Best Budgeting Apps Of February 2024 – Forbes Advisor

Best Budgeting Apps Of February 2024 – Forbes Advisor

Best Budgeting Apps Of February 2024

Rachel Murphy is a freelance writer passionate about helping people make their money work harder. She has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, focused on small businesses, banking, investing, and healthcare. She has worked with several outlets, including Investopedia, Verywell Health, Money, and IN Kansas City Magazine.

Rachel Murphy Contributor

Rachel Murphy is a freelance writer passionate about helping people make their money work harder. She has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, focused on small businesses, banking, investing, and healthcare. She has worked with several outlets, including Investopedia, Verywell Health, Money, and IN Kansas City Magazine.

Contributor

Brooke Enloe is an Updates Editor on the Banking team. She is an editor and writer, passionate about producing enlightening content for readers. Her articles are about recent banking news, specifically bonuses and new products. Brooke has written copy for various websites, including blogs and news releases. Brooke is a graduate of Clemson University with a degree in Communication and a double minor in Brand Communication and Writing in Media Studies.

Brooke Enloe is an Updates Editor on the Banking team. She is an editor and writer, passionate about producing enlightening content for readers. Her articles are about recent banking news, specifically bonuses and new products. Brooke has written copy for various websites, including blogs and news releases. Brooke is a graduate of Clemson University with a degree in Communication and a double minor in Brand Communication and Writing in Media Studies.

Updated: Feb 1, 2024, 2:20pm

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

The best budget tool for you is the one you’ll actually use, whether that’s a full-featured app, a tricked-out spreadsheet or more manual means. To help in your search for the right budgeting app, we’ve ranked seven of the best budgeting apps available. One of the best free budgeting apps, Mint, no longer appears on this list because it was discontinued on January 1, 2024.

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Why you can trust Forbes Advisor: Our editors are committed to bringing you unbiased ratings and information. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. We use data-driven methodologies to evaluate financial products and companies, so all are measured equally. You can read more about our editorial guidelines and the banking methodology for the ratings below.

  • 15 budgeting apps evaluated
  • 18 data points considered
  • 5 features weighed and scored
  • Best CD Rates
  • Best High-Yield Savings Accounts
  • Best Money Market Accounts
  • Best Online Banks
  • Best Checking Accounts
  • Best Business Checking Accounts

Show Summary

  • Best Budgeting Apps Of February 2024
  • YNAB (You Need A Budget)
  • Empower Personal Dashboard™
  • Goodbudget
  • Oportun (formerly Digit)
  • PocketGuard
  • Stash
  • Honeydue
  • Summary of Best Budgeting Apps of 2024
  • Methodology
  • Why Is Budgeting Important?
  • How To Budget
  • What Makes for a Successful Budget?
  • What Is a Budgeting App?
  • Pros and Cons of Budgeting Apps
  • Do Budgeting Apps Really Work?
  • How To Choose a Budgeting App
  • Alternatives to Budgeting Apps
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Best Budgeting Apps Of February 2024

  • YNAB (You Need A Budget): Best Budgeting App For Achieving Financial Goals
  • Empower Personal Dashboard™: Best Budgeting App For Investors
  • Goodbudget: Best Budget App For Budgeting Using Envelopes
  • Oportun (formerly Digit): Best Budget App For Passive Saving And Investing
  • PocketGuard: Best Budgeting App For Tracking Spending
  • Stash: Best Budget App For Getting Started With Investing
  • Honeydue: Best Budgeting App For Couples

We’ve compared 15 budgeting apps to find some of the best mobile apps available for managing budgets, savings and expenses. For the purposes of this list, Forbes Advisor focused on apps that are available to U.S. consumers. The seven apps shown on this list offer a variety of useful features and tools that can meet varied personal finance and money management needs.

App details are accurate as of February 1, 2024.

Best Budgeting App for Achieving Financial Goals

YNAB (You Need A Budget)

Our ratings take into account a product’s features, costs, consumer ratings, security and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

After free trial, $14.99/month or $99/year

Time Period for Free Version

Number of Ratings

After free trial, $14.99/month or $99/year

Why We Picked It

Our experts picked YNAB because it assists users with figuring out their financial priorities and goals and gives each dollar a job. These priorities have resulted in a loyal following from customers.

Within the app, there are several features to put customers on the path to efficient budgeting. Features such as financial goal tracking, reporting on financial habits and support from YNAB staff—with dozens of online workshops available—make budgeting an easier experience.

