Few people take pleasure from sitting down and tackling the tedious task of budgeting, but there’s no denying that mindful planning is integral to the protection of our financial futures. Fortunately, the emergence of budgeting apps has made the tracking of spending habits, monitoring of expenses, and management of cash flow easier than ever before.
Still, just as a uniform budget wouldn’t work for everyone, neither will a single budgeting app. Personal finances are just that, personal. With so many options available, the first (and hardest) step towards using a budgeting app effectively is finding the one best suited to your priorities and individual needs. We’ve put together a rundown of some of the best apps out there, so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
Note: MoneyMorningPaper does not receive any affiliate benefits for promoting these apps, they have been listed here on their merits alone.
With over 20 million users, Mint is one of the best known budgeting apps on the market, and for good reason. Owned by Intuit, and linked to a huge range of banks and lenders, Mint is notable for its intuitive set-up and user accessibility. Not only is the app itself free, a good start for any budget, but it also provides a variety of educational resources for those new to the budgeting process.
By syncing with each of your various accounts, Mint does the work of consolidating your finances for you, enabling you to keep track of all of your spendings and savings in one place. In effect, Mint acts as your personal accountant – monitoring your bills, setting reminders for upcoming payments to avoid late fees, and automatically categorizing your expenses from linked credit and debit cards. Over time, seeing this monthly categorical breakdown can help you recognize the nuances of your spending habits and better understand your future budgeting needs.
Utilizing all of these tools is sure to help with your credit score – which, of course, you’re able to access in the app as well!
As the name suggests, Pocketguard has been specifically designed to curb overspending. Using an algorithm to track your income and expenses, this app encourages you to set specific savings goals and then calculates exactly how much you can spend each day in order to reach them. For those of us short on willpower, Pocketguard is here to protect us from ourselves – allowing its users to create spending limits that will keep them in check, and their checkbooks in balance.
For those willing to spend a little in order to save a little more, for a small fee Pocketguard includes a “lower your bills” feature to help cut down your monthly expenditure. The app will track your recurring bills from places such as phone and internet companies, and then find a better deal than your current one – saving you money, trouble, and time.
Pocketguard is becoming a fast favourite as one of the easiest and most effective budgeting apps available. Users can choose between its free version or a premium version costing $34.99 a year.
YNAB (You Need a Budget) exists for the most dedicated of budgeters. With a subscription fee of $84 a year and a “zero-based budgeting” philosophy (i.e. they require the user to assign a purpose to every dollar they earn), this app is only for the truly committed.
However, if you do decide to take on the challenge, you stand to reap significant rewards. YNAB claims that their average customer saves $600 in their first two months and more than $6000 in their first year.
With a stellar reputation and money-back guarantee, YNAB is designed to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, shepherding its users out of debt by offering a pro-active budgeting approach as opposed to the more common expenditure tracking model. They also offer extensive budgeting resources and customer support to help users achieve their goals.
Perhaps the only thing more complicated than budgeting for yourself is learning to budget with someone else. When you’re looking to manage your money as a couple, Zeta is one of the few free apps made with relationships in mind.
Part financial adviser and part relationship therapist, Zeta understands that conversation is key to the responsible running of a joint finance account, and will set monthly “money date” reminders for you and your partner to facilitate communication and encourage the expression of your mutual monetary goals.
Within the app itself, you’ll have the opportunity to monitor your individual accounts as well as any common savings and expenses, with the option to maintain privacy and disclose information as suits your preferences and needs. As with other apps on this list, Zeta makes it possible to track your personal spending and manage your bills in one place, while offering the added space for the two of you to create and contribute to a shared budgetary plan.
If you’re a bit further ahead in your budgeting journey and are ready to expand your financial planning horizons, then look no further than Personal Capital. This app combines standard expenditure tracking with wealth management, making it a stand-out choice for those looking not just to save money, but to make it.
Although Personal Capital’s budgeting capabilities are more limited than those in other apps we’ve mentioned, its impressive variety of free investment tools has solidified its niche in the market. Especially notable among these features are their Retirement Planner (which runs simulations against your portfolio to prepare for a variety of scenarios) and their Fee Analyser (which hunts down hidden costs in your investment accounts).
Most of the app’s features are available free-of-charge (including the two mentioned above), but choosing to opt into its investment management services will incur a 0.89% fee on accounts under $1 million.