Though budgeting can make the skin crawl and the head spin, the best budgeting apps can simplify the treacherous terrain of personal finances. Choose the right budgeting app for you and you can leave the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle that over two-thirds of Americans live today.
By using clever technology built to work with our monkey brains, budgeting apps streamline money management to be more accessible to the average non-accountant.
Read on and learn about the best budgeting apps on the market that will help save your financial life.
More About Budgeting Apps
Below are our top 5 budgeting apps for budget-phobic folks like you and me. These apps combine great interfaces with cutting-edge algorithmic magic to help you budget better.
Each has their own strengths so let’s see which one would work best for you.
If you are new to budgeting and the whole concept is scary to you, ease yourself in with YNAB.
Short for “You Need A Budget”, YNAB uses 4 key principles to whip your finances into shape. First is the zero-based budget technique, which essentially means that every dollar has a place to go.
Second is to simplify expenses with monthly monitoring. Third is to embrace flexibility in your budget. Fourth is to allow for last month’s pay to cover next month’s expenses. These four core rules guide the YNAB system and teach you good financial habits in a practical way.
YNAB has no free version but it does have a 34 day free trial to feel completely confident with your subscription. After your trial, it is $14.99 per month or $98 per year. Though it’s a little higher priced than the others on this list, it’s one of the most loved budgeting apps for those who want tangible results.
The concept of flexibility and kindness to yourself when budgeting is quite rare in the personal finance realm. It’s refreshing to see a budgeting app take this approach as it’s nurturing to beginner budgeters.
If you’re loved up and combining your finances, budgeting is a different game.
You may have different money management styles to your partner or different ideas about how you should divide the household bills. Honeydue was created to build a bridge between partners, enabling you to take the guesswork out of splitting your budget. Its interface summarizes both your checking accounts and your savings accounts. You can keep track of who paid which bills and which you’ll settle with your joint accounts. Honeydue even has its own joint VISA card to further streamline your finances.
Honeydue is completely free to download and use. There’s no premium version so you get the full suite of features straight away. If you want to reduce fights and increase savings, this is the app for you!
It encourages financial transparency between couples with clearly outlined account balances and easy ways to distribute bills.
We can’t create a full list of best budgeting apps without mentioning Mint! Mint is probably the most well-known budgeting app in the US for all-round financial health. It’s a powerful app that was built to cover all bases. Beyond the basics of financial goal setting, account syncing and bill notifications, it also calculates your net worth and monitors your credit score. We love that it can consolidate more than just your checking accounts. You can sync your mortgage, savings and credit cards too for an in-depth portrait for your finances in one place.
Unlike many others on this list, it is free. For a free interface, it is comprehensive. This app does a bit of everything which is why it’s a household favorite.
It’s free and fully loaded! The amount of features it has makes it one of the most extensive budgeting apps on the market today.
Digit is pretty revolutionary for those looking to save money. It helps you make the best use of your money by setting realistic parameters on your spending and automating savings. Digit will set aside a little money each day making your savings truly effortless.
By using this app, you’ll be encouraged to think differently about your coin which helps it grow! Speaking of which, Digit also enables you to invest via the app.
Digit is a premium app – so no free version, unfortunately. However there is a 30 day free trial to fully test out its capabilities before committing to the $5 per month subscription. If you want an easy-to-use budgeting app that prioritizes your financial goals, you can’t go wrong with Digit.
Digit has automated savings functionality taking the sting out of savings for the financially challenged.
There’s an old adage that it’s not what you earn, it’s how much you save. There is some truth to that. The fact that PocketGuard shows you the ‘safe’ amount to spend as well as the complete balance in your account is a gamechanger. They call this the “In My Pocket” feature and it’s the cornerstone of the PocketGuard strategy to get you out of the red. Overspenders can rejoice in having a clear guideline as to how your money is being spent and where the limits are.
Because of the way it works, PocketGuard requires you to sync your accounts. If you want to avoid that, this is not the app for you. There is a free version but it is basic when it comes to personalization. PocketGuard pro is a reasonable rate at $4.99 per month or $34.99 per year. Curb that spending habit today with PocketGuards intuitive features!
As well as the “In Your Pocket” feature, the app creates personalized spending reports. These help you to see where your money is really going each month.
I sense your skepticism and honestly don’t blame you. These apps seem like the superfood of personal finance, promising to get your financial life in order with a wave of their algorithmic wands. How helpful can these apps be?
The answer is twofold. Yes, they are extremely helpful because they can help automate many processes that we may forget. For example, automated transfers or round-up technology is such a great way to build up an unconscious savings cushion. This does truly feel miraculous if you’ve failed to build savings of any sum before.
That said, an app is only as good as you make it. Meaning that in order for a system to function properly, you have to commit to it. If you don’t sync your accounts, set your goals and personalize the app’s functionality, you’ll miss out on its benefits.
The other thing to remember is that, as of 2023, apps cannot override human nature. There is still an element of self-control with all of these apps. For example, you can dip into your savings pot for an “emergency pair of sneakers”. Your app will record this information but it can’t stop you.
Fundamentally, budgeting apps are tools to assist and guide good financial habits… but you still have to nurture those good financial habits on your own. It’s best to learn how to budget first and then find the tools to support you. That could be an app or it could be an envelope and a spreadsheet. The common denominator is you.
Want more creative ways to budget?
Check out this article for some of the cool and creative ways to save money, outside the typical strategies you hear!
There are so many fantastic budgeting apps on the market today that it can be tricky to choose just one. To wrap up this article, I encourage you to think about what your goals are with your budgeting. Are you trying to curb spending? Then PocketGuard could be your new best friend. Do you want an automated saving system? Digit works perfectly for that.
But don’t feel too pressured to choose one and be married for life. Most budgeting apps have a free trial or a free version, so you can try out multiple and see what suits your lifestyle.
The budgeting app for you aligns with your financial goals, lifestyle and preferred online interaction. Dedicate yourself to thorough trial and error and you will find your Goldilocks app.
Olivia De Santos is a freelance writer, wedding planner and entrepreneur from London, UK. She's a world traveller, wordsmith, film buff, mental health advocate and shea butter enthusiast.