Pros & Cons

  • Accessible from several different devices
  • Shareable with one other person
  • Live help from YNAB staff, along with interactive webinars
  • Lack of investment tracking
  • The user interface isn’t much different from a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

YNAB, short for You Need A Budget, is an award-winning budgeting program that specializes in helping consumers save money and get out of debt. YNAB is accessible both from desktop and mobile platforms and also from voice-activated devices. There is no upfront commitment with YNAB. You can try it risk-free for the first 34 days.

YNAB prides itself not on looking into past financial insights but rather on focusing on your present situation and future possibilities. The YNAB app is available for both iOS (4.8 stars) and Android (4.6 stars).

Learn More On Personalcapital.com’s Secure Website

Have you considered Empower?

  • Several tools available to monitor investment portfolio performance
  • Detailed analytics of cash flow, budgeting, net worth and transactions
  • Available features that focus on short-term and long-term financial goals

Learn More On Personalcapital.com’s Secure Website
No Thanks, Take me back

Best Budgeting App for Investors

Empower Personal Dashboard™

Our ratings take into account a product’s features, costs, consumer ratings, security and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Time Period for Free Version

Number of Ratings

On Empower’s Website
Why We Picked It

Our experts picked Empower Personal Dashboard™ (formerly Personal Capital) as the best budgeting app for investors because of its outstanding reporting options, desktop capabilities, investment management platform and spending tracking. Empower gives a holistic view of customers’ entire financial picture, from day-to-day spending to tracking portfolio performance.

Pros & Cons

  • Several tools available to monitor investment portfolio performance
  • Detailed analytics of cash flow, budgeting, net worth and transactions
  • Available features that focus on short-term and long-term financial goals
  • Personal Capital Cash (interest-bearing, no-fee checking account) is available
  • Portfolio management service minimum balance is $100,000
  • User interface is limited in customizations

Empower Personal Dashboard™ has several savings tools designed to help build retirement savings and emergency funds and pay down debt. It also has excellent advisory tools, including an investment checkup, investment fee analyzer, financial planning, cash flow tracking, education cost planning and real-time net worth tracking. All of these tools give detailed insights into your current financial picture while helping you plan for the future.

The list of features may sound overwhelming, but the app is easy to use. Empower also has a desktop version, giving users a multiplatform option for managing their finances.

Getting started with the app is simple—all users need to do is link bank accounts, credit cards, student loans, mortgages and other line items from their budget. From there, the app will gather information to produce a full financial picture. The Empower app is available for both iOS (4.7 stars) and Android (3.7 stars).

Best Budget App for Budgeting Using Envelopes

Goodbudget

Our ratings take into account a product’s features, costs, consumer ratings, security and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Free version; Plus is $8/month or $70/year

Time Period for Free Version

Number of Ratings

Read Our Full Review

Free version; Plus is $8/month or $70/year

Why We Picked It

The Goodbudget app ranked highly with our experts because it takes the time-tested envelope method and makes it digital. By dividing your funds up into digital envelopes labeled with their purposes, such as rent, groceries, bills and entertainment, the Goodbuget app helps you track spending while giving every dollar a purpose. Plus, the free version offers plenty of functionality.

Pros & Cons

  • Free version is similar to the paid version
  • Affordable paid version
  • Digitizes the envelope budgeting method
  • Free version restricts users to one financial institution
  • You must manually add each purchase

The Goodbudget app is also great for managing a shared household budget, as you can sync the budget with more than one person. Additionally, Goodbudget provides educational resources, including budget bootcamp webinars, podcasts and informative blog posts to further your financial prowess.

The free version is very similar to the paid version. The Plus version contains all of the same features but with extended capabilities. For example, the free version gives each account 20 envelopes for organizing your finances, while the paid version gives you unlimited envelopes.

The platform is accessible from a mobile device, tablet or desktop. The Goodbudget app is available for both iOS (4.6 stars) and Android (4.2 stars).

Best Budget App for Passive Saving and Investing

Oportun (formerly Digit)

Our ratings take into account a product’s features, costs, consumer ratings, security and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

After free trial, $5 per month

Time Period for Free Version

Number of Ratings

Read Our Full Review

After free trial, $5 per month

Why We Picked It

Our experts like Oportun (formerly known as Digit) because it takes the “set it and forget it” approach, automating your budget and making saving money less of a hassle. All you need to do is input how much you want to save and when you want to hit that mark. Opportun then uses machine learning to calculate an appropriate amount to deposit in either your savings account or a retirement account each day. You can create custom goals within the app for personalized help.

