For many Americans, budgeting can be extremely challenging. Many of us struggle to track our spending, save our money consistently, or remain focused on our long-term financial goals. Not only that, but many of us are juggling numerous savings, spending, and investment accounts, which can be a lot to keep in order. Fortunately, mobile technology gives us a huge leg up on the generations that came before us.
Back in the old days, it was up to you to organize everything on your own. The most advanced technology at your fingertips might have been a calculator, a legal notepad and, if you were inclined to spend the money, sophisticated budgeting software like Quickbooks.
Beyond that, it really was up to you to create your own system for keeping your financial accounts and spending habits in order. Of course, we recognize that budgeting can still be kind of tough if you’re struggling with money, or if you’ve never really learned effective money management strategies.
If you are completely new to the very idea of money management, we’d advise also taking a look at our article on How to Budget.
But we’ll also just go right ahead and tell you upfront that one of our key tips is to explore the various completely free budgeting apps that you can download even as you read this very article. Finding a budgeting app that works on your mobile phone or tablet can bring simplicity, organization, and even a little fun to the challenge of keeping your financial affairs in order.
But which is the best budgeting app for you? That will depend on your needs, habits and, to a large extent, your personal preferences.
- Some budget apps use gamification strategies that offer fun and interesting ways to help you keep track of your spending habits and meet specific financial goals.
- Other budgeting tools connect directly to your bank accounts, credit card accounts, and monthly bills, making it easy to monitor your expenses all in one place.
- Some budgeting apps are built to help put your financial outlook into perspective, provide shared tracking for couples, and offer coordinated features for families.
- Some budgeting apps may offer a free trial before moving to a monthly subscription fee and some will charge users for access to advanced features but still, many of fthe best budgeting apps will be entirely free.
Again, it’s all about you, your financial outlook, and your personal preferences. With that in mind, we’ll tell you the best budgeting apps available. We would generally advise exploring a few options before settling on the best free budgeting app for you.
The 12 Best Spending Apps For Managing Your Budget
Mint is offered by financial software firm Intuit. According to the industry leader’s own website, Mint is the #1 most downloaded budgeting app on the market today. With more than 30 million users, the popular budgeting app lets you link up to your cash accounts, credit cards, investments, and bills, which means you can get a full panoramic view of your finances at just a glance. You’ll also receive helpful tips and offers that can help improve your savings and financial outlook, all in a secure, encrypted environment.
- Expense Tracking
- Budget Tracking
- Bill Payment Reminders
- Credit Score Monitoring
- Bill Negotiation
- Mint boasts a user-friendly interface and simple set up which means users who are new to personal money management can start making strides right away..
- The budget app provides automatic transaction categorization so you can track your transactions in multiple spending categories, and get a more refined sense of where your money is really going.
- Mint encourages financial goal setting and helps you take the strategic steps to reach these goals.
- Mint may not be able to sync up with every bank account. Be sure your bank accounts are compatible before choosing this app.
- Mint also has some limitations when it comes to tracking your investments and investment accounts, which means it might not be the ideal standalone app for those focused on portfolio management and retirement goals.
YNAB–which stands for “You Need a Budget”–takes a fun and accessible approach to spending and budgeting. Recognizing the psychological components that come with spending and saving, YNAB promises guilt free spending for users who effectively take control of their finances. By bringing clarity and organization to your spending habits, YNAB promises to make it clear where your hard-earned money is actually going. This, says YNAB, will help you develop effective strategies for cleaning up your finances, meeting your savings goals, and reducing feelings of financial distress. YNAB offers a strategy rooted in zero-based budgeting, and provides actionable advice on how to make this simple budgeting approach into a reality. YNAB is not technically a free budgeting app but you do have a 34-day trial period to decide if this is the right budget app for you.
- Zero-based Budgeting
- Goal Tracking
- Debt Management
- Syncing with Bank Accounts
- YNAB encourages responsible spending through the zero-based budgeting strategy, which designates a specific purpose (monthly bills, savings, recreational spending, etc.) for every dollar earned..
- The app breaks out your expenses into detailed budgeting categories so that you can differentiate between discretionary and necessary spending.
