When it comes to your finances, the most basic budget planning can be daunting. You may have trouble setting the right goals or sticking to the plan. Shouldn’t there be an easier way?
New budgeting tools and apps are popping up all the time. In most cases, the new technology has been helpful in making our lives and finances simpler. However, some apps can make your life more confusing. I have taken a closer look at the available budgeting apps to find the best ones for you.
Let’s get started!
Best Budgeting Tools
1. You Need A Budget (YNAB)
You Need A Budget is a perfect tool for anyone who is ready to dive deeper into their finances. The program offers a very intense budgeting strategy that will help you keep track of every single dollar. It is truly an amazing tool for hardcore budgeters, but if you don’t have the time or energy to track every single dollar then YNAB is not for you.
However, if a hardcore budget follower lives inside of you then you may want to get started with YNAB ASAP! The message of YNAB is to create a solid budget but remember to not stress out about the changes that will inevitably happen along the way.
In addition to needing a strong commitment to your budget, you will also need to make a financial commitment to the software. You will have to pay $83.99 per year for the service (or $6.99 per month). If you are a student, then you will be able to get a 12-month free subscription by providing your .edu email address.
Although it comes with a price, you have the ability to try the program for free. YNAB offers a 34- day trial, so test it out before you decide to pay for the software.
Once you start with YNAB, you need to put in the time to make it work for you. It won’t solve all your money problems overnight, but it could help you get a better handle on your expenses quickly. Many of the inputs need to be manually set up by you, but after the initial effort, it should be easier to work with over time.
YNAB is a browser-based tool that also has iOS, Android and Alexa device compatibility.
2. Personal Capital
Personal Capital is an easy way to take charge of your investments. The platform uses a combination of robo-advisors and human advisors to help you build a better financial future. The best part is that many of the financial planning tools offered by Personal Capital are free.
Through the platform, you will be able to access an investment checkup, a 401k fee analyzer, and a spending tracker. All of these things need to work together in order for you to build a stable financial future. The 401k analyzer may help to save you thousands of dollars in fees over the course of your life. Additionally, the tool tracks your spending to ensure that you are able to meet your savings goals.
As you work with Personal Capital, you can build a solid financial picture on the dashboard, which is a free feature. With all of your finances in one place, you will be able to see if you are on track to meeting your goals. If you are not on track, the platform will offer suggestions on how to get closer to your goals. A few of the indicators shown on the dashboard are your net worth, available cash and portfolio details.
It is free to get started, but if you want to engage a human to help manage your portfolio you’ll pay 0.89% a year, which is higher than some other robo-advisory services. If your balances are more than $1 million those fees are discounted, which means this service may make more sense for someone who’s already amassed a big nest egg.
The program is browser-based, but there are apps for iOS and Android devices.
Prism is a free app that concentrates on managing your bill payments. Once you download it and sign up for the service, you connect all of your bills to the service as well as your payment accounts — your banking account and maybe a credit card account if you like to pay some bills with a credit card.
The app keeps track of your upcoming payments and can send you reminders about due dates. Then you’re able to pay your bills directly through the app. You can either pay the bill then or schedule it for an upcoming date.
Prism helps you track your spending too, by allowing you to see how much you’ve spent on every bill in the current month, as well as past months. The app will also notify you if a bill looks out of the ordinary.
The app is free, and you can use it on iOS, Android, Windows 8 and Kindle devices.
Mint is one of the best personal finance tools available for free. It can help you build a budget that suits your needs and then help to keep you on track. The app will track your spending and continually make recommendations to refine your budget. It will even send you an alert if you are about to go over budget.
In addition to tracking your spending, the app also tracks your bills. You can see all of your bills and accounts in one place. The reminders to schedule payments and get alerts about your bills can really help you see where your money is going every month.
The app is very versatile, so you will have the ability to adjust your budgets as your needs change. Life is unpredictable, so it’s good to have all of your financial information in one place to help you make decisions along the way. The app will allow you to manage your finances from your phone, so it is a great tool for anyone with a busy life.
