In this day and age, there is app for literally anything you want your phone to do. There’s everything from a game for your cat to play (that’s right, not for you, for your cat!) to a paranormal activity reader. Where most apps can be slightly useful to a waste of storage space, there are a few apps that are essential. Along with Google Maps and What’sApp, your next daily use app should be your budgeting app. Don’t have one? Don’t worry; we’ve got the top picks of budgeting apps to make tracking your money easier and smoother than ever before. Forget the old-school envelopes or forgotten spreadsheets, today’s budgeting apps will help minimize all the annoying money management tasks and maximize the money you save.
The name says it all: You Need A Budget. If there was any question as to whether you should start budgeting, this app tells you in very clear terms. The app and its accompanying, very helpful website are just a clear. The app is available for iOS and Android as well as a handy web version, and has a 34 day free trial. After the trial, it will run you $5 a month, though the cost should be well accommodated in your managed budget.
The app and the budget theory are based on their four principles: Give every dollar a job, Embrace your true expenses, Roll with the punches, and Age your money. Their system aims to pull you out of the month-to-month, paycheck-to-paycheck cycle that we all know (and hate). The app provides the tech-hub to implement these principles of being honest, planning ahead for larger expenses and shifting money to cover overspending.
YNAB’s app syncs with your bank account to make set-up easy, and most importantly, to automatically update so you avoid the hassle of constantly revising your figures (which, if I’m honest, is where all of my past super-keen but elaborate budgets have broken down). The app can sync with any bank in the United States, and does so securely. The app does require you to add in upcoming transactions, as that is obviously not available for your bank accounts, such as monthly utility bills, or dentist appointments. You can record them as reoccurring transactions for bills or individual transactions as you go on your phone for cash purchases. Then, you dig into budgeting. Your money sits in a big, theoretical pile (or perhaps a small pile) and you assign amounts and categories. The app encourages you to assign every last dollar so each dollar has a job. This way, that floating amount of “savings” in your account doesn’t disappear after a late night lazy pizza delivery decision. Finally, set goals for your money. These goals can be to save for a vacation or to pay down that nagging credit card balance. The easy-to-use interface makes adding transactions, categories and amounts and goals super easy. The first month set-up can be a little onerous, but moving forward, the budgeting gets easier and easier.
The beauty of YNAB is that is built on a really solid and accessible personal finance foundation. The four principles are clear and useful, and they are used throughout the whole design of the app to make the process easier to understand. Plus, the layout has great design and is fairly intuitive to use. If you’re anything of a stats person or a competitive person, watching your money age or your saving’s goal percentage increase is a nice motivator to budget and save. YNAB gives a clear, honest picture of your finances, so your money starts to work for you, not the other way around.
If you’re feeling really strapped for cash and don’t want to cough up the $5 per month for YNAB, don’t fret, there are plenty of free budgeting app options. One of the top free apps is Wally. This app is available on iOS and Android, though not through your browser. The app has a simple interface that allows easy addition of income and spending, setting goals as well as daily and monthly budgets, and seeing your stats. The downside is that it does not connect with your bank account, so all the information must be entered manually. It does have handy features like a receipt photo option right in the app and setting your home screen to the expense screen to make it even easier to track spending. Though this app does not have the level of depth as YNAB, it provides all the basic tools needed to budget your money and, with maintenance, provide helpful overview of your spending and gentle reminders as to how to keep it on track.
If you feel you need a more powerful tool to take care of not only your personal income-spending budget, but also your overall personal finance, then Mint is the app for you. It’s available for iOS, Android, Windows as well as on your computer browser. Mint is fee to use, but offers a lot direct connections to purchase financial products, so be wary of what’s a useful product and what’s paying the bills.
Mint provides a budgeting feature that is synced to your bank account, making account updates easy for the most transactions. Categories, budget setting, and financial goals (even including a mortgage calculator) are included, as well as budget warnings. Mint also connects to your investment accounts and to your credit score, allowing you to view the full picture of your personal finance situation. With each area, the app will provide insight and tips on your current scenario. The app will highlight if you get charged for using another bank’s ATM, if your investment fees are higher than they need to be, or if there is strange spending in your account. Mint provides great overview value by having all your accounts in one place with targeted insight.
Budgeting has traditionally been a painful process. However, these three apps provide powerful software that makes the experience less difficult, more automatic, and, in some nerdy ways, fun. The most important choice here is the one to start budgeting. Each of these apps will be very useful in your efforts to track and control your spending. So, dig in, download and start budgeting!