Read our full Oportun review.

Pros & Cons

  • Automates savings using machine learning
  • Savings account is FDIC insured
  • Easy-to-navigate user interface
  • Can’t directly move money from savings to investing
  • Free version has a 30-day time limit

If you wish to start investing along with working toward your goals, Oportun will help you select an investment fund suited for your needs.

Oportun is free for the first 30 days. Once your free trial period is up, you pay $5 per month. The Oportun app is available for both iOS (4.7 stars) and Android (4.1 stars).

Best Budgeting App for Tracking Spending

PocketGuard

Our ratings take into account a product’s features, costs, consumer ratings, security and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Free version; Plus is $7.99/month, $34.99/year or $79.99/lifetime

Time Period for Free Version

Number of Ratings

Free version; Plus is $7.99/month, $34.99/year or $79.99/lifetime

Why We Picked It

Our experts picked PocketGuard as the best app for tracking spending thanks to its simple interface, which shows how much money you have, how much your bills are and how much money is left over. The app also shows you—in a helpful customizable pie chart—which expenses are taking up most of your budget. To help remind yourself of possible overspending, you can establish spending limits directly in the app.

Pros & Cons

  • Ability to integrate bank accounts from thousands of institutions
  • Real-time spending availability for specified categories
  • Build custom budgets and set goals for savings
  • Some features are only available to paid users
  • PocketGuard website is challenging to navigate

One excellent feature of the app is that by linking your recurring bills, it can help you negotiate better rates on your bills, such as your cable bill or cellphone. The app does this by serving tailored offers to its users once they input information in their profile section.

The In My Pocket feature helps you manage cash flow by showing you how much money you have to save or spend after you cover your bills, budgets and goals. Linking your bank accounts and credit accounts is required for In My Pocket. After identifying your recurring income, expenses and savings goals, PocketGuard will calculate the spend/save amount each month.

Keep in mind that the app limits some features in the free version, such as tracking your cash flow and the ability to create your own spending categories. The PocketGuard app is available for both iOS (4.7 stars) and Android.

Learn More On Personalcapital.com’s Secure Website

Have you considered Empower?

  • Several tools available to monitor investment portfolio performance
  • Detailed analytics of cash flow, budgeting, net worth and transactions
  • Available features that focus on short-term and long-term financial goals

Learn More On Personalcapital.com’s Secure Website
No Thanks, Take me back

Best Budget App For Getting Started With Investing

Stash

Our ratings take into account a product’s features, costs, consumer ratings, security and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Time Period for Free Version

Number of Ratings

On Stash’s Website
Why We Picked It

Our experts chose Stash because it builds active investing into your budget and makes investing possible for everyone—even with just a few dollars. You can get started investing in stocks with what are called fractional shares, or portions of a single share of stock, which makes investing in your favorite companies more affordable.

Pros & Cons

  • Investing features available for all consumers
  • Checking account option has no fees
  • Excellent features for families, including life insurance and investing for minor children
  • Prices start at $3/month
  • One month free trial
  • No free version available
  • No resources for tax strategy or planning
  • Bank account does not pay interest

When you subscribe to Stash, you will be given access to several budgeting tools, a taxable brokerage account, a debit card that earns you stocks when you use it for expenses and a digital checking account.

Within the budgeting portion of the app, Stash comes with features where you can track your spending and set savings goals. If you want to automate these goals, you can use tools like round-ups and automatic investing to help you achieve your goals passively. Along with passive saving, the checking account Stash offers has no overdraft fees, no minimum balance, no hidden fees and checks received through direct deposit are received up to two days early.

Stash comes in two different plans, each including base features such as investing, banking and budgeting tools. Stash Growth, a $3 monthly plan, also offers access to Stash Smart Portfolios and retirement IRA accounts. The $9-per-month Stash+ account includes $10,000 in life insurance coverage, investing for children within a custodial account and premium investing research and advice. The Stash app is available for both iOS (4.7 stars) and Android (3.7 stars).

Best Budgeting App for Couples

Honeydue

Our ratings take into account a product’s features, costs, consumer ratings, security and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Time Period for Free Version

Number of Ratings

Read Our Full Review
Why We Picked It

Our experts selected Honeydue because it aims to help couples achieve better communication and transparency around their expenses and finances. Instead of texting or calling your partner, couples can chat back and forth about expenses inside the app. Paired with automated bill reminders, this app makes it easy to stay on the same page as your partner when it comes to bills. You can also decide within the app if one person will be responsible for an expense, or if it will be split evenly.

