There are a lot of budgeting apps on the market these days. But which is the best budget app for you? This article will discuss some of the most popular budgeting apps available right now. We will help you decide which is the right budgeting app for you based on your personal finances and specific needs.
What Are Budgeting Apps
A budgeting app is an application for your mobile device that helps you manage your monthly budget, track your monthly bills, and view your financial data. It tracks all of your spending, income, and debts so you can see how much money you have available each month to spend or save.
The best budget apps also let users create budgets for specific expenses like grocery, gas, and entertainment. Many budgeting apps offer a free version with the option to upgrade to a premium version and are typically quite affordable compared to other financial management tools such as Excel spreadsheets, Quicken software packages, and the like.
If you are looking for an app to manage your financial accounts or invest with, you can find it. Some budgeting apps include other useful tools to help you calculate your net worth and invest your money.
The US has some of the best budgeting apps globally compared with other budgeting apps in countries like the UK. The choice of budgeting apps and features available in the US is top-notch, meaning there is a high probability you can find one that's a good fit for.
How Do Budgeting Apps Work
Most budgeting apps work by connecting to your bank accounts so that they can import transactions automatically and track all of your spending. Many budgeting apps will allow you to connect all your accounts, including credit card accounts, so you can see your complete cash flow in one place.
Some of the top budgeting apps also allow you to manually enter your monthly income and expenses if you don't want to connect your accounts to your app.
The best budgeting apps will analyze your income and expenses to determine how much money you have available each month for spending and saving.
They can also create customizable budgets based on past transactions and trends in your spending habits over time, which is helpful if you're trying to stick within a specific budget each month.
Should I Use a Free Budget App or a Paid One?
A good budgeting app doesn't have to cost you any money; determine how you plan to use the app before paying for one.
There are many free budgeting apps on the market that offer a wide range of features and benefits, so you don't necessarily need to pay for one just because it has more advanced features than what comes standard on the free version of the app.
If you decide to purchase a budgeting app, be sure it's worth the added cost. The best apps help manage your finances in many different ways, from tracking spending habits and creating budgets based on past transactions to investing money with ease by using features like “Robo-Advisors.”
Based on our findings, the following are some of the best budgeting apps – both free and paid – on the market right now. Be sure to do your research to determine the ideal app for you.
Best Budgeting Apps of 2023 Revealed
1. You Need a Budget – YNAB
Cost: 34-day free trial, no credit card required – then a monthly subscription of $14.99 or $98.99 for the year
Apple App Store Rating: 4.8 (46k ratings)
Google Play Store Rating: 4.8 (14.6k reviews)
The best budget app for beginners, You Need a Budget (YNAB), is a paid budgeting app and offers many features that other apps do not. It's ad-free because the only option is the paid version, giving it a better user experience than other budgeting apps.
YNAB is one of the most popular apps for budgeting, and it's no secret why. They have a robust YouTube channel with dozens of video walkthroughs and educational resources, which is especially helpful for new users.
The YNAB app uses a zero-based budgeting system to help you take control of your money. YNAB helps you track your spending-income ratio to know how much money you have available each month or week ahead of time. That allows users to set up budgets for different categories like groceries, gas, and entertainment expenses, as well as set savings goals.
The app also lets you set due dates for your bills and connect to your other financial institutions for bank accounts and credit cards so you can see all of your account balances and transactions within your YNAB mobile app or desktop version.
Overall, YNAB is easy-to-use, offers tutorials on budgeting appropriately based on your needs, and encourages you to set financial goals, making it a solid choice all around.
YNAB says they are unique from other budgeting apps because they focus on the future. They say their budgeting tools focus on the end and stop you from making money mistakes before it happens, in contrast to traditional budgeting apps that focus on the past.
2. Empower Personal Dashboard (Previously Personal Capital)
Cost: Free app, charges through management fees which are above average
Apple App Store Rating: 4.7 (39k reviews)
Google Play Store Rating: 4.3 (17.4k reviews)
Empower Personal Dashboard is a budgeting app that doubles as a wealth management tool. It offers unique features for users, such as portfolio tracking, 401k analysis, and more. If you are looking for an app to help with financial planning, this is a good choice.
However, Empower may not be suitable for someone new to investment accounts but more for those already on their journey. Beginners may find this app out of reach as some accounts require a minimum of 100k opening. The budgeting tools are free, but do some more research if you plan to invest, as some users have found the management fees to be high.
Apple App Store Rating: 4.8 (780k reviews)
Google Play Store Rating: 4.2 (205k reviews)
Mint is considered the best free budgeting app by many. It is the number one most-downloaded budgeting app based on all-time downloads.
With Mint, you can link all your accounts in one place. It's free to use and helps you track your spending, income, debts, and investments all in one place. Mint is free to use and offers a wide variety of features.
You can create budgets for specific categories, set financial goals, and track net worth over time. Additionally, you can analyze spending habits based on past trends to help you save money more effectively and set up alerts triggered by specific actions like transferring funds from one account into another.
Plus, the Mint app also offers investment accounts too, so you can track spending, see upcoming bills, and reach investment and savings goals all in one place!
How Does Mint Make Money?
Mint makes money through strategic partnerships with other companies, which can help you save money. For instance, they offer a bill negotiation feature – similar to Rocket Money – that notifies you of unused subscriptions and opportunities to negotiate lower rates on your bills.
Cost: Free budgeting app with premium add-ons available
Apple App Store Rating: 4.6 (86k reviews)
Google Play Store Rating: 4.0 (52.4k reviews)
Cleo is a quirky AI-powered budgeting app that can help you save money without even thinking about it. It was named the ‘Best Money Management app' of 2020 by This is Money.