- YNAB supports your journey toward your financial goals with a host of helpful educational resources.
- The YNAB app demands a bit more independence and user initiative than some other popular budgeting apps, which means the learning curve may be steeper for those new to zero-based budgeting.
- While some apps automatically update transactions once synced to your bank account, YNAB may require you to manually enter information on some banking transactions. This may vary from bank to bank.
- YNAB does not include a bill payment feature, automatic or otherwise, which means it remains your responsibility to organize and keep track of these expenses. .
With PocketGuard, you can monitor all of your financial accounts and financial transactions in a single place. PocketGuard lets you link bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments on one user-friendly dashboard. Keep track of your balances, monitor your net worth, and schedule regular payments for recurring bills. In addition to providing a window into all of your assets and debts in one place, PocketGuard provides automatic fraud detection once linked to your bank accounts. In addition to keeping track of your money, PocketGuard ensures that this money is safe and secure.
- Real-time Expense Tracking
- Basic Budgeting Functions
- Bill reminders and Automatic Bill Payments
- Enhanced Fraud Detection and Security Features
- Debt Repayment Support
- PocketGuard provides simplified budgeting strategies, making its approach accessible for beginning users.
- You’ll get personalized spending insights based on your financial outlook, spending habits, net worth and savings goals.
- PocketGuard includes a bill negotiation feature. This feature allows you to upload your bills and to subsequently authorize PocketGuard with the power to negotiate lower payment rates with your debtors.
- While PocketGuard is great for monitoring your immediate budget outlook, it has limited functionality when it comes to investment tracking.
- You may experience the occasional syncing issues with some bank account and credit card apps.
- PocketGuard lacks some of the advanced features of its competitors such as retirement planning and portfolio support.
Wally describes itself as the first GPT powered budgeting app. So what does that mean? It means that it is actually powered by the same AI technology underlying the Chat GPT learning language model. So you can actually converse with Wally by Chat. WallyGPT can provide you with context on your personal finances, help you with financial planning, offer goal setting strategies, and provide basic education on finance and investing. On top of that, Wally is a free budgeting app that automatically tracks your spending, alerts you of upcoming bills, and provides basic budget and cash flow tracking.
- Expense tracking
- Bill Payment Reminders
- Foreign Currency Support
- The Chat GPT technology powering Wally gives it a smart and responsive quality that can truly engage users.
- Wally’s intuitive interface makes it easy for new users to quickly find what they’re looking for.
- The expense photo upload function simplified the process of incorporating your expenses into your Wally budget.
- Wally’s location-based expense tracking makes it easy to look back at transactions based on where you were in addition to when it happened.
- Wally may have greater limitations integrating with financial accounts from certain financial institutions than will more mainstream budgeting apps.
- These limitations can lead to occasional syncing issues with some of your bank accounts.
Formerly Personal Capital, Empower provides personalized financial advice and support specifically focused on saving and planning for retirement. Empower focuses on providing a platform for all your financial accounts and investment accounts. This entirely free budgeting app lets you link bank accounts and investment accounts, and receive personalized advice about both retirement and your portfolio. Empower is a particularly well-positioned app for those looking to better track and manage their advancement toward these retirement goals. Think of Empower as a virtual financial advisor.
- Personal Household Budgeting
- Investment Tracking
- Retirement Planning
- Net Worth Calculation
- Empower offers a comprehensive financial overview including a look at your net worth and what you’ll need to do in order to achieve your retirement goals.
- You’ll receive comprehensive portfolio analysis and actionable advice on how to match your portfolio to your real long-term goals.
- Empower provides a retirement calculator that you can use to determine the retirement income you’ll need to meet your goals based on your earnings, assets, and investments.
- Empower pays the greater part of its focus to investments and retirement planning. This makes it a great app for long term planning but it may be less ideal for everyday budgeting and expense monitoring.
Spendee is noteworthy for making cryptocurrency a central component of its value proposition. Spendee provides a single dashboard for monitoring your cash expenses, bank accounts, E-Wallets and crypto wallets. Spendee also offers tips and support for investing in cryptocurrencies and educational resources to help you better understand this investment frontier. On a more traditional front, Spendee also lets users develop “smart budgets” in order to pursue specific savings goals like buying a new car, moving into a larger home, sending their kid to a top university, or going on a lavish dream vacation.
