All of us can use a little help managing money better. The best budget software tools provide that “second set of eyes.”
Knowing how you spend your money is the first step to becoming a money boss. Many of these money management programs will help you track spending.
They’ll also help you make a spending plan, pay bills, and some will even help evaluate your investments. All of these actions can reduce your money worries.
Let’s face it, stressing about money is no fun. My wife and I use these tools to help us track our spending. We find ourselves worrying less about paying the bills.
Plus, these programs only require a few minutes of your time to use.
In This Article
Top Budget Software Options
Use free tools to view your all accounts in one place.
Automated spreadsheets help with debt payoff and budgeting.
New users can save up to $200 in just the first month alone.
There are plenty of budget software options to choose from. Some are free and others charge a small monthly fee. If you’re serious about gaining control of your money, paying for a program may be well worth the money.
But not everyone needs to use a paid option. The free apps are great options, too. So, you may try them first to see if they meet all your needs.
1. You Need A Budget (YNAB)
- Best for: People who need help making a full budget
- Cost: $6.99 per month (after 34-day free trial)
YNAB might be the best premium personal finance app. It’s the one my wife and I used to adjust our spending when we took a 50% pay cut a few years ago. The YNAB money management philosophy focuses on four money rules:
- Give every dollar a job
- Embrace your true expenses
- Roll with the punches
- Age your money (i.e., live on last month’s income)
This app walks you through every expense you may have each month. Besides tracking spending and building a budget, YNAB lets you make savings goals. It also has daily online workshops you might enjoy.
You can sync your bank accounts with YNAB. And, you can access YNAB from your laptop, phone or smartwatch.
- Best for: People who prefer spreadsheets
- Cost: $79 per year (after 30-day free trial)
Spreadsheets are a powerful way to manage your finances. The only problem is that you have to enter the information yourself. If you don’t enter every transaction, you skew the results.
Tiller imports your banking, investing and credit card actions in a spreadsheet.
You can access this data on Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
What makes Tiller attractive is its premade templates. It has different ones for many common budgeting strategies. Some of the templates include:
- Debt Snowball
- Monthly Expense Tracker
- Weekly Expense Tracker
- Net Worth Tracker
- Simple Business Tracker
You can use Tiller to track your personal spending or side hustle expenses. For custom spending plans, you can build your own template.
- Best for: Seeing all accounts in one place
- Cost: Free
If you want free personal finance software, check out Empower. This is a great option for tracking spending and your total net worth. Plus, you can set savings and spending goals.
You shouldn’t use this app if you still need to make a budget. If you already have control over your spending, Empower lets you see “the big picture.”
Another neat feature is its retirement planner tools. This tool lets you see if you’re currently on track to meet your retirement goals. The planner also checks to see if your investments are properly diversified, and if your current ETF and mutual fund fees are higher than the category average.
4. Intuit QuickBooks
- Best for: Business owners and the self-employed
- Cost: $10 to $60 per month
Do you run a small business or monthly side hustle with expenses? QuickBooks can be the best app to track business expenses. With a premium plan, you can also manage inventory and 1099 contractors.
Even with a basic plan, you can store receipts, invoice clients and estimate your taxes.
- Best for: Making a budget and tracking bills
- Cost: Free
Mint is another longstanding free personal finance software option. It’s powered by Intuit, the same developers of Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax.
This a good option for budgeting and making spending plans. It also offers bill tracking so you don’t forget a payment.
Compared to some of the other free money management programs, Mint has more ads. These ads can be annoying at times. Signing up for these services helps keep Mint free. But, you never have to enroll in these offers to remain a Mint user.
If you enjoy Mint and need more features, you can upgrade to Quicken. Some premium tools include bill pay and extra charting tools.
- Best for: Online bill pay
- Cost: Free
Maybe you remember Prism as Mint’s online bill pay tool. Since Mint no longer offers bill pay, you can switch to Prism.
With this app, you see your upcoming bills. And, you can schedule future bill payments. If your bank doesn’t offer free bill pay, this is a great alternative.
- Best for: Planning for large expenses
- Cost: $7 per month (after 14-day free trial)
People in the early retirement community use OnTrajectory for money planning.
You can also use it to plan for large expenses such as buying a rental property, paying down debt or saving for college.
You can input your current monthly expenses and future potential expenses. In one graph, you can see how much cash you may have for each year of life and the odds you’ll meet or exceed your savings goals.
- Best for: Budget planning and “what-if” planning
- Cost: Free, $9.95 or $19.95 per month
PocketSmith is a personal finance software that tracks your spending, builds a budget and shows your upcoming bills in a calendar view. Plus, you can track your net worth like you can in Empower.
With a paid plan, you can predict your financial health for up to 30 years. There are a couple of other reasons to consider one of PocketSmith’s paid plans. The free plan only lets you connect two banks, and you have to manually categorize each transaction.
9. Maximize My Social Security
- Best for: People considering taking Social Security benefits
- Cost: $40 per year
Living on a fixed income can be a challenge. You earn the same amount each month but can have variable expenses. Maximize My Social Security analyzes your retirement benefits and helps you decide when to start collecting them so that you maximize your lifetime benefits.
You can factor in different “what if” situations to make alternate plans. The last thing any retiree wants is to not have enough to live on. This program can help make sure that doesn’t happen.
- Best for: cash envelope budgeters
- Cost: $4, $19 or $59 per month (after 30-day free trial)
Instead of keeping a paper log at home, you can track your purchases online. Other money management programs track expenses by category, but you might prefer this envelope method.
With either of Mvelopes’ upper-tier plans, you have access to a money coach. These two plans also provide more guidance on tackling your debt.
11. Banktivity 7
- Best for: Apple iOS users
- Cost: $54.99 per year
It’s not uncommon for Apple’s personal finance software to be worse than its PC counterpart. Banktivity 7 attempts to ease your frustration if you use software like Quicken.
It’s a premium money management software program with a PC-like experience. Except, you can still use your iOS device.
To use Banktivity 7, you can connect your bank accounts or transfer your information from other budgeting apps.
Besides spending, you can also track your savings rate, net worth and investment performance. Since this is a premium app, you have access to more charts than free software.
For an extra $59, a Banktivity expert will create a personal money plan. You can talk with them online for one hour. This can be cheaper than hiring a local financial planner that charges an average $150 to $300 per hour.
- Best for: long-term financial planning
- Cost: $99 per year
Other money management programs excel in helping you create a budget or track spending. Not as many offer a full long-term picture. MaxiFi tries to be a complete financial planning tool.
This isn’t the best option if you need help making a budget from scratch. If you only need to make small adjustments to your spending habits, you’ll be fine. This app helps you estimate your retirement income and taxes, and track your money goals.
MaxiFi will also make suggestions to help improve your money plan. These changes are intended to lower your tax bill, optimize your income and help correct your current spending habits.
Knowing how you spend and save your money has many benefits. It’s required if you don’t want to worry about money. The best personal finance software can help you plan for long-term goals and stay on track with your finances.