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If you’re looking for the best budget app, you know you can choose from an endless number of options available for download. But which ones warrant space on your phone? Budgeting software has to bring more perks than just 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 take up your precious phone space.
Benzinga’s compiled a list to help you decide which budgeting software fits your needs, along with some additional tips to help you identify a good budget app when you see one.
The Best Budget Apps:
- Best Overall: Acorns
- Best Budget App for Investments: Personal Capital
- Best Holistic Budgeting App: Monarch Money
- Best for Automatic Investing: Stash
- Best FREE Trial: Tiller Money
- Best Budgeting and Banking Combo App: Empower
- Best Budget App for Paying Off Debt: You Need A Budget (YNAB
- Best for Learning About Spending Habits: Digit
Table of contents [Show]
- The Best Budget Apps:
- 8 Best Budget Apps
- 1. Best Overall: Acorns
- 2. Best Budget App for Investments: Personal Capital
- 3. Best Holistic Budgeting App: Monarch Money
- 4. Best for Automatic Investing: Stash
- 5. Best Free Trial: Tiller Money
- 6. Best Budgeting and Banking Combo App: Empower
- 7. Best Budget App for Paying Off Debt: You Need A Budget (YNAB)
- 8. Best for Learning About Spending Habits: Digit
- Things to Look for in a Great Budget App
- 1. Fits Your Needs
- 2. Offers an Intuitive Design
- 3. Plenty of Customer Service Options
- Choose the Best Budget App for You
8 Best Budget Apps
Benzinga has compiled a list of the best budget apps based on the criteria above. While each app has its ups and downs, remember that the app you choose should suit your budget and situation. The list starts with Acorns; it can help you save pennies and invest. However, you might also want to look further for more resources depending on where you find yourself financially.
Take a look, download the apps, compare and take control of your monthly budget.
1. Best Overall: Acorns
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 helps 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 Benzinga loves: Acorns launched a new debit card that allows you to invest the extra change from transactions made with the card. This is a good app for kids who just got their first bank accounts, or it can serve as a passive savings app for adults who finally have money to save.
Price: Free for college students, $1 per month for standard accounts, or $2 per month if you create an IRA.
If you’re ready to get your finances in shape, but aren’t sure where to start, this is it! In under an hour, find out how to save, invest and earn more money, stop living paycheck to paycheck and make real progress toward the future you want.
Led by Jennifer Barrett, Chief Education Officer at Acorns, this basic course breaks down the what, when, how and why of personal finance to help you start building wealth—no matter how much money or financial knowledge you’ve got to start.
You’ll learn the basics of personal finance and get simple, on-the-go techniques and tools to help your money work as hard as you do.
What’s the difference between this and other personal finance courses? We’re focused on methods that are easy and sustainable—not disruptive to your everyday life.
By the end of this course, you will have a clear sense of where you are financially, where you want to be—and how you’re going to get there. You’ll feel less stressed about money, and more confident about reaching your goals.
You’ll know: how to create a budget you can follow, pay debt off faster, save more money on everyday purchases and big-ticket expenses, ask for a raise, start a successful side hustle and invest wisely to build wealth. (Make sure to check out the downloadable action plans, worksheets and other resources, too, to get the full benefit of the course!)
Apply what you’ve learned and you should see a noticeable difference not just in your finances, but in your life.
2. Best Budget App for Investments: Personal Capital
Looking for more investing help along with your budget? 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 works well 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 requires a $100,000 account minimum. Financial advisory services come with a fee of 0.89% of total managed assets. However, for investors who seek hands-off wealth management and expert tax-loss harvesting in a budget app, Personal Capital offers a great choice.
What Benzinga loves: Personal Capital offers clients a retirement planner to help you put your earnings to future use.
