Budgeting apps are financial software that can help you get better at budgeting. With all of today’s temptations, it can be difficult to avoid the impulse to purchase things we don’t need. Besides this, not everyone is willing to find time to accurately track their spending. Luckily, there are plenty of finance-friendly apps that will do your budgeting for you.
Below, we’ll break down the best finance and budget app choices for 2020. With any of these choices, you’re bound to get a good glimpse of your actual spending habits and save money for more important things.
What Are Budgeting Apps?
Personal finance applications are on the rise. It used to be that if you wanted to maintain your budget online, you were limited to Microsoft Money or Quicken. While those programs do a great job of managing your money, they aren’t very nimble. It’s a good thing that the past few years have brought us You Need a Budget (YNAB) and Mint. These are the kind of apps that help you create and stick to budgets for particular periods. But these abilities are only the basics.
Nowadays, financial apps have a combination of abilities that surpass even just simple budgeting tasks. A countless number of other apps and programs have since been produced that offer more than you would expect in a budgeting app. Since we are somewhat addicted to our phones, there isn’t any reason for not being able to keep up with your budget—especially if it’s in your pocket all day long.
What to Look for in a Budgeting App?
Your choice of budgeting app needs to have at least two or three of these features to serve you well: budgeting tools, bill reminders, and net worth monitoring. Budgeting tools help you to build a budget and monitor your spending. For example, you can keep track of how much you’re spending on eating out, shopping, or travel. Bill reminders set up due date alerts for your bills to ensure that you never miss payment dues.
Account monitoring, on the other hand, gives you the ability to view your account balance. It also easily calculates your net worth for a specific period. Most budgeting tools also can integrate with banks and lenders. This tracks your transactions from multiple accounts and allows for a holistic picture of your spending. This makes it much easier to manage your money from separate accounts. It also makes it easy to monitor your overall balance from across the board. Some hybrid finance apps are also able to take on budgeting tasks. They do this while also allowing you to trade in the stock market.
Best Budgeting Apps to Help You Be Smarter With Money
Budgeting apps are great helpers when it comes to managing your finances. They act as a one-stop-shop for your banking accounts to take note of your expenses and bills. Some of them are even integrated as an add-on feature to full-blown investment apps. But otherwise, their main purpose is still limited to budgeting your money and tracking your payment schedules. In any case, here are some examples of the best budgeting apps available:
Mint is a free and easy-to-use budgeting service. The software gives you a platform to set your budget and monitor all of your spendings. It logs all transactions from your accounts and sifts them into categories. Automatic categories include food, rent, and other utilities. You can create sub-categories to further distinguish your expenses. It’s also able to sync multiple accounts. It aggregates the information and tracks your spending. You can link your credit card, bank account, and even PayPal account to the software.
The app is also connected to TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus. As such, it can give you an updated credit score each month. Besides this, it can send you notifications about pending bills, low funds, and more. It also informs you when you’ve spent an unusually large amount so you can check for identity theft.
As for security features, the app has sufficient means to protect your privacy. It uses two-factor authentication and Norton’s VeriSign. This requires your fingerprint plus a four-digit passcode to get in. The mobile app even extends to web software where you can view your financial health.
Mint is available as a mobile app. It’s compatible with Android and IOS devices.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a zero-based budgeting software. The software focuses on the money you already have. And it doesn’t include money you have to earn in the planning process. Each dollar that you own is assigned to a specific category. You can set the parameters for each category, and even set goals for spending and saving. Your overspending in a category will prompt a red alert. You will then be forced to cover that overspending bit from somewhere else in the budget. Besides this, the software can also sync with all your bank accounts. You can even link your investment accounts and mortgage accounts.
The app readily displays your budget and spending progress. This includes your spending totals, trends, and net worth. A section is dedicated entirely to showing your income and spending in each category. This allows you to see a breakdown of your financial life for an entire year or from each month to the next.
YNAB is available as a mobile app compatible with Android and IOS devices. It currently offers a 34-day free trial for users to get started. During this time, you might encounter some highly targeted ads, but it’s not glaring or obstructive. Afterward, you can choose between a monthly or annual subscription plan.
