Most people would love to have a better handle on their finances, but it can be hard to find the time to budget, let alone the motivation to stick to that budget. Luckily, the tech world has provided a plethora of money management apps that make budgeting a breeze. Many of these services can automatically import your financial info and help you track, analyze and plan your spending. The number of apps can be intimidating, however, so we’ve done the heavy lifting and created a list of some of the best budgeting apps available today.
You Need A Budget
You Need A Budget, or YNAB, has garnered an almost cult-like following due to its unique budgeting approach and active community of users. YNAB is special among budgeting apps because of its zero-based budgeting philosophy, which has you assign a “job” to each and every dollar you currently have. Budgeting every dollar forces you to carefully consider where your money goes each month. YNAB’s main goal is to break you out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle until you’re one month ahead of your finances, spending money today that you earned 30 days ago.
With a massive amount of educational resources, a community of helpful users who enjoy guiding new YNABers on their budgeting journey and an impressive desktop app, You Need A Budget is one of the best budgeting tools currently available. The app costs $84 per year (or $11.99 per month) after the initial 34-day free trial, but their 100% money-back guarantee is difficult to beat.
Mint is one of the oldest and most-used budgeting apps on the market, with over 20 million users. Owned by Intuit, the makers of Quickbooks and TurboTax, Mint is free to use (though you will see ads) and has a simple design that makes budgeting accessible to anyone looking to improve their finances. Mint’s wide array of features include automatically categorizing transactions from linked accounts, sending alerts when going over budget, monthly bill tracking and more.
Users of the Mint app can see their entire financial picture in one place. Mint is a safe option for anyone who wants better control of their money, but especially for those just starting out who want to save more and spend less.
If you have trouble with overspending, PocketGuard may be the right budgeting app for you. Tracking your income, expenses and savings goals, PocketGuard’s algorithm analyzes your spending habits then crunches the numbers to let you know how much money you have left “in your pocket” to spend. Those spending limits can make it easier to curb overspending and finally take control of your finances.
PocketGuard offers other unique features, like looking at your recurring phone, TV and internet bills to help you find a better deal on those monthly services. The app is free to use, but more features are hidden behind a $34.99 per year subscription.
While primarily an investment tool for building wealth, Personal Capital’s free app has plenty of features to help budgeters track their spending, including a full snapshot of their finances. You’ll be able to see your total income and expenses, add a budget and sort your spending by category, as well as monitor your checking, savings and credit card accounts, IRAs, 401(k)s, mortgages and loans all in one place.
It may lack some features that the other apps in this list boast, but Personal Capital truly shines as a wealth management tool. Its Retirement Planner and Education Planner will prepare you for the future, while the Net Worth Calculator and Fee Analyzer can help you make informed decisions about your current financial state. Personal Capital’s basic features are free to use, but its investment services charge an annual of fee 0.89% of your balances on accounts under $1 million.
No matter what state your finances are in, using one of these or another budgeting app can help you analyze your accounts, rein in spending and empower you to finally get control of your money.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp. Neither the author nor Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp. were compensated for publication of these opinions.