Budgeting has always been a tricky skill for many people. While we all hope to save as much money as possible, it can also be tedious to manually record down every expenditure, which can lead to sloppy tracking and poor budgeting. Luckily, there are now several budgeting apps to make the process as hassle free as it could possibly get. In fact, the market is saturated with options for you to choose from. To make things a little easier for you, here we have collated our picks for the best apps to manage your money, each with its own purpose. You are sure to find one app that best suits your management style.
1. Mint (Budgeting and credit monitoring)
Mint has long been a popular budgeting website and app, and not without reason. Similar to Personal Capital, Mint offers access to your investment accounts in addition to budgeting tools. But for Mint, the budgeting portion is the stronger offering, while the investing section leaves more to be desired for the moment. Mint is a great option if you want to keep a super detailed budget. You can create as many budget categories as you want, and you can categorize transactions on the go. The app also automatically pulls transactions in from your bank accounts and credit cards, so they’re all in one place, and analyzes your spending to provide insights into your habits, to show you where there is room for improvement.
Mint has become so popular, because unlike some of its competitors, it's completely free. It has also excelled in making your budgets highly customisable, from budget categories, goal setting, and syncing your investments, Mint leaves it entirely up to you. However, as we have mentioned, Mint has a ways to go in developing its investment side. While snapshots are certainly helpful, it would be nice to be able to see asset allocation, or to simply have things work a little smoother. Hopefully Mint is able to sort out its minor bug problems to further advance its user-friendly experience.
2. YNAB - You Need A Budget (Zero-based budgeting)
YNAB’s budgeting style is different from other budgeting apps. Their goal is, essentially, to work your budget so you live off last month’s money. The point of this is to smooth out any financial kinks you may have in your budget, especially if your income varies each month. Essentially, living off last month’s funds acts like a built-in emergency fund stored within your balance. The app encourages you to plan your spending down to the dollar, and think ahead towards building your future.
What's great about YNAB? Firstly, you can sink the app directly with your bank account, meaning you don't have to worry about manually recording your expenses. Apart from being very user-friendly, you can also sync the app on multiple devices to keep track of your spending on the go.
However, YNAB doesn't offer an investment tracking feature, so if you’re someone who's into investing, this may not be the best choice for you. Furthermore, YNAB’s pricing can be considered relatively steep compared to its competitors, considering there are plenty of apps you can use for free. Users will need to pay $11.99/month or $84/year, but they do pledge to help you save at least $600 within the first month.
3. Personal Capital (Tracking wealth and spending)
Speaking of investment tracking, Personal Capital is great for this very purpose. It comes in two versions - the Free Financial Dashboard and the Wealth Management service. The free version is primarily a budgeting application, but it provides abundant tools for investing. The wealth management version is a full investment management service, including live support from financial advisors.
Its main advantage is the fact that your investments are considered in the equation, giving you a holistic view of your total financial picture. If you’re not looking for financial advice, the app is entirely free as well, making it a popular choice for nearly 2 million people and rising. However, it is important to note that their minimum investment required for the investment service is pretty high at $100,000, which eliminates small-medium size investors. The budgeting capabilities are also more limited compared to Mint and YNAB.
4. PocketGuard (Simplified budgeting snapshot)
Are you typically an overspender? If you need something to guard your cash and free up savings in your regular spending, Pocket Guard would do the trick. By letting you sync up all your accounts, it helps you track and analyse your spending, to help you build a more efficient budget that's friendlier on your wallet. Apart from tracking monthly patterns, PocketGuard even helps you look for better deals to help you save for the long haul.
Pocket Guard is great for literally guarding your money, so you never get caught overspending again. It's ‘In My Pocket’ feature uses an algorithm to essentially commit funds to your necessary expenses and savings, then gives you free access to what’s left over. It also helps you find savings to stretch your budget farther than you otherwise could have alone. By allowing you to set spending limits, the app forces you to make more conscious spending decisions about where you put your money, and alerts you when you are reaching your limit. However, with these customisations, expect to receive ad and email solicitations.
5. Zeta (Joint budgeting with your partner)
Zeta is one of the few free budgeting apps designed specifically for couples, and it gives you the option of joint finances or not. It also allows you to customise your budget, thereby catering to all types of couples, including those who are living together, engaged, married, or new parents. You can sync various accounts to track spending, see your net worth, and manage bills together.
The Zeta Money Manager app allows you to sync accounts or manually add data for a shared view of your finances. The app can create budgets, track spending, set up joint goals, and manage bills. The main advantage of Zeta would be its sharing controls, shared and personal budgets, and bill reminders, amongst other things. What's more, Zeta’s Money Date Mag, an online publication covering love and money in the modern age, includes articles to further enhance your financial knowledge to help you make the best decisions with your money.
Understanding your cash flow is a major part of successfully managing your finances. How much is coming in, when it hits your bank account, and where it’s going are all important aspects of financial success. It's time to take control of your spending habits, and with these apps, now you absolutely can!