Clarity Money is a budgeting app with bill negotiation features. The app allows you to link your checking and credit accounts. The system keeps tabs on your transactions along with the total balances. You can also visualize your spending and your account balances. This is done using graphs and presentations, which lets you see the fine details of your spending habits. It also lets you see the larger picture of your financial health. You can also set up automatic savings to an external bank. The software can link you to the service, from which Clarity Money will receive a referral payment.
In a unique twist of abilities, the software can help you negotiate the decrease of some of your bills. If Clarity succeeds, they take 1/3 of it as a commission and leave you with savings. These are the only fees that the app will ask for in exchange for its service. Another notable feature is the review of recurring charges. This allows you to view your existing subscriptions to decide which ones to cancel. This could be anything from Netflix to gym subscriptions. It only takes a week for the cancellation to take effect. As for security protocols, users can use a passcode or touch ID to get in. The software also claims to have firewalls and VPNs to protect client information.
Clarity Money is available as a mobile app compatible with iOS devices.
Quicken is a trusted name in budgeting software. The web-based version of it has been around since 1983. This makes it something of a dinosaur treading the face of the earth before most budgeting apps. Nonetheless, the software has been upgraded to adapt to modern budgeting needs. Budgeting is in itself only one of the many features. You can create categories to be budgeted and add the appropriate amount for each. You can also set a budget for each category for each month of the year. There are also other financial tools available. This includes an expense tracker, bills scheduler, and a debt reduction calculator.
You can view your investments and spending trends on the dashboard. And by investments, we mean stocks, bonds, and even Bitcoin. If you already happen to have investments in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or XRP, you’ll need a reliable safe place to store your coins. Choose from this list of the best bitcoin wallets for safe and secure transactions. You can also include balances and transactions from multiple bank accounts. The information is displayed as graphs with various categories. This gives you an accurate picture of your expense distribution over time. You also have the ability to sync up your billers.
Just link up all your billers to the software. The software will mark all due dates. It will also tell you the account balances that you should have based on your upcoming bills. You can also include your projected income for the next few months. For those with debt, the debt reduction calculator helps. This allows you to track current debts and create a plan to pay them off. There’s also a savings feature that lets you set an amount that you need to save by a certain time.
Quicken is available as a mobile app compatible with iOS devices.
Count About is an internet-based budgeting app. The program syncs with your bank accounts and helps you create a financial plan. The program is concentrated online, which means you won’t have to install anything. This also means that all your transactions are saved automatically. This ensures the availability of data in case of an emergency or power outage. All you need is an account and internet access. The software automatically imports files from your bank and other financial institutions. This keeps your records in sync without you having to lift a finger. It’s also an advantage if you have multiple accounts from different firms. The program also integrates with accounting software such as Quicken and Mint.
Once you’ve imported your details, the software will track your accounts and expenses. Once the software is connected to your accounts, you can create a cohesive budget for yourself to cover any period. You can also schedule your payments for your bills as part of your budget. The software is highly customizable. You can tweak fields and even set what appears on the reports. The software also generates expense reports from specific dates. You can also attach images or receipts to your transactions.
Count About is very easy to use and is ideal for both personal and business use. Even beginners should be able to generate expense reports within seconds. It’s primarily available as web software. You can sign up online through their main website. However, you may also choose to download its mobile app compatible with Android and iOS devices. First-time users get to enjoy a 15-day trial period for free. Afterward, you can choose between a monthly or annual subscription plan.
Personal Capital is an all-around personal finance app. The core offering of the software is financial advisory services. This provides a combination of computer-generated advice and consultations with experts. Their goal is to help individuals invest in the right portfolios. If you’re into stocks, you might be interested to know that artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining traction. Get in on the fun and read about the 10 artificial intelligence stocks to buy in 2020.
Besides investment advisory, the software also offers other financial services. Budgeting and cash flow analysis is a part of its array of financial tools. The budgeting tool allows users to create a budget for specific expense categories. At the same time, the software also monitors expenses. There are cash flow tracking and spending pattern analysis. These allow you to identify how much you’re spending and on what. You can also generate reports tracking your spending on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. You can also set up alerts for your upcoming bills.