- Expense Tracking
- Basic Budgeting Functions
- Bill Payment Reminders and Alerts
- Shared Wallets for Couples and Families
- Spendee’s intuitive design makes it easy for new users to sign on and start making moves right away.
- With custom budgeting categories, users can easily track spending in different areas and adjust accordingly.
- Spendee incorporates cryptocurrency into its ecosystem and even sells a few of its own piggy bank NFTs, providing one of the more comprehensive apps on the market when it comes to covering your full financial outlook.
- There may be some limits on which types of bank accounts and financial accounts will sync up with Spendee. Make sure your accounts are compatible with Spendee before committing to this particular app.
- While Spendee is generally a free budgeting app, some advanced features are locked behind a subscription and are therefore only available to premium members.
Clarity Money is powered by Marcus from Goldman Sachs and boasts a 100% free budgeting app with unique features including help canceling unwanted subscriptions, and the delivery of personalized insights based on your individual financial outlook. Track spending, get your credit score, and pursue savings goals while also gaining direct access to the full complement of financial products directly through Goldman Sachs including personal loans, investment accounts, and savings accounts.
- Expense Tracking
- Budgeting Functionality
- Subscription Tracking and Cancellation
- Clarity, true to its name, offers a very simple, clean and easy to use interface, ideal for newcomers to budgeting and expense tracking.
- Clarity leverages its relationship with Goldman Sachs to provide you with smart savings recommendations and other valuable educational resources.
- The subscription tracking and cancellation service is a great way to see where you might be spending needlessly, and to make immediate improvements to your monthly cash flow.
- Clarity comes with limited options for customization.
- The land page information provided about the app’s functionality is somewhat limited, meaning that prospective users must generally sign up to really get a sense of how Clarity works. Fortunately, Clarity’s tools and trackers are 100% free to use.
Acorns is a unique app that connects both saving and investment while helping you make the most of the small sums of money that usually fall between the cracks. This app lets you connect your credit cards and bank accounts so that you can invest in small bits and pieces as you spend. You can invest spare change after shopping transactions, invest while you bank, and earn bonus investments. Acorns gives you the freedom to choose the best investment strategy for your spare change and to make scheduled distributions to your investments. You can select your personal risk threshold then let Acorn’s experts determine the best way to invest your money in ETFs (exchange-traded funds).
- Automatic Savings
- Round-up Feature
- Retirement Planning
- Acorns provides a number of extremely easy investment options, allowing you to choose from several levels of risk exposure based on your available funds and investment goals.
- With the Acorns automatic savings feature, you can set up regularly scheduled transfers of just a few dollars a month, offering a financially accessible way to begin building your portfolio.
- Acorns is designed to be extremely beginner friendly, both in terms of the modest cost to get started and the friendly, informative onboarding process.
- Acorns charges users a monthly fee for investment account management.
- The counterpoint to the user-friendly nature of Acorns is that it provides users with somewhat limited ability to control specific investments. Acorns is far better for general fund investments, which will typically be chosen by advisors at Acorn based on your self selected risk profile. In other words, if you’re looking for an investment strategy tailored to your exact specifications, you’ll want to find another app for that function, but Acorns is great if you’re just learning the ropes of the stock market.
The Honeydue app is designed around a simple premise–the subject that married couples tend to fight most about is money. Honeydue is a budgeting app designed to help couples get on the same page. The Honeydue app can sync up with accounts from over 20,000 financial institutions across 5 countries, provides bill payment reminders, and even create direct paths of communication for partners regarding financial transactions. Leave messages for one another about important bills, and other budgeting or spending logistics. The app also helps couples move from separate accounts to a joint bank account directly on the Honeydue platform, with backing by Sutton Bank.
- Expense Tracking
- Bill Reminders
- Shared Accounts
- Honeydue is truly designed for couples which means a lot of its features, informational resources and product offerings are tailored to the needs of married couples working on balancing joint finances.
