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.
The Best Budget Apps:
- Best Budget App for Investments: Personal Capital
- Best Budgeting & Banking Combo App: Empower
- Cheapest Budget App: Acorns
- Best Overall Budget App: Digit
- Best Budget App for Paying Off Debt: You Need A Budget (YNAB)
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Best Budget Apps
We compiled a list of the best budget apps based on the criteria above. Take a look.
1. 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
Price: 0.89% fee for managed assets
Want to save more than ever before this year? Empower is the absolute best choice for you. The award-winning mobile app is a budgeting + banking powerhouse, offering the most comprehensive set of personal finance features in an easy, modern interface.
Having trouble staying on budget? Empower lets you customize budget categories for your lifestyle and set weekly or monthly spend limits. The real brilliance is the app telling you in real time how you’re tracking to budget so you know when to rein in your spending. Empower classifies every expense for you and shares a monthly report for real insight into where all your money is going.
Want your money to grow faster? Enjoy an interest checking account that will grow your money far faster than it would with the five biggest banks in the US. All without the usual banking b.s. – no account minimums, no overdraft fees, no insufficient funds fees, unlimited withdrawals. Empower deposits are FDIC insured up to $250,000.
Want to save more money this year? Set your weekly savings target, and every day Empower studies your income and spending and automatically knows when to save the right amount of money at the right moment in time. And the best part? There’s zero work on your part.
Want the personal touch? Speak with Empower’s human coaches for one-on-one guidance on any financial question. No financial challenge is too big or small, too tricky or basic. Money is personal, so count on Empower to give you personalized financial coaching.
Empower is perfect for people who want only one app to manage their finances.
What we love: Empower is the whole enchilada, the most complete personal finance solution if you’re looking to save more. From budgeting to banking, from digital to human. And even with all these bells and whistles, the app is easy and intuitive to use
Price: Free for 30 days, then $6/month
|Budget App||Benefit||What we Love|
|Empower – Open an account||Best Budgeting & Banking Combo App||Complete personal finance solution|
3. 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.
Price: Free 30-day trial, then $5/month or $50/year
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 its 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.
Price: Free for college students, $1 per month for standard accounts, or $2 per month if you create an IRA.
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. Isn’t it time this automation moved to your wallet? 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
Things to Look for in a Great 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. It suits 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 budgeting software that offers extended customer service options, like service in the evenings and on the weekends.
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.
* Banking services for new accounts provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC.
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