Price: 0.89% fee for managed assets
3. Best Holistic Budgeting App: Monarch Money
When you visit Monarch Money, you will find that this app makes it easier to manage your money than ever. However, Monarch Money is much more involved than just budgeting. With the benefits listed below, you can get started with what Monarch calls “the modern way to manage your money”:
- Reviewing your finances
- Securely add partners, banks and investment portfolios as needed
- Get personalized advice from an expert
- Track all your money in one place
- Customize your dashboard
- Learn how to save more money
- Watch your spending
- Create financial goals
- Always keep your information safe
You can set up a budget, invest, save and make all the right financial moves with just one app. Plus, you can share the account with your spouse, work with your roommates if you need to or turn it into a family affair.
4. Best for Automatic Investing: Stash
Stash has 3 tiered plans to choose from. Stash Beginner costs just $1 per month and works well for first-time budgeters and new investors. You’ll get:
- Access to investing in fractional shares
- A personal investment account
- Access to your Stash banking account with no hidden fees1
- Savings and budget tools
- Advice and education
- Paid up to 2 days early in your Stash banking account2
For an additional $2 per month, you’ll have the Stash Growth plan, which is better suited for saving for the long haul and investing long term. It comes with all the perks above, plus access to a Roth or IRA account, which offers potential tax benefits and personalized retirement advice. The last plan offered by Stash, Stash+, costs just $9 per month and may be better for families and knowledgeable investors. You’ll receive everything included in the Stash Beginner and Stash Growth plans, plus custodial (UGMA/UTMA) accounts for up to two kids and a market insights report delivered monthly.
- $0 for Personal Portfolio, Investment Account (Taxable Brokerage Account) and Bank Account
- $1 for IRA and Custodial Accounts
Stash is a personal finance hub app that offers access to investing and banking services. Designed for everybody, you can use Stash to budget, invest, bank, and gain financial literacy. Additionally, they offer tiered monthly subscription plans.1
- Casual investors or people looking to test the waters
- Long-term investors who can tolerate potential market volatility
- Savvy investors who can self-direct their strategy with the help of expert advice
- No investing minimums2
- Fractional shares
- Flat-rate fee structure3
- All educational services are done through the app/website, and there is no personal advisor on the phone or in person
- Can’t roll over existing retirement accounts like a 401(k) or IRA
5. Best Free Trial: Tiller Money
Looking for the best free or low-cost budget apps for personal finances based on price, platform, customer service and software? Put Tiller on your list.
Link your bank, credit card and other financial accounts so you can see what’s happening to your financial life. It takes just 3 steps:
- Step 1: Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Tiller Money.
- Step 2: Link and securely authenticate accounts in the Tiller Money Console.
- Step 3: Open Google Sheets or Excel to customize your import options.
You’ll get flexible monthly and yearly budgets, free community-supported templates and reports for tracking net worth, saving goals, debt and more. You can also find automatic categorization, daily account summaries and weekly webinars. Tiller Money makes privacy and security a priority as well.
Tap into Tiller Money for free for 30 days. After 30 days, Tiller Money costs $79 per year — just $6.58 per month! Start your free 30-day trial today.
6. Best Budgeting and Banking Combo App: Empower
Want to save more than ever before this year? Empower offers a budgeting and banking* powerhouse with 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 sheer brilliance is that the app tells you in real time how you’re tracking your budget so you know when to rein in your spending. Empower classifies every expense and shares a monthly report with real insight into where all your money goes.
Want your money to grow faster? Enjoy an interest-accruing checking account that will grow your money far faster than it would with the 5 biggest banks in the U.S., all without the usual banking b.s. — no account minimums, no overdraft fees, no insufficient funds fees and unlimited withdrawals. Empower deposits are FDIC insured up to $250,000.*
Want to save more money this year? Set your weekly savings target. Every day, Empower studies your income, monitors your spending, and automatically knows when to save the exact amount of money you need at the right moment in time. The best part? There’s zero work on your part.
What Benzinga loves: Empower is the whole enchilada — the most complete personal finance solution when you’re looking to save for the future or a rainy day. And even with all these bells and whistles, the app is easy and intuitive to use.