- Users get access to convenient expense tracking and bill management all in a single place.
- Honeydue can provide real-time notifications for bills, overdrafts and more so that you can stay on track with your finances at all times.
- There are limitations to just how much you can customize your account based on your specific financial outlook.
- Like many other apps listed here, Honeydue may have syncing issues with some bank accounts or billing entities. Check for compatibility with your major accounts first.
Albert is a banking app with a philosophical mission. Albert’s mission is “to help every American reach financial stability. Our financial geniuses are redefining how people feel about money — helping millions forge happier, healthier relationships with their finances. And our products are built from the ground up to help anyone, at any level, succeed.”
The Albert app offers actual and direct financial support to those living on tighter budgetary constraints. Among its most notable features to this end, Albert offers $250 paycheck advances to account holders. Albert users also enjoy access to accounts without minimum account balance requirements or overdraft fees. These features are designed to make budgeting and saving more accessible to the non-wealthy. For this reason, Albert also includes a variety of valuable education resources aimed at improving the financial literacy of account holders.
- Budgeting Functions
- Recommendations for Reaching Savings Goals
- Personalized Investment Advice
- Cash Advance on Paychecks
- Albert is designed for users who require a bit more financial forgiveness on their way to improving their financial standing, which means it includes highly personalized advice on important subjects like budgeting and investments.
- Users can also create a personalized spending plan using Albert’s savings goals tracking function.
- In addition to a $250 cash advance on paychecks, Albert protects users from various common penalties including overdraft fees and minimum balance requirements.
- Albert is available only to users in the U.S. which limits its long term value for those who might live abroad in the future.
- While many functions are free, Albert does require a monthly subscription fee for access to some of its more advanced features.
Quicken is a leading accounting and finance software company that generally offers highly sophisticated applications. But the free version of this budgeting app is only available for a 30 day trial. Then again, at just $2.39 per month, the subscription for this app is kind of worth it. Simplifi lets you create and maintain savings strategies, create a budget based on a personalized spending plan, and track and manage your bills in a single convenient location.
- Expense Tracking
- Basic and Advanced Budgeting Features
- Bill Payment Reminders
- Debt Reduction Planning
- Simplifi excels at presenting users with a comprehensive panorama of their financial outlook based on user inputs.
- Users can take advantage of automated categorization to identify, compartmentalize and more effectively manage different areas of spending.
- Simplifi encourages users to eliminate debt and includes a variety of debt payoff tools, as well as access to personalized debt management offers.
- While Simplifi can help users improve budget management, reduce debt, and advance savings goals, it does not provide comprehensive investment tracking. If you’re looking for a budgeting app that provides comprehensive integration of all your financial accounts, this may not be the best budgeting app for your needs.
12. Toshl Finance
Toshl uses a unique set of graphic elements to help you better understand your spending. For those who learn visually, Toshl may be a great option. Toshl represents your spending and earnings as “financial flows.” Seeing the way these flows move can give you a stronger sense of your financial outlook both monthly and in the long term. Toshl allows you to connect your financial accounts and quick-enter your expenses, and offers insights into how your money is currently spent as well as how you can find novel ways to save.
- Expense Tracking
- Budgeting Integration with Financial Accounts
- Compatibility with Multiple International Currencies
- Bill Payment Reminders
- Toshl connects to most of your financial accounts, and makes it possible to view your financial outlook at a glance. Indeed, the visual elements that drive Toshl make it a particularly good option for those who are looking for a new perspective on their finances.
- With manual expense inputs, you can create a budget on your own terms. This makes Toshl one of the more flexible budgeting apps.
- Before you worry about the tedium of inputting expenses manually, you’ll be happy to know that Toshl actually has a function for entry of expenses via voice commands.
- While a number of Toshl’s key features are readily available for free, some more advanced features will require you to pay a monthly subscription,
- Users report occasional syncing issues when attempting to connect the app to bank accounts or other financial accounts.
While the apps outlined here can help a lot, even the best budget app is no replacement for a strong grasp on the basic principles of finance. That’s why we’d also advise jumping from here directly to our look at ten valuable financial literacy tips that everybody should know.