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Compare budgeting apps

Easily keep track of your personal and professional finances with this software guide.

Compare budgeting apps

Compare popular budgeting apps based on their fees and supported platforms.

Name Product Fee Service fee Platforms
Bright
$6.99 monthly if you sign up for an annual plan, $8.99 monthly for a 6-month plan
Secure a Brighter financial future
Digit
Digit savings is a microsavings app that helps you avoid overdrafts and passively set aside cash for short-term goals.
Trim
$0
33%
PC,Mac
Trim analyzes spending and offers personalized advice to help you reach your goals.
Tiller Money
PC,Mac
Use Tiller Money to automate your budgeting spreadsheets and pay off debt.
Emma
$0
iOS,Android
Emma allows you to check up on your spending habits and track your cryptocurrency balances alongside your conventional bank accounts.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Advantages and disadvantages of budgeting

Here are all the reasons you may want to start a budget and things to watch out for:

Pros

  • 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.

8 best budgeting apps

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.

Best for zero-based budgeting apps

YNAB

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.

Best for manual budgeting

Goodbudget

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.

Best for envelope budgeting

Mvelopes

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.

Best for couples

Honeyfi

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.

Best for paying off debt

Charlie

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.

Best for families

HomeBudget with Sync

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.

Best for college students and young adults

PocketGuard

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.

Best for freelancers

Simplifi

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.

3 alternatives to budgeting apps

While most of the aforementioned apps are solely focused on budgeting, several alternatives combine banking and budgeting in a single system.

Qube Money

Finder rating 3.4 / 5 ★★★★★

This envelope budgeting-based banking app is focused on families and deducts funds from your account in real time. And unlike other cards, it has a default balance of $0. So you can only use the card for purchases after you activate a “Qube” payment in the app first.

Marcus Insights

Finder rating 3.9 / 5 ★★★★★

Marcus Insights, formerly known as Clarity Money, doesn't have budgeting features but the app does give you a birds eye view of your entire financial picture, including loans, investments and retirement accounts. Plus, it's completely free to use, even if you don't bank with Marcus. But the Android app lacks features compared to the iOS version.

Honeydue Joint Banking

This banking app for couples lets you tackle your money as a team. It includes a spending account with a prepaid debit card and no fees or minimum balance requirements. And its budgeting tools give you and your partner the power to include or exclude certain accounts. But its not available on desktops and doesn't support mobile deposits.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Reverse budgeting. Set aside a chunk of each paycheck for saving first, then use the rest however you want.
  6. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 are Quickbooks Online and Xero.

Bottom line

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.

Read more on this topic

  • Simplifi by Quicken review

    A budgeting app with responsive customer service and lets you import transactions in CSV format, but it comes with a monthly fee.

  • Bright Money review

    An budgeting app that can help reduce credit card balances faster.

  • HomeBudget with Sync review

    A manual budgeting app that lets you bring in the whole family.

  • PocketGuard review

    A budgeting app that tracks your spending and upcoming bills but logging cash transactions will cost you extra.

  • Honeyfi review

    Honeyfi lets you and your partner track your shared accounts and expenses — for a monthly fee.

  • Astra review

    Fast track your savings goals with this automation and budgeting app.

  • Tiller Money review

    Do you use a spreadsheet to manage your budget? Automate it with Tiller Money.

  • What is zero-based budgeting?

    Dave Ramsey swears by this budgeting method, but can it really help you avoid overspending?

  • How to get cheaper rent

    Use these tips to lower your current rent — or save up for a new place if your landlord won’t budge.

  • Mvelopes review

    Modernizes the envelope budgeting method by creating a way to automatically track and manage finances.

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