In addition to bill pay and expense tracking, Mint also offers a free credit score. If you need help improving your score, Mint will offer insight on how to get to where you want to be.
Mint is available for free for iOS and Android.
5. Pocket Guard
Pocket Guard is a simple app that can help you keep track of your finances without a hassle. The app can track all of your purchases and help you see exactly how much money you have left to spend for the month.
When you sign up for the app, you will be asked to link most of your financial accounts. This includes your credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, investments and any loans that you need to pay off.
As you spend money each month, the app will break that spending into categories to help you understand where your money is going. Through this analysis, you may be able to find ways to trim your spending habits. Or at least move the money to categories that you actually want to spend money in.
Based on your bills, spending habits and goals that you set, Pocket Guard will create a simple budget for you to follow. The app will also help you find ways to improve your financial health by negotiating for lower bills and saving more money with high-interest savings accounts.
Throughout the month you can check the app to see what you have available to spend. The app factors in your bills and savings goals before giving you the “safe to spend” number. So it will always be easy to know where you stand for the month.
You can always check the app before you make a purchase to ensure you have the money to spend. This is a free app for iOS and Andriod, so it is worth checking out.
You might feel slightly overwhelmed by the idea of managing your finances completely by yourself. That is totally understandable. At times it might feel like the only way to manage all of your accounts is through a personal assistant. Although hiring a personal assistant may be unrealistic, Albert aims to be the next best thing.
Albert is an easy-to-use app that can keep track of all of your accounts. It also monitors your spending habits and asks you about your goals. After gathering this information, Albert will offer personalized advice to help you improve your financial situation and reach your goals.
In addition to the advice, Albert will set up a budget that’s designed to help you stick to it. Albert will also automatically transfer money into your savings account every month. This auto-savings feature can really help you if you’re not disciplined enough to stash spare cash in savings on your own.
Most of the features offered by Albert are free, but if you pay a small monthly fee then you can gain access to human experts to help you with your financial decisions. The fee for the Albert Genius package is actually up to you. The company allows you to pay what you think is fair for their services.
There’s no word on exactly who those “geniuses” are, so when it comes to complex decisions — especially those about investments — you still may be better off hiring a human whose credentials you’re able to check.
Acorns is an app designed to help you to save money more easily and use those funds to start investing.
The tool will help you save by automatically squirreling away the extra change from any transaction you make. After you link your credit cards and debit cards, the tool will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and then save the change for you. The money will be sent to an investment portfolio.
The investments are small, so it is called “micro investing,” but those small amounts can add up over time. In addition to the slow build-up, your account may grow through stress-free investments.
The process is automatic and painless, so you hardly even realize that its happening. Although it is simple, it can really help to grow your investment account.
In addition to the extra change harvested from your regular purchases, you can also set up a recurring payment to the investment account. Once you set the payment, you do not have to think about it again.
You can get started with Acorns for free, but you will have to pay monthly investment management fees to continue using the service. The company has three different membership levels that are very affordable. The first option is for accounts with a balance below $5,000, you will have to pay $1 per month. Choose the level that suits your needs.
Another benefit to Acorns is that it’s free to use for college students. After you prove that you are a student with your .edu email address, you can use the service for free for up to four years.
The app is available for iOS and Android.
A large part of managing your money well is knowing where your money actually goes. Wally can help you track all of your spending in one easy place. The app will show you exactly how much money you have spent each month and inform you about how much money you have left to spend.
The app will track which categories you spend the most money in, what days of the week you spend the most money and more. One thing that sets Wally apart from other apps is that Wally can convert the amount spend in another currency, which will help you stay on budget even if you are out of the country.
The app is 100% free, but you may want to pay for some of the upgraded features occasionally. You can use it on iOS and Android devices.
You may have heard of the envelope budgeting method. It is a popular way for people to get their debt under control and keep their spending in check. The simplest version of the envelope system is that you take a look at your variable spending categories, set up an envelope for each category and then place the monthly amount of cash in the envelopes. If you run out of cash in the envelope, then you cannot spend the money from a different source. You can find out more in our article on the envelope budgeting system.
