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There are many benefits to budgeting, like being able to save money, pay off debt, and achieve your financial goals. If you’re looking to step up your budgeting game this year, there’s a simple tool we all carry around can transform the way we approach building a budget and sticking to it: our smartphones.
With the right budgeting app, you can quickly track your expenses, manage your money, and reach your financial objectives. Here are some of the best budgeting apps that you can download on your phone today.
You Need a Budget (YNAB)
What is it: What is YNAB? You Need a Budget, often referred to as YNAB, is an award-winning app that has helped new budgeters save an average of $600 within the first two months.¹
The app is based on four rules:
- Give every dollar a job. You decide where your money is going and plan for often-forgotten expenses, like annual renter’s insurance or club membership fees. You can save for these using sinking funds.
- Embrace your true expenses. Be honest about what you’re spending money on.
- Roll with the punches. If you overspend or need to shift around your budget, you can. Because, well, life happens.
- Age your money. Use last month’s income for the next month’s expenses, effectively breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle.
This app could be a lifesaver if you’re struggling to track bills and stay caught up.
- Easily syncs your bank statement transactions and other financial accounts
- Includes tools to help you set and track financial goals
- Provides detailed reports and educational resources
- Safe and secure
- A fee applies after the initial trial period ends
- No bill payment option within the app
- Limited support for international banks
- Can take time to learn the YNAB system
Cost: Free for 34 days, then $14.99 per month or $99 per year²
Best for: People who want to stop living paycheck to paycheck and get ahead with budgeting.
What is it: Tiller is a web-based platform that makes it easy to get your hands on your financial data and know where your money is going.
Are you a spreadsheet nerd? Then Tiller could be one of the best budgeting apps for you.
This app uses the power of Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel to automatically track your spending so you can see your financial data in one place.
- Works with thousands of banks, lenders, investment firms, and other financial institutions
- Customizable budgeting templates help create your own expense categories and goals
- Track your budget, work to pay off debt, and know your overall net worth
- The Tiller budgeting system is easy to learn, even for budgeting beginners
- A fee applies after the initial trial period ends
- Doesn’t include bill payment, credit score tracking, or investment tracking
- The desktop version has more features, which may not be a match if you prefer to budget on the go
- The spreadsheet-based budgeting approach may have a learning curve for some
Cost: Free 30-day trial. After that, $79 per year or $6.58 per month³
Best for: People who want to get their expenses under control and are comfortable using a budget app that relies on spreadsheets.
What is it: EveryDollar is a monthly budget app that helps you stay on top of your finances by tracking everything so you can know if you’re meeting your target or not and where you may need to adjust.
If you’re paying off debt, you might have heard of Dave Ramsey, who’s probably best known for his “baby steps” approach, which he discusses on his financial podcast. His team has created the EveryDollar budgeting app, which offers budgeting templates that you can easily customize for your personal finances. You give every dollar a job and tell it where it goes. To get started with the app:
- Enter your monthly income.
- Plan for expenses.
- Track your expenses.
If you prefer a zero-based budgeting strategy, this monthly budget app could work for you.
- Easy-to-use budgeting app
- Sync between multiple users, which is great if you’re budgeting with a spouse, significant other, or roommate
- Split transactions into different budget categories if needed
- Basic version is free to use
- Free version requires you to track spending manually
- Annual fee is on the pricier side for a monthly budget app
- Doesn’t track investments
- Not ideal for budgeting with irregular income
Cost: Free 14-day trial for premium, then $17.99 per month or $79.99 per year⁴
Best for: People who need help staying on top of their budgeting while paying off debt.
What is it: Monarch Money helps you consolidate all your financial information from several accounts, uses AI to categorize your transactions automatically. The app caters to all levels of budgeting, from beginners to experts. It is helpful for couples looking to sync all their bank accounts in one place and maintain separate logins.
It offers customizable features tailored to your specific financial goals and needs. Monarch stands out for its core features like budget tracking tools, tracking financial goals, and customizable monthly reports.
- Customizable budgeting tools and separate logins for couples
- Goal-setting feature to help you achieve financial objectives
- Automatic expense categorization for a better understanding of spending habits
- Some features may require a premium subscription
- Limited investment tracking capabilities
- High monthly subscription fee
Cost: Seven-day free trial, then $14.99 per month or $99 per year⁵
Best for: People who have multiple financial accounts, including couples who have separate accounts, and prefer to see their financial information together in one place.
Mint (Moving to CreditKarma)
What is it: Mint is an OG budgeting app that’s been around since 2007. Mint announced that starting in 2024, the app would be discontinued, and users are encouraged to sign up for CreditKarma, which has created a similar experience using some of Mint’s most popular features.⁶
With the merger with CreditKarma, users can still connect their financial accounts to thousands of institutions, categorize transactions, monitor expenses, and track their net worth. You can also monitor your credit score and get personalized tips catered to your specific financial situation all through the app.
The new Mint-inspired experience through the CreditKarma app will also be free.⁷
- The app is free and easy to use, even if you’re new to budgeting
- Create financial summaries to see where your money is going at a glance
- Syncs to your financial accounts so you can set up alerts and notifications inside the app
- Track your credit score for free each month
- Can take time to set up properly
- Some users have run into issues with syncing financial accounts
- Expenses may be miscategorized in your budget
- Mint merging with CreditKarma means that some classic Mint features may not be available anymore
Best for: CreditKarma is a solid option for people who want a free basic budgeting app for tracking expenses and income along with credit score monitoring features.
Empower (Formerly Personal Capital)
What is it: Empower goes beyond just helping you maintain a budget. It also gives you a big-picture look at where you are financially.
