Let’s face it: you’ve got a lot going on, and budgeting may not be at the top of your to-do list. Keeping up with a budget requires time, dedication, and staying on track.
With smartphone budgeting apps, money management is easier than ever. The best budget apps connect to your bank accounts and other financial accounts to track your spending in real-time. No need for manual calculations, balancing checkbooks, and filing away papers.
Using a budgeting tool — especially one you like — could make staying on budget so much easier. The trick is finding the tool that works best for you. Let’s take a look at five apps that could help you take the stress out of budgeting.
Mint is one of the most popular apps for creating a budget – and it’s free! It will automatically categorize your transactions, pay your bills, and send alerts to keep you organized. Mint then uses that information to estimate your credit score, visualize your spending, help you set limits on expenditures, and offer advice based on your spending habits.
Who it’s most useful for: Someone who already knows how to budget but wants a fresh start.
You Need a Budget
If you’re looking to get more engaged with your money, You Need a Budget (YNAB) is beloved by its users. It’s based on a zero-sum system that requires you to allocate every dollar of income, prompting you to “gain total control of your money.” Fair warning: This budgeting app requires a bit more discipline than the others, so be ready to roll up your sleeves. Users pay a yearly fee, but a free trial is available for beginners.
Who it’s most useful for: Anyone, whether experienced with budgeting or a novice, who prefers to have more manual control of their budget.
If you’re looking to get more engaged with your money, You Need a Budget (YNAB) is beloved by its users. Users pay a yearly fee, but a free trial is available for beginners.
YNAB is based on a zero-sum system that requires you to allocate every dollar of income, giving you the power to “gain total control of your money.” But fair warning – this budgeting app requires more discipline than the others, so be ready to roll up your sleeves.
Who it’s most useful for: Anyone, whether experienced with budgeting or a novice, who prefers to have more manual, hands-on control of their budget.
Before there were digital budgeting apps, there was the envelope system. Mvelopes uses that envelope method as a base for their system of categorized “cash” envelopes. Focused on flexibility, Mvelopes works for users who have a lot of expenses to track. You can also set rules and restrictions on your habits to help you stay on course.
Who it’s most useful for: Freelancers and contractors who don’t have consistent income month-to-month, and/or frivolous spenders who want to curb their habits.
Designed with families in mind, HomeBudget boasts capability across multiple devices and accounts. It allows you to control as much (or as little) spending as you wish. Known for its seamless data reporting, this app could help you generate trend graphs and infographics easily. You get the most out of HomeBudget when you take advantage of its full capabilities, so don’t be afraid to try out every feature.
Who it’s most useful for: Families that want to have more than one person manage the household expenses, and/or budgeters who want visualized data.
PocketGuard keeps things simple for people who are looking to make better financial decisions.
Signing up for the free version lets you connect your checking and savings account, credit card account, installment loans, and other accounts as you track your bills. The app monitors your cash flow and tells you whether you can meet your savings goal after paying for food, utilities, and other essential items. You also can choose to track finances manually.
With the paid version, you can export spreadsheets and create a personalized plan to manage and pay off your debt.
Who it’s most useful for: Anyone (experienced with budgeting or not) looking for a simple, easy-to-use tool that helps them take control of their finances and eliminate overspending.
There’s a Budgeting App for Everyone
When you’re choosing which app is best for you, be sure to consider the customizability and flexibility of each app and compare those features to your own needs. Whether you’ve never budgeted before or you’re an experienced personal finance manager, there’s an app out there to fit your needs and goals.
Managing your budget can be scary. It can take a lot of work. But it’s a necessary task to get you where you want to go – and with the right budgeting app, you could start reaching your financial goals, one step at a time.