On financial advising, they also offer assistance in other areas. These include your employer-initiated retirement funds, insurance coverage, and college savings. If you want more than a simple budgeting app, this is the app for you. Personal Capital can be downloaded from multiple platforms. However, the budgeting tools are exclusively available for the mobile version compatible with iOS devices.
Pocket Guard is a personal budgeting app. But before the app can do this, you need to link your existing bank accounts to the app. The software then analyzes everything that you spend each day and how much you have left. What you have left at the end of each day are recorded as pocket amounts. You can view the statistics of your spending from a weekly or monthly perspective. The software also prompts you about upcoming bills and subscriptions. This is to make sure that they’re paid on time. They also help the software calculate your remaining balance at the end of the month.
Moreover, the software is able to identify recurring payments and will ask you to review them. This is a window of opportunity to cancel subscriptions and bills you don’t need. And let’s not forget budgeting. You can set spending limits on specific categories. Expenses are deducted from each category as you go along. This allows you to check whether you’re within budget or not. The software also works with Billshark, a bill negotiation app. Together, the two programs look through your bills and submit those with potential for negotiation. This may include insurance, mortgage, or loans.
Pocket Guard is available as a mobile app. It’s compatible with Android and iOS devices.
WalletHub is a free credit monitoring and a personal finance app. The software pulls your credit scores from TransUnion and updates them daily. Credit scores are important for improving your chances of qualifying for loans. You can also view current accounts that could be affecting your scores and/or report in general. Besides this, a helpful credit analysis tool also lets you estimate how your credit score will be affected by various activities. It takes a look at your payment history, balance, and credit limit.
But it’s not just credit card profiles that the software can provide. The software provides suggestions about new credit cards. These are the types of subscriptions that could save you money with their rewards. There’s also a wide variety of calculators to help you with different payments. This is an extremely useful tool for those who carry any credit card debts. You can compute card balance transfers interest rates, and credit card pay-off time. You can also calculate mortgages, car payments, and cellphone savings.
The software also tackles topics like life insurance and financial advising. Not all budgeting apps have this capability. The software also provides customized recommendations for services you might need. This includes banking, credit, or even real estate. As for security protocols, all your account information is encrypted. Besides this, all the personalized data that you enter are stored anonymously. This should be enough to prevent anyone from moving or stealing funds from your account.
WalletHub is free software, although you must provide some personal information for it to work. You might also receive some highly specialized ads. WalletHub is available as a mobile app compatible with iOS devices.
Pocket Smith is a personal finance tracking app. The product makes it easy to view all of your financial assets and liabilities in one place. You just need to import your accounts. This might include checking accounts, credit cards, or loans. The software is also integrated with other finance apps like Mint. This allows for easy transfer of your complete financial details within minutes. You can also import multiple accounts from the same financial institution. You can put them all into a customized Pocket Smith category. Every time a transaction comes through, the tool will update your central hub. The program generates detailed financial metrics. This can be about your spending, budgets, and account balances.
There’s also a budget planning segment that allows you to set up and view your financial calendar. This also works as a bill scheduler letting you know about looming payments. A forecasting tool also uses account information to forecast your future spending habits. This can also create cash projections years ahead. A unique tool allows you to see the short and long term effects of specified financial plans that you have. An example would be if you’re planning to buy a home. The software will evaluate potential financial effects.
Pocket Smith is available as a mobile app. It’s compatible with Android and iOS devices. The basic plan is free, but users can also choose from a premium or super plan account.
Money Patrol is an all-in-one financial app. The software connects to thousands of financial and bank institutions. It then imports every type of financial data you can think of for analysis, including bank, credit card, and investment accounts. Other information such as student loans and mortgage accounts are also tracked. The program then generates a summary of your overall financial position and spending. This information is presented graphically through your dashboard. The system sorts your transactions automatically into categories. This allows you to get an overview of your overall financial picture. The software also protects your data using military-grade encryption and two-factor authentication.
As a budgeting tool, Money Patrol lets you set a budget for individual spending categories. The program keeps track of how your spending aligns with your budget. The system will also send alerts through email and text. This is mostly to inform you whenever you are overspending. It also serves to remind you about upcoming bills and payments.