* Empower is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC.
|Budget App||Benefit||What Benzinga Loves|
|Empower – Open an account||Best Budgeting & Banking Combo App||Complete personal finance solution|
7. Best Budget App for Paying Off Debt: You Need A Budget (YNAB)
You Need a Budget (YNAB) offers 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 can quickly adjust budgets when a financial situation changes. YNAB helps 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 nonstandard purchase and where you can cut back to make it happen.
What Benzinga loves: 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
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is the brainchild of Jesse Mecham (CEO) and his wife, Julie, who co-founded YNAB in 2004 while they were still students. Their proprietary approach to budgeting centers around 4 simple rules that can help you take control of your finances. The YNAB principals are: Give every dollar a job, Embrace your true expenses, Roll with the punches, Age your money.
The secret of this common sense, rules-based budgeting process centers around giving every dollar a “job” and then making sure YNAB helps you finish that job.
All the while, the tool helps you stay on top of your expenses and also offers flexibility to deal with the unforeseen, such as an unexpected illness or other unplanned expenses. That’s what makes this simple budgeting tool so effective for money management.
- Anyone who wants to get their finances in order
- Those using their first budgeting app
- Robust platform
- Commonsense approach, starting with “give every dollar a job”
- Offers bank-grade security
- Can easily pull in your financial information
- Offers free workshops and other educational opportunities
- Looks somewhat like a spreadsheet
- $80+ price point is expensive
8. Best for Learning About Spending Habits: Digit
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. Digit, free for the first 30 days followed by a monthly fee of $2.99, learns your spending habits. Digit 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 toward savings for you, without you having to put thought toward it. Digit can automate your personal finances.
Price: Free for 30 days, then $2.99 per month
Things to Look for in a Great Budget App
Though every app differs, you can hone into a few key characteristics that the best budget apps share.
1. Fits Your Needs
Just like every other personal financial product on the market, a budget app appeals to a specific user. Benzinga recommends writing a “wish list” of every feature that you’re looking for in a good budget app and read app reviews online. 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 aim toward 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. Offers 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 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. 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 2 avenues (email and phone) 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.
Choose the Best Budget App for You
The right budget app for you depends 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. Promotions and trial offers appear on a daily basis so it’s worth it to take the time to find an app that suits all of your needs.
Paid non-client endorsement. See Apple App Store and Google Play reviews. View important disclosures.
Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. Investing involves risk and investments may lose value. Holdings and performance are hypothetical.
Nothing in this material should be construed as an offer, recommendation, or solicitation to buy or sell any security. All investments are subject to risk and may lose value.
Stash offers three plans, starting at just $1/month. For more information on each plan, visit our pricing page.
Stash Subscription fee starts at $1/ month. You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the Custodian. Please see the Advisory Agreement for details. Other fees apply to the bank account. Please see the Deposit Account Agreement.
Bank Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC.
For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
1 Other fees apply to the bank account. Please see the Deposit Account Agreement for details. If applicable, your Stash banking account is a funding account for purposes of the Advisory Agreement. Your Stash subscription fee may be deducted from your Stash banking account balance.
2 Early availability depends on timing of payor’s payment instructions and fraud prevention restrictions may apply. As such, the availability or timing of early direct deposit may vary from pay period to pay period.
“Retirement Portfolio” is an IRA (Traditional or Roth) and is a non-discretionary managed account. Stash does not monitor whether a customer is eligible for a particular type of IRA, or a tax deduction, or if a reduced contribution limit applies to a customer. These are based on a customer’s individual circumstances. You should consult with a tax advisor.
Roth IRA: Withdrawals of the money (Contributions) you put in are penalty and tax free. Prior to age 59½, withdrawals of interest and earnings are subject to income tax and a 10% penalty. All earnings are tax free at age 59½ or older, assuming your first contribution was more than 5 years prior. Income Eligibility applies.
Traditional IRA: Withdrawing prior to age 59½, generally means you’re subject to income tax and a 10% penalty. Withdrawals after age 59½ are only subject to income tax but no penalty.
“Kids Portfolio” is a custodial UGMA / UTMA account. Money in a custodial account is the property of the minor. This type of account is a Non-Discretionary Managed account.