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If you’re looking for the best budget app, you know that there’s an endless number of options available for download. So which ones are worth space on your phone?
Budgeting software has to bring something other than organizing your personal finances to make our list. The best budget app takes into account the way you live and your financial situation in order to be worth your precious phone gigs.
We’ve compiled a list to help you decide which budgeting software is right for you, along with some additional tips and things we love to help you identify a good budget app when you see one.
Quick look – the best budget apps
- Best Overall Budget App: Digit– Open a Free Account
- Best Budget App for Investments: Personal Capital – Open a Free Account
- Best Integration with Personal Finances: Mint
- Best Budget App for Paying Off Debt: You Need A Budget (YNAB)
- Best for Couples: Goodbudget
- Best Budget App for Savings: Acorns
- Best for Tracking Purchases: PocketGuard
- Best Budget App for Basics: Wally
Things to look for in a good budget app
Though every app will differ in its functionality, there are some key characteristics that the best budget apps will all share include.
1. They suit your needs
Just like every other personal financial product on the market, a budget app is intended to appeal to a specific user. We recommend writing a “wish list” of every feature that you’re looking for in a good budget app and read app reviews online to make sure your needs are met.
A budget app can offer the following:
- Some were created to appeal to hardcore organizers who want to label every one of their accounts and purchases.
- Others take a more proactive approach and do the work for you.
- Some budget apps are aimed towards helping consumers learn how to reinvest their money.
- Finally, some budget apps work much better than others with foreign currency conversions. If you have friends or family members outside of the country that you send money to or you’re a forex investor, you may not have total control over your finances with every app.
2. An intuitive design
An app isn’t good for much if you can’t operate it! Some budget apps may have improved compatibility with certain devices. For example, a budget app may not be programmed to work on an iPad or another brand of tablet. Before you commit to a subscription, see if your budgeting software of choice offers a free trial version to play around with to ensure that you like its platform.
3. Plenty of customer service options
Let’s face it—sometimes, technology refuses to cooperate with us. The best budget app understands this and offers a number of options to contact customer service should something go awry. Use your search engine of choice to research the customer service and tech support options for your budget app.
Companies that value their customers offer at least two avenues (email and telephone) for users to contact customer support. If you are very technologically challenged, you may want to search for a budgeting software that offers extended customer service options, like service in the evenings and on the weekends.
Our favorite budget apps
We compiled a list of the best budget apps based on the criteria above. Take a look.
From texting with iMessage to scrolling through your Instagram explore page, apps on your phone work daily to learn more about your habits in order to provide targeted results.
Digit just does this. When you sign up with Digit, which is free for the first 30 days followed by a monthly fee of $2.99, it learns your spending habits. By allowing a budget app like Digit to access to your checking account, it considers your upcoming bills (including credit card payments), your expected purchases (based on your buying history), and the minimum you need in your checking account in order to put money into your savings automatically.
A good budget app means you don’t have to do a single thing to save.
Digit works with your spending habits in order to learn what safe, yet significant amount it can put towards savings for you, without you having to put thought towards it. Whether you’re saving towards an emergency fund, a birthday gift for a dear friend, a down payment, or even to finally join your friends at Coachella this year, Digit is here to automate your personal finances.
Price: Free for 30 days, and then $2.99/month
2. Personal Capital
Is your idea of budgeting less a case of “I need to make it to my next paycheck” and more along the lines of “I need to start investing my money in appreciable assets”? If so, Personal Capital may be the right budget app for you. The budgeting software focuses on providing high-profile clientele with comprehensive investment management using a mix of human and robot financial advisors—all from the palm of your hand.
Personal Capital is for you if you’re an on-the-go professional who only has a few precious moments a day to manage your personal finances and investments. Personal Capital’s account minimum is $100,000, and financial advisory services come with a fee of 0.89% of total managed assets. However, for investors seeking hands-off wealth management and expert tax-loss harvesting in a budget app, Personal Capital offers a great choice.
What we love: Personal Capital offers clients a retirement planner to help them put their earnings to future use.
If you’ve read anything about budget apps, there’s no doubt that you’ve already heard about Mint. Largely considered to be the gold standard when it comes to handheld personal finance management, Mint links up with your bank accounts and updates and categorizes spending habits, allowing you to see a real-time picture of how you are spending your money.
Mint also offers another element good budget apps have, push notifications. These notifications allow you to be alerted when you overdraw on an account, you have a bill payment coming up, or when the budget app detects an unusually large purchase.
Totally free and available for both iOS and Android, Mint is the perfect budgeting software for if you’re looking for basic advice and to learn more about where your money is going, or are looking to formulate a plan for your personal finances, curbing unnecessary spending.
What we love: Mint categorizes the purchases you make, allowing you to visualize where your money is going and easily track your own spending.
4. You Need A Budget (YNAB)
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a great choice if you want more control over your budget or need assistance dealing with changes in personal finances or overcoming debt. YNAB connects with your credit cards and accounts and imports all transactions into the budget app’s database.