Pros & Cons

  • App is free
  • Ability to chat with partner within the app
  • Joint bank account available, easily integrates into app
  • Over 20,000 financial institutions from which to integrate financial information
  • There is no desktop version of the app
  • No feature to track progress toward financial goals
  • No reporting or analytics available

To get started with the app, integrate your bank accounts into the app. The app hosts over 20,000 different financial institutions. If you and your partner choose, you can open a Honeydue joint bank account, which is FDIC-insured via Sutton Bank. The account has no fees or minimums and comes with a free debit card with which you can access more than 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs, Apple Pay and Google Pay. It also can provide instant notifications to your partner. The Honeydue app is available for both iOS (4.5 stars) and Android (3.4 stars).

Summary of Best Budgeting Apps of 2024

Company Company – Logo Forbes Advisor Rating Forbes Advisor Rating Best For Cost Time Period for Free Version Learn More CTA text Learn more CTA below text LEARN MORE YNAB (You Need A Budget) 4.7 > Achieving Financial Goals After free trial, $14.99/month or $99/year 34 days Learn More Read Our Full Review Empower Personal Dashboard™ 4.5 > Investors Free Unlimited Learn More On Empower’s Website Goodbudget 4.5 > Budgeting Using Envelopes Free version; Plus is $8/month or $70/year Unlimited Learn More Read Our Full Review Oportun (formerly Digit) 4.5 > Passive Saving and Investing After free trial, $5 per month 30 days Learn More Read Our Full Review PocketGuard 4.2 > Tracking Spending Free version; Plus is $7.99/month, $34.99/year or $79.99/lifetime Unlimited Learn More Read Our Full Review Stash 4.2 > Getting Started With Investing $3 or $9/month N/A Learn More On Stash’s Website Honeydue 3.9 > Couples Free Unlimited Learn More Read Our Full Review

Methodology

To create this list, Forbes Advisor analyzed 15 budgeting apps. We ranked each budgeting app on 18 data points within the categories of consumer ratings, costs associated with the app, security and encryption of consumers’ data, desktop availability and the ability to share the app with someone else.

The following is the weighting assigned to each category:

  • Mobile app rating (App Store and Google Play): 35%
  • Cost: 25%
  • Encryption/Security: 15%
  • Account integration capabilities: 10%
  • Website version available: 10%
  • Ability to share: 5%

Budgeting apps with a higher overall rating relative to their number of reviews ranked higher on our list, as did those that are completely free. We also prioritized mobile apps with advanced security features, like biometric authentication, multifactor authentication and encryption. Apps that allow the ability to connect an unlimited number of accounts moved toward the top of our list, as did apps that also have a website version and allow for sharing with family or friends.

Why Is Budgeting Important?

With more than half of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, according to multiple surveys, budgeting is critical to helping people break free from financial struggle and create financial stability. The U.S. has seen a rapid escalation in housing and health care costs over the last 30 years, leaving less money to put toward savings and retirement.

Having no financial plan or budget in place can cause stress and overwhelm you, leading to increased spending, living beyond one’s means and perpetuating destructive cycles. But having a solid budget in place as part of your overall money mindfulness can make a huge difference—not only by helping you achieve your financial goals but also by reducing stress and anxiety and improving your overall quality of life.

How To Budget

Creating and managing a successful monthly budget is all about knowing how much money you bring in and how you actually spend it. Your income should be greater than your expenses, and you should have enough wiggle room to set money aside each month for savings and retirement. If your balance isn’t where you want it to be, it’s time to create a budget plan.

Build in breathing room. Rounding up your expenses to the nearest dollar or five dollars can provide a comfortable pad, so one math mistake doesn’t result in an overdraft fee. Another way to do this is to set a false bottom threshold in your account—instead of considering $0 the bottom of your checking account, consider $200 the bottom. This approach can serve as a safety net in a worst-case scenario.

How To Make a Budget Plan

To get started on a budget plan, list your income and expenses. Connecting your bank accounts to your favorite budgeting app is the easiest way to do this, but you can also do it manually with a pen and paper or spreadsheet program.

Next, separate your fixed expenses from your variable expenses. Fixed expenses are those that don’t change from month to month, such as housing, utilities, insurance, child care and loan payments, including automobiles, student loans or credit card payments. Variable expenses include groceries, entertainment, dining out, vacations and streaming services. Finally, consider factoring in monthly contributions to savings goals like retirement or an emergency fund.

