The best budgeting apps make it easy to maintain a bird’s-eye view of your finances so that you can stay on target with your spending and savings. They also allow you to track your transactions automatically or manually and help you live within your means so you don’t end up burdened by debt. We’ve reviewed more than 30 budgeting apps for Android and iOS, and we determined that these are the 8 best tools based on their fees, features and customer reviews.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is best for zero-based budgeting because the app prompts you to assign a purpose for every dollar in your account. YNAB also has a polished interface and includes many features you won’t find with other budgeting apps. It also works across more operating systems than any other budgeting app we've come across. The biggest drawback is that it’s a bit on the expensive side.
Full-featured budgeting. YNAB syncs with most bank accounts and credit cards and provides real-time updates and progress reports based on your spending.
Supported platforms. In addition to its web interface, YNAB apps work on Android devices, iPhones, iPads, the Apple Watch, and Amazon Echo devices.
Live chat. If you have questions or need help with your account, you can chat with a YNAB specialist via the companys website.
Expensive subscription. You get a 34-day trial, and then the service costs $11.99 per month or $84 per year. This is more expensive than most other budgeting apps.
No bill reminders. Some budgeting apps will remind you when upcoming bills are due, but YNAB doesnt.
Steep learning curve. YNAB includes a ton of features and options, but it can take a while to familiarize yourself with how everything works.
Goodbudget is best for manual budgeting because it allows you to track all of your expenses and balances by entering them individually, rather than syncing your bank and credit card accounts. Some people might view this as a drawback, but for individuals who are skeptical about sharing their bank credentials with a third party, Goodbudget is a good alternativel. It works on both Android and iOS devices and has a free tier you can use forever.
Doesnt need your logins. Most popular budgeting apps require your bank login to set up a budget, but Goodbudget lets you enter your transactions manually.
Free forever. Goodbudgets free tier lets you create 20 envelopes, sync two devices and track your history for the past year.
Syncs across devices. If you use a combination of Apple and Android devices, Goodbudget can sync your data in real-time.
No bank syncing. This app is built around manual budgeting, so theres no way to import your day-to-day expenses automatically.
Doesnt account for investments. You can track bank accounts and credit cards with this app, but theres no way to incorporate investment accounts.
Mvelopes is the best envelope budgeting app because it’s easy to use and offers excellent support options. Although theres no free plan, Mvelopes offers some personalized services you won’t find with any other budgeting app. It works on iOS and Android devices, and if you dont need a lot of hand-holding, the entry-level plan could meet all of your needs.
Personalized features. The top-tier plan includes a dedicated personal coach, a personalized financial plan and quarterly coaching sessions.
Live chat support. All Mvelope plans include access to live chat support via the app and website.
No free tier. You can take advantage of a 30 day free trial, but you will have to upgrade to a paid plan when its over.
Not compatible with all banks. Mvelopes works with many popular banks in the US, but some smaller banks and credit unions arent supported.
Honeyfi is the best budgeting app for couples because it was specifically designed with couples in mind. The app lets you and your partner link all of your accounts so you can monitor your activity and stay within your monthly budget. It also includes a savings account that earns a decent interest rate. The app is available for both Android and iOS, and it has overwhelmingly positive reviews on both platforms.
Built for couples. Honeyfi was designed to help couples coordinate their finances and save for the future.
Free trial. You and your partner can use the Honeyfi app for a full month to determine whether it works in your relationship.
Integrated savings. Honeyfi includes an FDIC insured savings account that earns 0.5% APY, thats more than most savings accounts offer.
No free tier. You and your partner can test-drive the Honeyfi app for a month, but if you want to continue using it, you will need to upgrade.
Limited support. The team behind Honeyfi isnt as large as the team behind other apps on this list, so you can only contact support via email.
Charlie is the best budgeting app for paying off debt because the company’s mission is to help users escape the burden of debt. It uses artificial intelligence to track your finances and the app motivates you to pay what you owe as quickly as possible. It also makes savings recommendations based on your spending habits and the service can negotiate bills on your behalf. It works on both Android phones and iPhones.
Designed for debtors. Every aspect of this app was designed to help you pay what you owe and finally live debt-free.
Free trial. You can test out this app for 30 days to see if it works for you.
Bill negotiations. Charlie subscribers get access to a debt negotiation service that can lower your bills without requiring any extra effort on your part.
