The Best Budget Apps
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Budgeting is not easy. Setting financial goals, keeping tabs on your spending, setting aside savings: most people aren't naturally good at tracking all of this. Budgeting is a very important skill, but saying "I'm going to create a budget" is much different from actually going out and creating a budget.
Thankfully, there are a ton of mobile apps and programs that help make budgeting much easier and more manageable. From comprehensive management apps to simple programs to help track spending or find savings, budgeting is not something you need to do alone. Here are a few of our favorite budgeting and money-saving apps.
The Best Budgeting Apps
If you’ve used a budget app, Mint is a great place to start, especially for monthly budgeting. It links to your bank accounts and automatically categorizes and updates your transactions, making it easy to get a sense of your spending. It also suggests budgets based on your spending, perfect for those who don’t know what kind of budget they need. The app also includes a credit monitoring service—all for Free.
PocketGuard takes simplicity to the extreme and boils down your budget into one simple metric: how much you have available to spend. Connect your checking, savings and credit accounts, and PocketGuard automatically detects bills and regular income. Using that data, it tells you how much money you can spend. You can set custom expensive categories and limits, too. Like Mint, PocketGuard is Free.
For something a little more involved, check out You Need A Budget. YNAB is based on the zero-based budgeting system. Essentially, this system requires that your income minus your expenses comes out to zero at the end of every month. This requires some serious commitment: you’ve got to meticulously track all of your spending and plan your monthly expenses in advance. YNAB is loaded with features to help with this. You can set goals, connect bank accounts, customize spending categories and even attend workshops.
YNAB does come with a price: either $11.99 a month or $84.99 a year.
The Best Money Saving Apps
Acorns is a very simple way to save money with no effort. Every time you swipe a credit card, it’ll keep the change and send it to your personal investment portfolio. So if you spend $7.50, it’ll round that up to $8 and send the change to your account. You’ll create a savings account without even thinking about it.
Digit works on the theory that saving money is easier when you don’t have to think about it. You link your bank account, Digit scans it, and uses that information to save money for you. Unlike Acorn, Digit does not save money each time you make a purchase. Instead, it transfers money from your bank account to a separate savings account. This means that it’s best for those who use a debit card for most of their purchases, because it gives Digit a better idea of your spending habits.
A subsidiary of PayPal, Honey is a simple browser extension that’s basically a very smart coupon book. When you shop online, it’ll automatically check for coupon and discount codes. It works on everything from Amazon to food delivery services. It won’t find an active coupon code every time, but you’ll be thankful when it does. Honey has a mobile app, too, allowing you to save on your phone. It also automatically converts a part of your purchase into “Honey Gold,” which you can redeem for gift cards and other bonuses. It’s not an immediate moneysaver, but these things add up, especially if you shop online often.
There are countless apps and programs out there for spending and budgeting: your bank almost certainly has a free program you can take advantage of. But, if you're looking to start saving immediately or want to take complete control of your budget, these apps are a great place to start.
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