If your expenses exceed your income, look at your variable expenses first to see where you might trim the budget. After that, you can consider ways to cut back on fixed expenses, such as moving to a neighborhood with lower rent or refinancing your debt.

How To Budget for Groceries

Budgeting for groceries can be tricky—everyone needs to eat. If you’re unsure how much to budget for groceries, compare your spending to the USDA’s food plan. Keep in mind that special dietary restrictions may push your grocery bill higher.

If you want to cut back on your grocery bill, meal planning can help. Create a weekly plan to make recipes that share ingredients or use pantry staples. Meat is a significant expense, so adopting a meatless Monday meal can also help lower grocery costs. Buying in bulk rather than single-use packaging can also save you some cash.

How To Budget for a Vacation

A vacation can be an exciting savings goal if you have some breathing room in your budget. The first step to budgeting for a vacation is to decide how much you want to spend and when you want to go. If you’re eyeing a $5,000 beach vacation one year from now, you can break that up into a monthly savings goal of around $420.

Not sure you want to commit to an expensive trip? Consider lower-cost options like a road trip, or keep your eyes peeled for a good deal. Budgeting for a vacation means you’ll have the funds ready when airfares drop or that aspirational ski lodge becomes available for booking.

How To Budget for Rent

To determine how much you should spend on rent, use the 28/36 rule. This budgeting principle says that you should spend no more than 28% of your total pre-tax income on housing or 36% of your total income on debt in general—which can include housing and a car payment or student loans. Using this rule, if you make $3,400 per month, you can afford up to $952 in rent and $1,224 in total monthly debt payments.

Sharing an apartment or house can help reduce your housing budget, as can moving to a cheaper area. If finding more affordable accommodations isn’t an option, you might have to look to other areas of your budget to cut costs.

How To Budget for a Wedding

Aside from buying a house or car, a wedding is one of the largest expenses most people will pay for in their lives, often costing tens of thousands of dollars.

If you’re saving for a wedding, first determine who might be willing to contribute. Family members may offer to pay for one aspect of a wedding or contribute a set amount of money to use for whatever you and your future spouse see fit. Then, determine how much you and your partner can contribute.

Once you have a baseline budget, decide how you’ll allocate your funds. List typical wedding expenses and determine what’s most important to you. Some essential line items include:

• Venue—both for the ceremony and the reception
• Flowers and decor
• Wedding attire
• Photography
• Catering and rentals
• Favors and gifts
• Invitations
• Music
• Rings
• Officiant

Focus your spending on the elements you cherish most. If you need help breaking down costs, check out apps focused on wedding planning.

What Makes for a Successful Budget?

Budgeting is a process that begins with identifying your financial goals, along with observing your spending and savings habits. When you truly understand how much money is going out and coming in, you’re better prepared to handle both the expected and unexpected financial challenges life brings.

The mindset you bring to managing your money is important. Establishing a budget is a critical first step to gaining control over your finances. If you’ve never worked with a personal budget, it may take a few cycles for your habits to catch up. And, if you have money habits you need to improve, the right app can help.

What Is a Budgeting App?

A budgeting app is an app designed to help you optimize the spending and savings choices you make each month. By putting all your financial commitments and goals in one place, a budgeting app can give you better visibility into your financial choices and habits.

Similar to the apps you may use from your bank or credit union, a budgeting app may provide additional functionality such as financial goal setting and cash flow tracking across multiple financial accounts. Budgeting apps can sync with your bank and credit card accounts to provide a holistic view of your finances.

Some budgeting apps will use a specific budgeting approach—like envelope or zero-based budgeting—while others will address budgeting more generally, allowing for customization based on your needs. A fully featured budgeting app can help you track spending, manage recurring bill payments, set savings goals and manage monthly cash flow.

Pros and Cons of Budgeting Apps

Pros

  • Syncing. Many budgeting apps let you sync multiple accounts to see an overview of your finances in one place.
  • Goal setting. Budgeting apps make it easy to set multiple financial goals, such as a vacation or a down payment on a house, and see your progress toward them.
  • Convenience. Apps are easily accessible from your mobile phone or tablet for on-the-go spend tracking and budget check-ins.
  • Automation. Apps give you a more hands-off way to create and manage your budget. Compared to manual budgeting methods, you can save time and energy.

Cons

  • Device limitations. Desktop versions of budgeting apps are not always available. And when they are, they might not be as user-friendly as the mobile versions.
  • Fees. Many budgeting apps charge monthly usage or subscription fees, and those that don’t may have in-app ads to try to sell you something.

