Become a Better Budgeter With Help From These 7 Apps
If you’re like many people, then budgeting, paying bills and managing your finances isn’t exactly a fun activity. In fact, for some people, it means hours of tedious spreadsheets, mapping out due dates, calculating which part of the budget can be trimmed, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Luckily there are lots of apps out there – many of which are free – that can help you get your finances on the right track. Here are seven of the best budgeting apps available.
If you’ve looked into personal finance apps before then you’ve likely come across Mint, and with good reason. To use the app, simply link all of your bank accounts and credit cards and let the app do the rest. It will bucket how your money is spent, in turn helping you create a budget to keep you on-track with your goals. For example, you may realize that you spend more eating out than you previously thought, and can save some money simply by cutting back in that area. Or conversely, it will let you set a budget for how much you want to allot to going out to dinner, and will show how much you have left.
Backed by Intuit, this resource will also help you pay bills by reminding you when they’re due, letting you schedule payments and even telling you your credit score. Basically, it gives you an at-a-glance look at all thing finance-related, and you get all of that for free.
2. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
No discussion about budgeting apps is complete without talking about You Need a Budget. The app has the same level of urgency as the name suggests, helping users learn complete money management techniques while simultaneously helping them pay down debt and save money.
They have four rules:
- Every dollar has a job
- Embrace your true expenses
- Roll with the punches
- Age your money (aka spend money that’s 30 days old)
These principles build upon each other to help users create a new mindset around budgeting and saving. The app actively works to pare down your budgets to what you can afford and not what you’d like to spend. This app links directly to your bank accounts, like Mint, and that’s how it helps users stay accountable. The budgets are manually created by the user.
The small catch is that this app costs $50/year (billed annually) following the 34-day trial. But it may be worth the price tag, however, since they claim that by the second month, users have usually saved $600, and up to $6,000 by the end of the year.
If those other apps seem a little too robust and you want to simply take it back to budgeting basics, look no further than PocketGuard. This streamlined app gets right to the point: how much can you afford to spend? It breaks down bills into weekly and monthly budgets by category, and as another little perk, the app will help you save on bills. Any recurring bills, like the cable bill, will be assessed to see if there’s a better deal out there for you to snag. You can also add in any investments and loans you have to get a better picture of your finances.
The real value in this free app is the customizability and ease-of-use. If you’re fairly well-disciplined and just need a tool to help you stay on track, this is a great choice to get you on the right financial foot.
Keeping with a simplistic theme, Mvelopes makes it easy for users to employ the classic envelope method of saving. You simply create a budget, link the accounts you want to track, and check in to see when you have money to spend and when you don’t. There’s no limit to the amount of “mvelopes” you can have or the institutions you can link to, but investment accounts can not be linked using the platform. This app also offers educational tools like ebooks and videos to keep you on the right track.
There’s a 30-day free trial available for users, and after that, there are different priced plans. The Basic plan is $4/month or $40/year and offers the same features as during the trial. The Plus plan is $19/month or $190/year and will create a plan for your specific goals, as well as schedule a quarterly meeting with a “Personal Finance Trainer.” Their Complete plan is $149/quarter or $549/year which gives users access to all of Mvelopes tools and monthly meetings with a “Personal Finance Trainer.”
Are your finances so organized that your accountant thinks she should be paying you? Then look no further than Wally for your ideal app. Easily create and track detailed daily budgets, set savings goals, add bill pay information for push notifications to remind you when a bill is due, and more. The Android store says it best: “It's a lifestyle app that treats expenses as experiences.” What does this mean? For example, if you’re out to eat with friends and want to add the expense, simply snap a pic of the receipt, upload it, and Wally will use location services to know that you’re at a restaurant.
There’s also a social component to Wally that allows you to tag friends and upload pictures to the event as well. Sure, there are lots of apps where you can upload pics, but if you had a particularly pricey night out, it might be fun to remember what a good time you had. Additionally, uploading the receipts can come in handy during tax time if some of your expenses were business-related. The kicker for most people who choose this app is that it’s completely free.
If you’re good at budgeting, but paying bills on time and balancing due dates keep messing with your goals, then take some time and download Prism. This app helps you pay your bills on time and see at-a-glance how much they’ll be. You simply link your bank accounts and billers to the app, and then when it’s time to pay, you can pay from in the app. There’s no need to log into various accounts all throughout the month. It sounds simple, but by simply offering this service, Prism users say they continue to save money on late fees and their credit scores improve from on-time payments – all without using tedious spreadsheets. You’ll get push notifications if you haven’t scheduled a payment and confirmations when they go through. The best part? This easy bill paying platform costs $0.
If you’re in desperate need of budgeting help, but don’t want to link any of your accounts to an app, then MoneyStrands is a good option for you. This streamlined app offers budgeting tools, savings goals, calendars to help organize your bills and a community aspect so you can see how your finances stack up to your peers. You can link your bank accounts, but don’t have to, and it will still help you calculate budgets and pay your bills on time. You can set specific budget goals as well as savings goals. For example, instead of setting an overall savings goal, you can save specifically for a car or a trip.
Additionally, MoneyStrands offers ebooks and other educational resources that help users learn how to more effectively manage their money in the long run. All of their features are free for users.
Natalie has her BA from University of California, Riverside and has worked in digital media for over a decade. She has been a Bleacher Report featured columnist for Bleacher Report and created content for some of the leading companies in the financial space.