The best budgeting software can make managing your money easy and dare I say enjoyable. Here are our top picks for budgeting apps.
When you’re constantly on the go, getting a handle on your finances can be tough. You may not have time to sit in front of your desktop or laptop, or to deal with a paper spreadsheet. That’s where budgeting apps come into play.
These apps help you keep track of your spending and your goals on the go. Many also offer a more robust online option you can use on a laptop or desktop.
Below are our top seven choices if you’re looking for a money management app. First, however, we are going to cover our current favorite. Think of it as a bonus option.
Track and analyze your spending, debt, and even investments for free: The tool the editorial team here at Consumerism Commentary uses to manage our money is Personal Capital. This totally free financial dashboard can manage every aspect of your finances. Once you link your bank account, credit cards, and investment accounts, Personal Capital evaluates your accounts and gives you a wealth of information right at your fingertips.
Track your budget, manage your cash flow, and even evaluate your 401k, IRA and other investments. Personal Capital also comes with a mobile app for smartphones and the Apple Watch.
When it comes to budgeting apps and sites, Mint consistently makes the top of my list. It’s easy to use and securely syncs with your bank accounts and credit cards. This means you don’t have to manually enter your transactions unless you make them in cash. It’s super handy for keeping track of your finances without spending hours each week doing it.
Mint has a nice visual interface that lets you categorize your spending, see when you’re about to overspend in a budget category, and even check out historical spending trends. It’s also helpful for tracking your net worth and investments.
What’s not so great about Mint? It’s not a robust option for investment tracking. For tracking investments, we recommend Personal Capital. And while you can set financial goals, sometimes they conflict with your budget categories in annoying ways. But it’s generally one of my favorite money management tools around. Plus, it’s free!
If you like to plan ahead, YNAB is a better budgeting option than Mint. It operates on the principle that you should live on last month’s income. Basically, it helps you save up a month’s worth of income. Then each month, you draw from the last month’s income for your spending. It’s a powerful way to stop living paycheck to paycheck.
YNAB isn’t as robust as Mint in some areas. For instance, it’s not as sleek visually. But it does tell you where you stand with your finances, help you set goals, and get you on track with your spending.
The YNAB app interface isn’t as pretty as Mint’s. But if you want to follow this financial philosophy and have the ability to set budgets several months into the future, it’s a good option. YNAB does cost $5 per month, but it’s worth it if this is the best budgeting option for your needs.
This very simple looking app is an envelope budgeting system gone digital. The app syncs your budgets between yourself and your spouse, or anyone else you want to add. This makes it helpful for maintaining the family budget.
GoodBudget lets you track financial goals, such as saving up for a down payment on a home. It helps you easily track your progress as you move towards these goals. With this budgeting system, when you overspend from one “envelope,” you’ll need to move money over from another category to cover the spending.
GoodBudget comes with two different tiered options. The free option gives you 10 regular and 10 “more” envelopes, one account, access through two devices, and a year of spending history. The upgraded version has unlimited envelopes, unlimited accounts, syncs across five devices, and gives you five years of spending history.
This is a great app if your primary issue is with managing cash flow. Maybe you know that over the course of the month, you’ve got plenty of money to cover your expenses. But perhaps you struggle with knowing when those expenses are coming out.
Dollarbird gives you a calendar view of when your expenses are due. You can color code transactions for an at-a-glance view of what types of items are due. Once you put in all your recurring spending and bills, Dollarbird will give you a projected balance. That way, you’ll know how much you can safely spend at any given time.
This app is an interesting take in the world of personal finance apps. Instead of just giving you a screen where you can check out your progress, this app acts as a coach. Its interface looks like a texting app. Penny actually digs into your financial statements, and then she helps you make good choices.
You can ask Penny to do certain types of financial analysis for you. For instance, she can tell you where you might need to save more money. Or you can have her compare your spending from month to month. This app is also pretty smart about organizing your transactions. In all, it’s an excellent option if you want a more personalized touch for your financial management.
Looking for a budgeting app that works in a currency besides the U.S. dollar? Wally might be for you. It works in a huge variety of currencies. And it lets you save photos of receipts, so it’s helpful for tracking spending for business purposes, as well.
Wally helps you see how much you have left in your budget at any given point in the month. It has a slick user interface that includes several graph options, as well, including graphs to track your financial goals and savings. In all, it’s similar to the other apps we’ve covered here, but it’s another option worth checking out.
Of the options we’ve covered here, Spendee may have the best user interface. It just looks nice and helps you figure out your finances graphically. It’s a great option if you’re a visual thinker and need a good grasp of your overall finances.
One unique piece of Spendee is that you can share “wallets” with family members or friends. So you can connect only certain pieces of your budget to others. This is helpful if you’re splitting expenses with roommates, for instance. Or if you want someone to hold you accountable for a certain part of your spending, this is a great option to use.
Clearly, there are more than seven good budgeting apps on the market. We’ve featured our top reliable favorites, along with some newer or lesser-known apps with unique features. You can also check out our list of the best budgeting tools for those who aren’t always on the go.
Have you used one of these apps to manage your money? Tell us about it in the comments.
Updated October 8, 2017 and originally published September 20, 2017.