Salesy notifications. The app will alert you when your balance gets low or when it spots an opportunity to save you money, but it may occasionally display ads that encourage you to subscribe to third-party services.
Cant share access. The Charlie app is meant for individuals, so you cant share access with a partner or family member.
Limited support. Charlie doesnt provide phone or live chat support.
HomeBudget with Sync is the best budgeting app for families because it was developed for households and it works on a variety of platforms. It lets family members share details about their income and expenses, and it allows you all to work within the same budget. Unlike other apps on this list, there’s no ongoing subscription fee, but you may have to purchase the app multiple times if you use it on different platforms.
Designed for households. HomeBudget with Sync lets families and roommates exchange expense and income information and work together using a single budget.
No subscription fee. Unlike nearly all of the other apps on this list, HomeBudget with Sync doesnt require an ongoing subscription fee.
Works on Windows. This app works on Windows in addition to Apple and Android devices.
Might have to buy the app multiple times. If you want to use this app on different operating systems, you will need to purchase each version of the app separately.
Infrequent updates. The Android app hasnt been updated since December 2018, and the iOS app hasnt been updated since January 2020.
PocketGuard is the best budgeting app for college students and young adults. The app can integrate with your bank accounts and credit card to help you monitor your money habits. There’s a free version, or you can upgrade to PocketGuard Plus, which is far more affordable than apps such as YNAB. PocketGuard is also optimized to reduce expenses and prevent overspending, which is common among young adults. The app works on Android and iOS and includes an integrated savings account to help you reach your goals. But it doesn’t earn any interest.
Free version. You can use the free PocketGuard app indefinitely or upgrade to PocketGuard Plus for more features.
Everyday spending algorithm. PocketGuard accounts for your monthly income and fixed expenses to calculate how much money you have available for daily spending.
Enhanced security. PocketGuard offers more robust protection than most budgeting apps. It includes bank-level encryption and requires a PIN code or fingerprint/facial scan to open the app.
Savings dont earn interest. This app includes a savings account, but it doesnt earn interest.
Limited support. You can only contact a support specialist by emailing email@example.com.
Doesnt account for investments. PocketGuard doesnt sync up with investment accounts, so you might not be able to monitor every aspect of your finances.
Simplifi by Quicken is the best budgeting app for freelancers because it makes it easy to exclude reimbursable employment expenses from your overall budget. By accounting for your predictable income, bills and goals, Simplifi can provide you with an estimate of how much money you can safely spend. The app also includes aspects of zero-balance budgeting mixed with features of transaction-tracking apps. The app is available for Android and iOS devices, and there’s a web interface as well.
Personalized spending plan. Simplifi will analyze your incoming, recurring expenses and savings goals to develop a customized spending plan thats specific to you.
Easily exclude expenses. If your work requires you to pay for many reimbursable purchases out of your own pocket, you can easily exclude these expenses from your overall budget.
Spending watchlist. If you tend to overspend in certain categories, Simplifi by Quicken will bring this to your attention so you can curb your spending.
Not as polished as other apps. Simplifi by Quicken launched in 2020, so it hasnt been around as long as many of the other apps on this list. As such, its interface isnt especially impressive.
Not as robust as business budgeting tools. If your business is growing beyond the scope of a typical independent contractor, this app might not meet your needs.
5 things to consider when looking for a budgeting app
Whether you’re running a business, digging yourself out of debt or simply trying to get your personal finances in order, budgeting apps can make the process smoother and quicker. Here are five tips to consider when choosing the best budgeting app for you.
Free trials. Look for apps that offer a free tier or at least a free trial so you can test the app before you commit to a paid subscription.
Manual vs automatic input. Most budgeting apps sync with your bank accounts and credit cards to automatically import transactions, but some companies reserve this feature for paying subscribers.
Multi-platform. The best budgeting apps are compatible with Android and iOS, but some are only available on one of the major mobile platforms. If you use more than one operating system on a daily basis, look for apps that offer cross-platform compatibility.
Budgeting methods. You’ll be more inclined to stick to a budget if you choose an app and budgeting method that works with your financial goals and lifestyle. Some apps adhere to the zero-based budgeting approach, while others align with the envelope system. Choose an app that matches the method you’re more likely to stick with.
Cost. Some budgeting apps are completely free, but most require a monthly or annual subscription. Depending on the cost, your subscription could make a dent in the amount of money you’re saving by budgeting. To be on the safe side, choose an affordable app that won’t interfere with your overall budgeting objectives.
