When it comes to budgeting, the task can be slightly daunting. Luckily, there exist a good amount of very useful apps to help you get on top of your game when it comes to personal finance. Let's look at some of the best budgeting apps available right now.
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 your spending, income, and debts to 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 top budgeting apps 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 try 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.
Many free budgeting apps on the market 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 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 $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 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 they happen, unlike 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, so you can track spending, see upcoming bills, and reach investment and savings goals all in one place!
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 thinking about it. It was named the ‘Best Money Management app' of 2020 by This is Money.
You can use 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: There is no cost for the free version, and the Plus version is just $8 per month.
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 it 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.
You can opt for either the free version of the app or upgrade to the Plus plan which offers extended features like:
6. Zeta Joint Account
Apple App Store Rating: 4.6 (242 reviews)
Google Play Store Rating: 4.3 (487 reviews)
Zeta is a free 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 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.
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.
8. EveryDollar (by Dave Ramsey)
Cost: Free to start, but for premium features $129.99 annually.
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:
- Keep 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. Choosing the right app can help you reach specific goals faster and more efficiently. Let's look at some of the types of budgeting apps available.
Expense-tracking apps are invaluable tools for financial management. They empower users to monitor their expenditures with precision, categorizing expenses to reveal spending patterns.
By providing insights into where and how money is being spent, these apps help individuals identify areas of potential overspending and make informed decisions to achieve financial goals. This data-driven approach encourages better budgeting and smarter financial choices.
Couples Budgeting Apps
Couples budgeting apps are specialized tools that cater to the financial needs of partners who wish to manage their finances collaboratively. They enable real-time sharing of budgeting information and transaction records, ensuring that both individuals are on the same page regarding their financial goals and responsibilities.
These apps foster transparency and open communication in financial matters, ultimately strengthening the financial harmony within the relationship.
Zero-Sum Budgeting Apps
Zero-sum budgeting apps are practical tools that operate on the principle of allocating every dollar of your income to specific categories or expenses. These apps list your monthly income and expenses and then calculate a manageable budget by subtracting your costs from your income.
The goal is to ensure that your budget balance equals zero, signifying that every dollar has been allocated to a particular purpose. If there's any surplus or deficit, it prompts users to make necessary adjustments, promoting financial discipline and efficient resource management.
Net Worth Tracking Apps
Net worth tracking apps are valuable tools for seeking insight into your financial progress. They enable users to monitor and assess their net worth over time, providing a clear picture of their financial health and wealth accumulation.
Tracking assets, debts, and investments, these apps help users gauge how well they save and grow their money. This long-term perspective encourages smarter financial decisions and planning for future financial goals.
Investment/Retirement Planning Apps
Investment and retirement planning budgeting apps assist you in monitoring your investment portfolio and 401k contributions. They provide insights into your retirement savings progress and help determine whether your financial plans are on target.
Credit Score Tracking Apps
Credit score tracking apps can help you more easily manage your credit score. These apps enable users to monitor their credit scores over time, providing a clear view of their creditworthiness and how it may impact their borrowing capabilities. By tracking changes in your credit score, you can identify areas for improvement and take action to enhance your financial standing, ensuring better access to credit and favorable borrowing terms.
The Bottom Line
In the ever-evolving landscape of personal finance, budgeting apps have emerged as indispensable companions on our journey to financial stability. With many options available, finding the one that aligns perfectly with your unique needs is essential.
It's not just about managing your money; it's about achieving financial empowerment. So, whether you're striving to curb your spending, save for retirement, or secure your financial future, there's a budgeting app waiting to help you take control and make your financial goals a reality. Dive into this world of digital financial empowerment, and watch your financial future transform.