Let’s not sugarcoat it—it’s hard to keep track of your finances. With bills to deal with, debts to pay, and receipts to track, keeping your financial health in the best condition possible isn’t always the easiest task.
If you know the best budgeting tools to use, that task becomes much easier. You don’t have to be a math genius, you just need to find the best budget app for your finances. Here’s a short list to help you decide.
1. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
YNAB (You Need a Budget) isn’t just a budget app; it’s a change in mindset. The app has developed a strong following thanks to its innovative method to budgeting your finances. Really, it’s better described as a money management app, because YNAB makes you look at how you actually organize your money.
In the YNAB way, every dollar you spend has a purpose, and every dollar you earn gets allocated. Bills, trips out, the rainy day fund—they all get allocated to different “envelopes” which you draw money from for spending. Rather than living paycheck to paycheck, YNAB helps you build buffers so you’re less reliant on your payday, helping you steadily build your finances up instead.
If you’re looking to pay down your debts, YNAB helps you by tracking your debt repayments and helping you question your current spending. The app encourages you to only spend what you have. This should stop you from spending beyond your means and reduce the need for credit cards and loans.
YNAB has mobile apps, but it’s also got a modern web interface if you want to work out your finances on your PC. It syncs with your checking, saving, and credit accounts (if you’re based in the U.S. or Canada), so you don’t have to worry about tracking or adding your transactions manually. Thanks to the envelope method YNAB uses, saving money becomes second nature.
It’s not free, and a subscription will set you back $7 per month. You do get a 34-day free trial to get to grips with the method and the philosophy. If you’re a student, you can claim a 12-month subscription at no cost.
Mint is the pinnacle of financial management apps. It’s developed by Intuit, the same company that runs Quickbooks, one of the best accounting tools for freelancers. That financial pedigree shows with a set of features that eclipses other contenders on this list.
You aren’t expected to follow every transaction you make or spend hours working out your budget. Mint deals with this for you by syncing with your bank accounts and categorizing your spending. You can see how much you spend for each category, and Mint will automatically budget your money around what your average spending is. If it’s too much, or you want to reduce your spending, you can adjust this, but the app is designed to be simple and automatic.
Mint’s ultimate mission is to make budgeting easy. You’re able to set up notifications for future bills or for alerts when you’re close to spending more than your budget. You can set regular savings goals, and will see tailored deals for financial products like loans, credit cards, and investments.
Thanks to Mint’s partnership with Experian, you’re able to check out your credit score to see what your current financial health is like. This will help you when you’re looking to improve your credit score in the long run. Mint is totally free, with no added costs of any kind.
Goodbudget is a little like YNAB. It shares its philosophy for saving using the envelope method to know exactly where and how you’re spending your money. While YNAB is for individuals, Goodbudget allows you to share a budget across an entire household. Couples, or those who share a house with others, can combine their finances.
This two-or-more approach makes Goodbudget the right budget tracker for couples. The app isn’t difficult to use—you share your joint income across envelopes created for your various spending priorities. When you spend money, you draw it from those envelopes.
Like YNAB, every dollar gets a purpose, so all your money is accounted for, but it does require upkeep. You can manually add transactions, or import them manually using files provided by your bank. There’s unfortunately no bank syncing with Goodbudget.
Goodbudget is free for basic use, if you only have a limited number of accounts or spending priorities. If you’ve got a big budget, you’ll need to upgrade to a monthly subscription at $6 a month.
4. Every Dollar
Budgeting isn’t just for people who struggle with money. If you want to build wealth, you need to track your money. That’s where Dave Ramsey’s approach to building wealth comes in. You start with an emergency fund and paying off your debts. Then you start to invest in your retirement and your children’s future. If that approach appeals to you, Every Dollar is the app for you, as it’s from the man himself.
Every Dollar keeps budgeting simple, as all you need to do is add your monthly income and planned expenses. You’ll then get an overview that helps you see where your current financial strengths (and weaknesses) are. If you subscribe to Every Dollar Plus, you can sync your transactions to the app automatically and view your account balances. You can even sign up for budget coaching sessions to help you organize your finances.
This app doesn’t try to be a Mint or YNAB killer. It’s a dashboard budgeting app that can help you track your money with nothing fancy or complicated. Every Dollar wants you to build your wealth without effort. Whether that means reducing your debts or saving money, Goodbudget will help you to do both, making it one of the simplest budget apps to use.
Subscriptions to Every Dollar cost $10 a month. You’re also able to sync your budget across five devices, make it better for bigger households.
The Best Budget App for Your Finances
Each of the apps listed here approaches your finances differently. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but the best budget app to keep your finances healthy has to be Mint.
It’s the perfect budget tracker for people who aren’t looking to obsess about their money constantly. It keeps an eye on your transactions, categorizes your spending, and lets you set up alerts to keep your spending under control. It’s also got a credit scoring system so you can see what your financial situation is like as a whole.
Mint offers budgeting without the hassle or the upkeep. Once your spending is under control, you can start to look at some of the best investment apps for beginners to invest your spare cents instead.