YNAB’s budgeting software encourages you to assign a “job” to every dollar coming into your account, helps you identify places you can cut back in order to contribute to savings, and offers a dynamic interface that’s able to quickly adjust budgets when a financial situation changes. What makes YNAB’s a good budget app is its dedication to helping you stop living paycheck-to-paycheck.
YNAB’s most unique feature is its “budget inspector,” which gives users more direct control over their personal finances, specifically plans for upcoming expenses. The inspector feature allows you to quickly see a summary of your cash flow and expected spending, if you’ve saved enough for a non-standard purchase and where you can cut back to make it happen.
What we love: The popular budget app has a “debt paydown” feature that allows users to watch the amount they owe in debt dwindle with payments.
What better way to bond as a couple than with a romantic evening for three—you, your spouse, and your bank account? Okay, personal finances might not exactly be chocolates and roses, but Goodbudget can definitely help you and your partner avoid those ubiquitous arguments over money.
The budget app is based around the “envelope system” of planning a budget—the idea that couples should pool their personal finances and divide it into separate compartments for everything from cell phone bills to rent. Goodbudget digitizes this into a budgeting software, allowing you and your partner to place defined amounts of money into each “envelope,” renewed at the beginning of the month.
The app does not require a third-party service, like QFX from Quicken, to directly import transactions. You can import QFX file types, but they are not necessary to using the budget app. Goodbudget is unique because it allows multiple users to log into a singular account on multiple devices. This makes it an ideal tool for couples working together to save. Also, you can manually import transactions via a recent activity file downloaded from your bank’s website.
What we love: Goodbudget can be used by couples and singles alike. The only commitment you need to make to the budget app is a long-term relationship with your personal finances.
Remember when you were a kid and you’d put all your loose change into a piggy bank? Acorns brings this process into the modern era with a digitized twist in their budget app. Acorns is more than just a budget app, however — it’s a savings and investment tool as well.
The app makes you invest your money before you even notice it’s gone, aiding you in diversifying your personal finances. It does this by connecting with your checking account and rounding up purchases to the nearest dollar and funneling change into a robo-managed investment account.
For example, if you purchase something for $1.75, Acorns will take the extra quarter and invest it for you. Perfect for mindless saving, Acorns is a good budget app for if you have a little money to invest but don’t have the time to commit to researching your investment options.
What we love: Acorns is launching a new debit card that allows you to invest the extra change from transactions made with the card.
Are you prone to overspending? Are your personal finances riddled with overdraft bills causing debt? Do you have the sinking suspicion that you’re overpaying on some of your bills? If you said “yes” to at least one of these questions, PocketGuard is for you.
PocketGuard is a simple budget app that syncs your personal financial data and lays out how much on average you spend and where that money goes. The budget app then provides suggestions on where to cut back and even searches the web for better deals on cable, internet, and cell service to help lower your bills even further!
What we love: The budgeting software of PocketGuard categorizes your purchases and, after paying bills, lets you know how much you have “in your pocket” to spend, creating a simplistic visual display of your budget information.
Looking for an app that only handles your budget? Wally is for you. The Wally budget app allows you to manually enter all of your income sources and expenses to view a snapshot of your personal finances at any given moment. It does not link with your bank account, which some may find tedious, but it’s the perfect budgeting software for those who use multiple accounts or who are wary of entering all their personal financial data into their phone.
While Wally might not have the most user-friendly interface, it’s unique in that the budget app supports almost every type of currency on the market—meaning that unlike most other budget apps, Wally is not limited to only those who deal in U.S. dollars. Best of all, the app is free for both iPhone and Android users.
What we love: Wally is a good budget app for its simplicity. It’s easy to get caught up in the intricacies of other budget apps, but if you want a simple budgeting software to track your personal finances only, Wally is an amazing option.
The right budget app for you will depend on what your financial situation requires. Are you looking simply to manage your cash flow—or are you looking to make your money work for you through investments? Don’t be afraid to try out multiple apps on your search for the right fit—with promotions and trial offers appearing on a daily basis, it’s worth it to take the time to find an app that suits all of your needs.
Summary – Best Budget Apps for Organizing Your Personal Finances
|Budget App||Benefit||What We Love|
|Digit – Open an account||Best Overall Budget App||Learning of spending habits and automated savings|
|Personal Capital – Open an account||Best Budget App for Investments||Retirement planning feature|
|Mint||Best Integration with Personal Finances||Accessible visualization of spending|
|You Need A Budget (YNAB)||Best Budget App for Paying Off Debt||Debt paydown feature|
|Goodbudget||Best for Couples||Functionality with couples and individuals|
|Acorns||Best Budget App for Savings||New debit card compatibility|
|PocketGuard||Best for Tracking Purchases||“In your pocket” feature|
|Wally||Best Budget App for Basics||Basic and simplistic layout|