Later this week you may get to watch as your money is shredded. You know, torn and discarded wrapping paper? After the holidays the real cleanup begins, and it is of the financial sort. A great way to begin your financial reconstruction is with a budgeting app. But with so many out there, how will you know which to choose? We were curious, so we set out across the web checking to see what the financial pros had to say; and to help you restock your savings, we’ve compiled a list here of the very best budgeting apps, according to expert reviews.
It happens to all of us: we spend and soon wonder where our money went. It’s as if our bank account has a slow leak. It’s helpful to see where the money goes but relying on our mind’s eye isn’t ideal. Mental tracking isn’t a reliable form of budgeting. This is where the use of a budgeting app is helpful.
The ability to create and separate expense categories and to see down to the cent where money is going allows for better money management. A good budgeting app will set up multiple expense categories so that you can better direct your funds. Not only that, but you may want an app that connects to your financial institutions so that numbers are updated in real time giving you an accurate financial picture each time you open the app.
To help put the financial famine that the holidays are behind you, here is the list of the consensus best budgeting apps according to financial experts. Of course, we want to hear which app works best for you. Comment below to tell us which budgeting app has helped you master your money!
The List: Top 6 Budgeting Apps, According to Expert Reviews
Highly ranked across all reviews, Mint, by Intuit, is a free money tracker. It allows you to link all your accounts in the app, so you get a full financial picture in one place. Mint also offers bill negotiation services in which they attempt to get companies to decrease the amount of your bills. If they’re successful you do pay a fee, of course.
As far as how this app works, Nerdwallet explains that “Mint tracks your expenses and places them in budget categories. You can personalize these categories, which are unlimited. You set limits for these categories, and Mint lets you know if you’re approaching those limits.” But a couple things to keep in mind: Nerdwallet writes that the app “may not be ideal if you’re looking to be more actively hands-on in your budgeting,” and “if you’re searching for an app in which you plan ahead for your money, rather than track it after the fact,” other apps may be a better choice.
Business Insider lists Mint as their “Best budgeting app overall,” noting that “Mint makes it easy to save for multiple goals. Create a goal, including your estimated costs and timeline, and Mint factors the plan into your budget.”
And as far as its ease of use and benefits, Business Insider writes, “Mint is easy to use and helpful for understanding your finances on a large scale. In addition to showing your income, expenses, and savings goals, it displays factors like your credit score, investments, and net worth.”
2. YNAB (You Need A Budget)
YNAB aims to “change your money mindset” according to their website. Their philosophy is based on four rules: 1. Give Every Dollar a Job; 2. Embrace Your True Expenses; 3. Roll With the Punches; and 4. Age Your Money. Their website explains each of these rules in detail, but they tout their app as being like no other budgeting app.
Investopedia writes, “YNAB allows you to sync your bank accounts, import your data from a file, or manually enter each transaction. To begin, the company suggests learning the basics about the app through video courses, a live workshop, or reading a guide. YNAB offers a proactive budgeting approach rather than tracking what you have already spent, like some competitors.” This may be a good option if you want to plan ahead rather than see your financial picture after the fact.
If you’re looking for an app to download and start using right away this may not be the one. The Ascent writes, “there’s a greater learning curve and more time involved with YNAB than with most budgeting apps. That time commitment is, however, also a reason why this app is made for those who need to take more control of their money. In particular, it’s excellent for people living paycheck to paycheck or who are struggling with debt.” If those are things you struggle with, the reward may be worth the initial effort.
3. Personal Capital
If you’re looking for an app that, in addition to budgeting, also focuses on investments and saving for retirement, this may be the one.
Forbes thinks highly of this app, writing, “Personal Capital earns the top spot on our best budgeting apps list for its outstanding reporting options, desktop capabilities, investment management platform and spending tracking. Owned by Empower Retirement, Personal Capital gives a holistic view of customers’ entire financial picture, from day-to-day spending to tracking portfolio performance.” And for more about the investment features of the app, they write, “it also has excellent advisory tools, including an investment checkup, investment fee analyzer, financial planning, cash flow tracking, education cost planning and real time net worth tracking.”
Not all budgeting apps will connect to brokerage or retirement accounts, but not to worry with this app. ZD Net writes, “the app works with several different types of accounts, including your normal banking accounts, as well as investments, stocks, and retirement funds.” They also go on to write that “the exclusive Retirement Planner tool helps you view your 401K, IRAs, and also your debt so you can have a complete, well-rounded portrait of your finances at the click of a button.”
So, with this app you can be sure that bills are covered while also paying down debts and saving for retirement. Not to bad for a free app that also offers a desktop version.
According to their website, PocketGuard is the “#1 budgeting app for college students and over-spenders.” If you’re a person that gets hit with overdraft fees, this may be a good app to consider. The free version of this app offers basic budgeting, but if you want more features you’ll have to upgrade to the paid premium version.
And how does the app work? “Taking into account your estimated income, upcoming expenses and savings goals, ‘In My Pocket’ feature uses an algorithm to show how much you have available for everyday spending (available for all users),” writes CNBC.
If you’re looking for plug and play, this may be the app. The Balance notes that “this app is one of the easiest to set up and connect to your bank accounts.” And for some great features: “PocketGuard even has a feature to help you track each individual bill and find opportunities to save. It looks out for recurring bills from phone, TV, and Internet companies, which may help you to find cheaper options. It can also help you find subscriptions you forgot you had and give you ideas of what you might want to cancel,” writes The Balance.
This app brings an old school method into the digital age. It uses an “Envelop Budgeting” method where your money gets divided among different expense categories or “envelopes.” This way you have money set aside for specific expenses and the money in those envelopes can only be used toward the expense for which they were created.
And according to Money, “you can link saving, checking or credit card accounts, loans, or investment accounts for effortless transaction syncing. In fact, one of Goodbudget’s best features is the option to sync and share budgets and upcoming bills with your friends, partner or any member of your household.”
There is a free and paid version of this app. Nerdwallet writes, “Goodbudget offers a free version that allows one account, two devices and limited envelopes. Its paid version, Goodbudget Plus, allows unlimited envelopes and accounts, up to five devices and other perks.”
So, if you’re a little old fashioned but not too old fashioned to use an app, this one may appeal.
Honeydue is a free app made specifically for couples. It allows communication between partners within the app to ensure bills are paid on time.
This may be a good way to keep your finances and relationship healthy. Forbes writes, “household finances are an area of contention for many couples. Honeydue aims to help couples have better communication and transparency about their expenses and finances.” This is where the chat option within the app is helpful.
If you still prefer to retain some privacy, this app allows you to selectively share. Business Insider writes, “Honeydue allows you to see both your individual and shared finances in one place. You also have to option of setting limits to how much your partner can see. When you connect a bank account to the app, you may choose to share both balance and transaction information, share information only, or share no information.”
Where many couples don’t have time to sit and catch up, let alone work through financial spreadsheets, this may be a convenient option to share in financial responsibilities while on the go.
You May Also Be Interested In:
- Business Insider
- The Balance
- ZD Net
- The Ascent
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.