Whether you’re well off or living on a fixed income, creating and sticking to a budget is essential if you want to reach your financial goals. But like most important things in life, budgeting isn’t easy. It requires an honest assessment of your income and expenses, as well as your spending habits. For someone who’s new to the budgeting game, setting a budget and committing to it can seem a bit daunting. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best budgeting apps available.
Mint is one of the most popular budgeting apps, and for good reason. It streamlines the budgeting process so you hardly have to do a thing. You connect the app to your bank and it uses your financial details to create a personalized budget just for you. If that seems a little sketchy, don’t worry. Mint is completely secure, and is run by the same service as Quicken and TurboTax, so you can rest assured they take all the necessary precautions to ensure your data and account information is safe.
Based on your spending habits, Mint offers tips on how to reduce the money spent on fees and other bills (including overdraft fees and late payments). It also provides you with your credit score so you can get a broader view of your financial situation. Currently, this app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. You can also visit the online site to pay and manage bills.
Like Mint, PocketGuard is connected directly to your bank accounts, allowing you to have constant supervision over your current balance and transactions. This app is great for those who aren’t so keen on doing constant balance vs. spending calculations. On the home screen, it shows you how much is in your account (your “pocket”), your income, and how much you’ve spent. It analyzes your spending and identifies recurring payments. It then helps you determine how much money is in your account vs. how much is expendable. You can also view easy-to-read charts showing your spending habits, and use a tool to find where you can cut back. This app is available on iPhone, Android, and online, as well as on Apple Watch.
- You Need a Budget
You Need a Budget takes the most simple budgeting principles and puts them into play in a user-friendly manner that’s great for beginners. This category-based app allows you to easily allocate available cash for bills, discretionary spending, savings, and debt payments. If something unexpected comes up, like a car repair or emergency room visit, that you didn’t budget for, the app allows you to move funds from one of the budgeted categories to cover that cost. Whenever you go over budget, the app highlights the category in which you overspent so you can re-allocate money and get your budget back on track. Even more helpful, the app gives you access to free video classes and a community of helpful, dedicated followers who’re available to guide and motivate you when you’re feeling stuck. The app is cloud-based, so you are able to import transactions from all accounts.
- Every Dollar
Developed by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey, Every Dollar is similar to You Need a Budget in that it is based on the envelop concept and the principle that every dollar has a “job.” The app begins with eight main categories: giving, savings, housing, food, insurance and tax, lifestyle, transportation, and debt. You’re able to add more categories as needed. You allocate funds to the “planned” field in each budget category. With each transaction, funds are deducted or added to the corresponding category.
Aside from tracking your spending, Every Dollar incorporates Ramsey’s famous baby steps philosophy to finances:
- Save a $1,000 emergency fund
- Pay off all debts using the snowball method
- Save 3-6 months of expenses
- Save 15 percent for retirement
- Start a college fund for the kids
- Pay off the house
- Build wealth and give
Within the apps, you can see where you are with each of the seven goals. It also offers tips from Ramsey’s blog to help you achieve each goal.
It is free to use as long as you don’t mind manually entering transactions. To connect it with all of your bank accounts, you can buy the premium package for $99.
5) Good Budget
Good Budget is another system that embraces the “envelope” method. The app syncs your budgets with all of your devices and can even incorporate multiple users, which makes it great for couples. It helps you to plan your savings for major purchases like a vacation, new house, or new car, and helps you stick with the plan as well.
The app is available on Android and iPhone for free. You can pay an additional $15 for a three-month subscription or $24 for six months, which gives you access to more “envelopes,” and the ability to view more budget history information. A subscription also lets you connect more accounts and devices.
Whatever your financial goals, budgeting is the first step to achieving them. Money isn’t easy, but thanks to technology, it sure can be a whole lot easier. Do you have some of your own favorite finance apps you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!