You can stick with Cleo's free features or upgrade to their premium service to get additional features such as tracking your credit rating and cashback at select retailers. The free version allows you to set goals and manage your finances in one place.
What makes Cleo fun to use is its personality. It will connect to Facebook Messenger, so you can ask Cleo questions about your finances, and it will answer you. For instance, you can ask Cleo if you can afford a pizza tonight!
Cost: Free version, no charge
Apple App Store Rating: 4.7 (13k reviews)
Google Play Store Rating: 4.3 (19.2k reviews)
Goodbudget is a relatively new app in the budgeting market, but it has steadily gained users due to its simple design and ease of use. It's free to use with no ads, which is always a bonus, and lets you create budgets for specific categories and track your net worth over time.
It uses an envelope system to label your budget categories, i.e., gas or groceries. By setting up your app envelopes, you can see exactly how much you have to spend at the start of the month.
6. Zeta Joint Account
Cost: Free budgeting app
Apple App Store Rating: 4.6 (242 reviews)
Google Play Store Rating: 4.3 (487 reviews)
Zeta is a budgeting app designed for couples. If you already have a joint account, this budgeting app could be perfect your you.
Zeta Joint Account supports over 10,000 US institutions, so you should have little trouble getting all of your bank accounts in one place. It is designed for couples who want to manage their finances together and features unique messages to your partner about specific spending.
From a security perspective, don't worry. You are 100% in control of what you choose to share with your partner, so you don't need to share every account if you don't want to.
Cost: Free budgeting app
Apple App Store Rating: 4.7 (6.7k reviews)
Google Play Store Rating: 3.6 (1.86k reviews)
PocketGuard is a budgeting app that helps you keep track of your spending. It's free to download and use. It allows you to plan your budget by syncing all of your accounts. PocketGuard can help you create a debt payoff plan if you have debt by giving you examples like the ‘debt avalanche' method to determine how long it will take you to get out of debt.
Like other apps mentioned, with PocketGuard, you can track spending and set categories to keep an easy overview of your finances.
Cost: Free to start for premium features, $129.99 a year
Apple App Store Rating: 4.7 (61k reviews)
Google Play Store Rating: 3.3 (10.4k reviews)
There's a lot of complexity when it comes to zero-based budgeting. If you want something slightly more straightforward (and perhaps easier to handle), then EveryDollar may be a great option. It's an app developed by Dave Ramsey, so you may like it if you are a fan of the Ramsey methods.
EveryDollar is a free budgeting software. To use the app's extra features, you must join Ramsey+. In addition to EveryDollar's enhanced version, a Ramsey+ membership includes additional app features, such as audiobooks and courses.
You can't sync your bank accounts with the free budgeting feature, making it a good option for those who don't want to permit read-only access to their finances. Throughout the month, you manually enter and categorize your transactions.
If you join Ramsey+, you may link your bank accounts, making it easier to keep track of financial transactions. You can also monitor obligations and get reports on how you spend your money.
Cost: Free to start, $8.99 for Wally Gold
Apple App Store Rating: 3.8 (1.6k reviews)
Google Play Store Rating: Not available
Wally is a budgeting app designed to be personal.
You can set it up so the app only shows you transactions from particular accounts or related to specific categories (food, entertainment, etc.). That can be helpful if you want to keep track of your spending but don't want everything being lumped together in one place.
Additional services include:
- Keeping tabs on how much money you have available without logging in separately to each account.
- Getting alerts when bills are due, when there are new transactions, and every time something changes, that may affect how much money is available.
- Notifications about large purchases that may be out of your budget range.
Wally is perfect for frequent travelers as it can track spending in different currencies and countries and syncs with over 15k banks globally.
Types of Budgeting Apps
Many different budgeting apps are available today, each offering something slightly different to help you manage your finances.
Expense-Tracking Budgeting Apps
These apps allow you to track your spending by category and see where you may be overspending each month.
Couple Budgeting Apps
As the name suggests, these apps are designed for couples who want to share a budget and transactions in real time.
Zero-Sum Budgeting Apps
These apps work by listing your income and monthly expenses, then subtracting the costs from the payment to see if you have any leftover money or need to adjust your budget.
Net Worth Tracking Apps
These apps allow you to track your net worth over time so that you can see how well you're doing in terms of saving and growing your money.
Investment/Retirement Planning Budgeting Apps
These apps help you track your investments and 401k contributions so that you can see how much money you have saved for retirement and whether or not it's on track.
Credit Score Tracking Budgeting Apps
These apps allow you to track your credit rating over time so that you can see where you stand in terms of borrowing money and what you might need to do to improve your score.
What is the Best Free Budget App?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best free budget app will vary depending on your personal needs and preferences.
However, some most popular free budgeting apps include YNAB, Mint, and Goodbudget. If you are looking for an app that helps you track your spending habits over time so that you can make better financial decisions, then Mint or Goodbudget would be good options.
If you are looking for an app with more features, such as investment tracking or retirement planning, then Empower would be a better option. And finally, if you are looking for an easy, fun way to keep track of your expenses without any bells and whistles, then Cleo might be what you are looking for.
What is the Best Simple Budget App?
The best simple budget app depends on you. However, according to app store reviews for some of the more popular budget apps, YNAB, Mint, and Pocket Guardian seem to be good options if you are looking for easy-to-use and don't require any setup.
Budgeting apps are a great way to help manage your finances and keep track of where your money is going. Many different budgeting apps are available, so it's important to find one that fits your needs.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Mary Elizabeth is a self-taught finance nerd and money master. At the age of 21, she bought her first house, and by the time she was 30 had paid off all student debt and saved 100k.
She founded MeMoreMoney.com to help others achieve their own financial goals with uncomplicated advice that works for everyone from just starting out to those who have been saving for decades.