How can a budgeting app help?
A budgeting app allows you to quickly and accurately perform financial tasks such as bookkeeping, forecasting and financial analysis. Instead of having to do it manually on pen and paper, most budgeting apps connect to your financial accounts for you and crunches all the numbers in record time. It’ll also automatically update as you use your accounts.
What is budgeting?
Budgeting is the act of tracking what income is coming in and what money is going out each month. By tracking your savings and spending expenses, you can get an understanding of the way you spend, the way you save and then identify ways to improve your finances. A budget can help, no matter what your goals are.
One of the main purposes of budget planning is to know where your money is going each week.
When you’re able to account for your spending, you can learn how to better manage your bills and living expenses. It’s also much easier to pay off debt and avoid accumulating it in the first place. There are several different types of budgeting methods. Choosing the one that’s right for you will help you stick to it.
How many budgeting methods are there?
Most people end up following one of these six popular budgeting methods.
Zero-based budgeting. With this method, you take your income and divide it up between all your expenses, debts and savings goals until every dollar has a purpose.
50/30/20. This is a quick, simplified budgeting method where you take your income and set aside 50% for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for debts and savings.
Envelope system. Divide your money up among different physical or electronic envelopes based on your budgeting categories. Once you run out of money in one envelope, you’re finished until you get paid again.
Line item budgeting. This is a traditional budgeting method where you list your expenses in a spreadsheet, estimate how much you’ll spend in each category, then review your progress at the end of the month.
Reverse budgeting. Set aside a chunk of each paycheck for saving first, then use the rest however you want.
Kakeibo budgeting. Uses a Japanese technique where you save first, then split remaining funds between Survival expenses, Optional expenses, Cultural expenses and Extra expenses.
Why is budgeting important?
There are plenty of reasons why budgeting is important, but here are the top three main ones:
Spending awareness. If you don’t have a budget, you may be surprised by how much you spend on a daily basis. Things like a bottle of wine or new clothes add up. A budget shows you exactly how much you’re spending and what you’re buying.
Improves financial control. People who budget regularly don’t count down the hours until payday. They’ve forecast their expenses and managed their money so they have peace of mind.
Makes saving easier. Budgeting makes it easier to identify ways to save because you always know how much you’re spending. It also makes it easy to track progress toward your savings goals.
Is there a difference between personal and business budgeting?
Personal and business or corporate budgeting share the same basic principles. An effective budget will track your income and expenses and project what your finances will look like in the future.
Personal budgeting apps will help you establish a better spending plan and put money aside for big purchases such as a home, car or wedding, or allocate more money toward fun activities like going to the movies or buying that surfboard you’ve been eyeballing. One popular budgeting option for individuals and families is YNAB.
Business budgeting apps perform the same basic functions as personal apps while also taking into account the complexities of running a business. Business budgeting apps will consider fixed and variable costs, revenue, payroll and debt, and forecast company growth. Two popular budgeting options for businesses is Quickbooks Online and Xero.
Advantages and disadvantages of budgeting
Here are all the reasons you may want to start a budget and things to watch out for:
Helps identify poor spending habits. You can’t change your bad money habits if you aren’t even aware of them. A budget shines a light on the darkest part of your spending and helps you create a plan to fix it.
Empowers you to reach your goals. It’s possible to reach your savings goals without a budget, but you’ll get there a lot quicker if you have a budget — or roadmap — to follow.
Lowers financial worry. When you have a budget, you don’t have to stress every waking moment about whether you’ll have enough money to pay a bill or save for a goal. Your budget will tell you that.
What to watch out for
Overwhelming at first. Looking at your expenses for the first time may be stressful, overwhelming or even embarrassing. But remember, knowledge is power.
Takes time. You may not see amazing financial results the first month you budget. It usually takes months of evaluating and adjusting to feel like you’re making progress toward your savings goals and lowering your debt.
Involves trade-offs. You only have so much money each month. Inevitably, you’ll have to make tough choices about how you should spend that money.
Budgeting apps can help you escape debt, operate a profitable business or simply live within your means. With the right tool, you can forecast your financial future and finally achieve your financial goals.
Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and kids’ debit cards. She’s been featured on Legal Zoom, MSN, and Consolidated Credit and has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. When not writing, you can find her exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.
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