The envelope system is a great one and it has worked for many people. However, it can be difficult to commit to only spending cash in our digital world. That’s where Mvelopes comes in.
Mvelopes is an app that combines the effectiveness of the envelope system with modern technology. The app will force you to divide up your spending categories and place a limit on each one. Once you have set the categories, you will need to stick to the spending plans. You can keep track of the totals through the app.
The main drawback to Mvelopes is that it is a paid service. The lowest plan starts at $4 per month. Although that is a fairly low price, it is important to remember that you could accomplish the same goals through this method with cheap envelopes and cash.
This app is only a good fit if you want to try the envelopes system, but know that you cannot make it work without the technology.
Budgeting to create room for investment is important. The more money that you can grow, the better off your long-term plans will be.
If you are new to investing, then Robinhood may the right app for you. It will allow you to invest in the stock market for free, so it is a good place to learn how to invest effectively.
As the name suggests, the company wants to be an investment tool for the masses, not just the wealthy. Unlike the hero Robin Hood from the fairy tales, these guys are not stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Instead, they say they aim to allow everyone to have a chance to invest their money in the market.
The theory is that you will learn how to invest by actually investing. You will be able to build a portfolio through the app.
11. Good Budget
Good Budget is a great option for anyone who needs to take a significant other into account. Many budgeting apps do not allow for you to add a partner to your spending habits, but Good Budget does. By syncing your accounts, you will be able to see how the budget is being affected by both spenders.
If you are sharing your finances with a partner, then this may be the best option to work together.
The app is based on the envelope system, which is used to divide your spending into categories. You can use up to 10 categories for free. After that limit, you will have to pay for extra envelopes.
At each payday, you will add to your envelopes. Remember, you can only spend what is in the envelopes each month. The electronic envelope system may be just what you need to keep your spending on track.
You can share your data between iOS and Android devices.
Only use Simple if you are willing to switch to a new bank. The budgeting app is actually a completely new bank that acts as your checking account. But unlike many conventional banks, Simple has many budgeting features that will help keep your spending on track.
As you go through the month, you can check in with the app to see how much spending money you have available. It will let you know if you are getting close to your limit. You’ll also be able to track your spending with the app.
Overall, this is a great banking and budgeting app that kills two birds with one stone.
Stash is very similar to Acorns. It will not help you budget your money, but it will make saving easier.
You can start investing your extra change through the app with as little as $5. You choose from more than 30 investment “themes” that reflect your interests and goals.
One thing to beware of, though, is that after the first month you’ll pay a $1/month subscription fee to use the service (if your account balance is below $5,000). That may not sound like much, but it could actually be as much as you’re making from the micro-investments.
Other Resources to Help You Develop a Great Budget
Building a strong budget is an important part of your financial future. By spending your money effectively and using your resources wisely, you will be able to create a solid financial future. Creating the right budget for you and your family can seem challenging, but it does not have to be.
The best way to make it simpler is by learning more about the basics of budgeting. Throughout your journey to financial success, you should be building your financial knowledge. Budgeting basics are no exception to this rule!
Learning how to create a budget that works for you does not have to be painful.
You can learn a lot by reading articles and books that will help you understand the importance of creating a strong budget. Continue learning about the different categories and recommended percentages as you work to create the right budget for you.
You Can Do It
Creating and sticking to a budget can be a daunting task at times. As we all know, life is expensive. We cannot always plan for what is ahead, but we can make an effort to spend wisely today.
It is important to keep a positive mindset when working with a budget. Remember that budgeting is absolutely not a bad thing! Too many people think that budgets are constricting, but they do not have to be. If you create the right budget and keep your long-term goals in mind, it should be easier to stick to the plan.
Do not feel too bad if you go over budget occasionally. It is not healthy to beat yourself up about it. Just use the tools available to get you back on the right track!
What tools will you start using to manage your budget?