...
  • Incremental budgeting. ...
  • Zero-based budgeting. ...
  • Rolling budgeting. ...
  • Activity-based budgeting (ABB)

What are the 5 steps to capital budgeting? ›

The capital budgeting process consists of five steps:
  • Identify and evaluate potential opportunities. The process begins by exploring available opportunities. ...
  • Estimate operating and implementation costs. ...
  • Estimate cash flow or benefit. ...
  • Assess risk. ...
  • Implement.

What are budget instruments? ›

The budget is a management instrument used by any entity, financially ensuring the dimension of the objectives, revenues, expenses and results at the management centers level and finally evaluating the economic efficiency through comparing the results with those budgeted for.


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