Money Patrol is exclusively available for residents of the US and Canada. It’s available as a web-based app, but a mobile app is on the way. First-time users get to enjoy a 15-day trial period for free. Afterward, you can choose between a monthly or annual subscription plan.
Tips for Budgeting Your Money
It’s easy to create a budget, but how do you know you’re spending money on the right things? We need to first go back to the needs vs. wants dilemma. Any payment that you can forego with minor inconveniences would be a want. On the other hand, anything that would severely impact your life is a need. Following this concept, the general rule is always to spend less than you earn. This is what makes budgets so important. Besides this, your budget should also lean more towards your needs rather than your wants.
This brings us to the 50/30/20 rule. This is a basic rule of thumb that financial experts swear by. First, the amount you spend on basic needs should total no more than 50% of your after-tax pay. This includes things such as groceries, housing, and utilities. In addition are health insurance, car payments, and more. Second, you must limit your discretionary spending to 30% of your after-tax salary. This includes your dinner dates with friends, expensive shoes, or Netflix payments. And lastly, 20% should be reserved for your savings and debt repayments. Your debts won’t magically disappear over time, and you need to repay them little by little. Also, consider saving for an emergency fund.
Investing Your Money
Another thing that deserves your financial attention is the art of investing. You could consider setting aside a percentage of your income to invest in stocks and bonds. You can even venture into cryptocurrencies. There are quite a number of resources about stocks and bonds, but cryptocurrencies are kind of a mystery. But hey, if you’re willing to try it out then go for it. Here’s an ultimate guide to cryptocurrency to give you the information you need. Once you’re past the beginner stage with Bitcoin, you may probably want to know the predictions of cryptocurrency.
This equation is sensible, but then again it depends on your income as well. The smaller your income, the higher the chances are that more than 50% of it will be enough to cover your basic needs. Meanwhile, a higher income might mean that only 20% of it would be enough to cover your basic needs. You can bend the rules based on your personal needs and situation. But as a general rule, only spend on things that add value to your life instead of the other way around.
Why Download Budgeting Apps
If you want to know exactly where your money goes, budgeting apps can help. The apps are designed to track your income from multiple sources. They also track your expenses from multiple sources. They can even track other things such as your loans, investments, you name it.
It must be difficult to manually track multiple bank accounts. And it’s even more difficult to consolidate everything into a ledger you can understand. Budgeting apps save you from all these. With the right app, you won’t need to do an in-depth review of your bills and accounts. And you no longer have to whip out your rusty math skills to identify your financial position. Because quite frankly, these tasks are stressful and time-consuming. Let the app do all the tracking and summarizing on your behalf. All you have to do is to read the reports. Besides this, budgeting apps are also great at ensuring you never exceed your budget. Consider them as the personified version of your financial conscience.
Granted, it might sting to stare down your finances and your actual position. It can also be hard to ward off buying new things, especially if they’re on sale. But keep in mind that these new things don’t necessarily add value to your life. And that you also have a steady stream of incoming bills and perhaps debt that you need to pay off. This can be a rude awakening at times, but necessary. When it comes to prioritizing payments, budgeting apps will definitely help keep you on track. It will also help organize your financial life.
And as fintech goes, there are bound to be future improvements to the existing apps that we have now. Learn the other ways technology can enhance the financial industry. We recommend this piece exploring the most popular fintech trends.
Final Thoughts on Budgeting Apps
Budgeting apps are extremely helpful for people who want to make a budget but don’t know where to start. But as with all budgeting apps, how well they work comes down to how well you use them. You also need to observe consistency when it comes to setting and following your budget. The alerts and fancy displays mean nothing if you don’t follow through.
On another note, budgeting apps are quite straightforward in their operations and cannot be expected to handle complicated tasks. If you’re looking for investment tracking or a holistic financial package, this isn’t it. These apps are hyper-focused on budgeting and that’s it. You would also have to proceed at your own risk when sharing bank account information. But rest assured that these apps have a variety of banking-level security measures. They are designed and well-equipped to keep your information safe.
If you’re determined to achieve financial fitness and enjoy the full benefits of living a debt-free life with savings, downloading a budgeting app would be a good start.