Empower is one of many top budgeting apps, and you can use it to do more than making a monthly budget. It can help you track your net worth, look at investments, and build wealth. With Mint no longer available, Empower is a great Mint alternative if you’re looking for a free budgeting app.
Using Empower, you can:
- Create a budget.
- Track your expenses.
- See account balances for your bank accounts and investments.
- Set up a monthly budget showing a pie chart of your expenses and high-spend days.
- Use their retirement planner and track your net worth. That way, you can effectively plan for the future and keep your finances in order.
- Packed with highly useful (and free) financial management tools
- Monitor your budget and your retirement investments in one place
- Get access to advice from professional financial advisors
- Automate your investments to grow wealth
- Not designed to be used as a budgeting tool primarily
- You’ll need $100,000 or more to invest with Empower⁸
- An annual management fee applies to investment accounts
- Cash management account earns a relatively low APY
Cost: Free if you’re only using the budgeting and financial tools⁹
Best for: People who want to track their budget and net worth from month to month.
Simplifi by Quicken
What is it: Simplifi by Quicken is a budgeting app that helps you track your income, spending, and saving goals. It’s easy to use and can be accessed from your computer or mobile device.
Simplifi uses data aggregation to securely connect your bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts in one place. This lets you see a comprehensive view of your finances, including spending trends, account balances, and upcoming bills.
Some of Simplifi’s standout features include:
- Automatic transaction updates
- Customizable monthly spending plan
- Money spent reports
- Upcoming bill payment calendar
- Watchlist to monitor spending in certain categories or with specific retailers
- Customize your monthly budget
- Automatic transaction categorization
- Spend insights and monthly reports
- No free trial
- Limited features for tracking debt payoff and savings goals
Cost: $3.99 per month billed annually¹⁰
Best for: Anyone looking for a simple budgeting app that is smooth and easy to navigate. It’s helpful for anyone wanting a bird’s eye view of their finances but who doesn’t want the bells and whistles of more comprehensive personal finance software.
What is it: Goodbudget is one of the best budgeting app options for digital “envelopes” to help you assign a specific amount of money to each spend category to use accordingly.
Goodbudget allows you to track your income and expenses, customize your budget, save money for future expenses, and track your debt payoff. This budgeting app also offers real-time syncing across devices, making it easy for users to access their budget on multiple platforms.
- Real-time syncing across devices
- Customizable budget categories and envelope system
- Budget reports and graphs for better visual representation
- Limited features with the free version
- No automatic categorization of expenses (requires manual input for each transaction)
- Can be time-consuming to set up initially
Cost: Free plan with limited features; Plus or premium account is $8 per month or $70 annually¹¹
Best for: People looking to improve their financial management skills who prefer the envelope budgeting system or want a visual representation of their budget.
Your financial institution’s app
Your bank or financial institution may already have a budgeting app or budget and expense tracking features as part of its mobile banking app. This is a convenient and free option to help you track your spending, set financial goals, and monitor your income and expenses.
Your financial institution’s app may not allow account syncing from other banks or investment accounts. However, if you’re just looking to manage your checking account activity and contribute to a few savings goals, this could still be an option worth considering.
Chime’s award-winning mobile banking app helps you stay on top of your money by providing daily balance notifications, transaction reporting, and the option to round up purchases to help you save more money.
To help you create a basic budget, Chime’s free budget calculator allows you to plug in your expense categories and calculate a spending plan using the popular 50/30/20 budgeting method.
Take control of your finances with a budgeting app
Any time is a good time to start making – and sticking to – a budget. The key is to find the best budget app that works for your financial goals.
Whether you’re looking for a simple app to track your expenses or a comprehensive wealth management tool, there is an app out there for everyone.
Trying to save even more money? Try the 100 envelope challenge.
Are budgeting apps worth it?
Budgeting apps are generally worth it if you don’t spend more than you can afford. Tracking your budget can create positive change and better financial habits, which can pay off over the long term.
Are budgeting apps safe?
In general, budgeting apps are safe to use for managing your money. The best budgeting apps include security protection to encrypt your data. You can take additional steps by choosing unique passwords, enabling multi-factor authentication, and only logging in using secure WiFi.
YNAB vs Mint: What are the pros and cons?
Mint is shutting down and officially recommends that users switch to CreditKarma. In terms of the differences between YNAB vs. CreditKarma, cost and function are largely what set them apart. YNAB requires a monthly or yearly fee while CreditKarma doesn’t. YNAB uses spreadsheets to manage your budget on a forward-looking basis, which could work well for you if you’re spreadsheet-savvy. CreditKarma, on the other hand, is an app that makes it easier to manage your current monthly budget from your mobile device.
What is the difference between Mint and Goodbudget?
Mint is shutting down and officially recommends that users switch to CreditKarma. One major difference is that CreditKarma automatically syncs with your financial accounts, including bank accounts, credit cards, loans, investments, and more. This makes it easier to get a full picture of your finances in one place. Goodbudget, on the other hand, requires manual input of all your financial transactions. Another difference is that CreditKarma offers a free service, while Goodbudget has a subscription fee for additional features. This makes CreditKarma more accessible for those on a tight budget.
Is there a good alternative to Mint?
If you are looking for an alternative to Mint now that it’s merging with Credit Karma, there are several options available. Some popular alternatives include Personal Capital, YNAB (You Need A Budget), and EveryDollar. Each of these tools offers unique features and pricing options, so it’s important to research to find the best fit for your financial needs. If your financial institution has features similar to a budgeting app available through online banking, this is also a solid free alternative to Mint to consider.