Do Budgeting Apps Really Work?

Budgeting apps are a great tool to help ensure you’re living your budget, not just planning one. They can provide insights into your spending habits, identifying where your money goes and where you can make improvements.

As with any app, whether or not it “works” depends largely on how you use it. A challenge with budgeting generally—whether managed with an app, a spreadsheet, or more manual means—is committing not only to having a budget but to making your financial decisions in line with it. Many people find that the interactivity and automation provided by a budgeting app help keep them motivated to stay on top of their personal finances.

How To Choose a Budgeting App

Picking a budgeting app can seem like a small decision when compared to other personal finance choices. But the right budgeting app can make a big difference in your personal financial life.

When selecting a budgeting app, be sure to consider what your needs and goals are first. The right budgeting app can provide you with helpful insights and data into your expenses and savings. But before that happens, identifying your financial goals can help you refine your search for the right budgeting app for you.

Outside of your goals, here are a few features to consider before you commit to a budgeting app:

  • Fees. Budgeting apps differ in their costs. Many budgeting apps are free—or offer free versions—while some charge a monthly fee. While it may be tempting to choose a free app, don’t overlook the paid apps. If a budgeting app can significantly improve your financial outlook, it may very well be worth the investment.
  • Features. Each app has unique features and benefits, so it may make sense to test a few different apps to see which one best fits your needs. If you’ve used a mobile banking app, you have a head start on the features you’ll be seeking. Typical features in the leading budgeting apps include: connecting all your financial accounts, receiving notifications of upcoming bill payments, designing a budget, credit score tracking, tracking spending, setting up financial goals and more.
  • Security. The security of your personal information is extremely important, especially around banking data and logins. While most budgeting apps have some level of security, some are more sophisticated than others. Be sure to look into the level of security encryption of each app. On their websites, you may find security features such as 256-bit encryption and multi-factor authentication. Along with using a secure Wi-Fi network, features like this will help deter intruders from accessing your information.
  • Customer service. If you run into an issue when using a budgeting app, having a technical team you can reach out to can be helpful. When selecting a budgeting app, be sure to find out what customer service options are available, both from the app and from the desktop version, if applicable. It also may help to read reviews of others’ experiences with the app you’re considering.

When searching for the perfect budgeting app, consider your personality first. Do you like to see how the sausage is made, or do you want to set it and forget it? Apps like YNAB help you understand where every dollar is going, while apps like Oportun help you automate budgeting so you rarely have to think about it.

Alternatives to Budgeting Apps

Budgeting apps aren’t the only way to manage your money and track your spending. Here are some alternatives to budgeting apps to consider.

Budgeting Software

While mobile apps are convenient for day-to-day budgeting, you might prefer software for a more robust money management experience. Software programs like QuickBooks or Quicken offer expanded capabilities beyond budgeting, like tax software integration and payment management. However, these added features often come at a higher price tag than mobile apps, so consider what you can afford to spend.

Spreadsheet Budgeting

Spreadsheet budgets are highly customizable, making this method ideal for anyone who needs something more hands-on than budgeting apps. With a spreadsheet, you can record your income, keep track of your expenses and see where your money goes each week or month. Excel and Google Sheets are popular choices.

The 50/30/20 budgeting method lends itself well to budgeting with a spreadsheet because you can divide expenses, discretionary spending and savings into categories within the sheet and allocate individual expenditures to each category. To get started, use our 50/30/20 budget calculator.

Expense Tracking Apps

For some, building a detailed budget might not be necessary or might feel too advanced. When this is true, just tracking your spending could be a good place to start. You can do this by looking through your bank or credit card statements periodically or using an app. Expense tracking apps like Mint give you a snapshot of your spending by category. While you can use Mint to budget, you can also just use it to sync your different bank accounts and see your activity more clearly.

Cash Envelope Budgeting

If a mobile app isn’t your style, you might prefer manual budgeting. Budgeting without the help of technology is a good way to hold yourself accountable for your spending. Envelope budgeting or cash stuffing is a tried-and-true system for visualizing your budget that can be done manually.

When you get paid, you’ll distribute portions of your paycheck into envelopes. Each envelope will be designated for a specific category, such as rent, food or gas. With this system, you give every penny of your paycheck a purpose and cannot spend beyond what’s in your envelopes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best budgeting app?

The best budgeting app is the one that best suits your personal finances. Each of the apps recommended above has features to help you avoid common budgeting mistakes and that can apply to a variety of money-managing styles and financial goals. Some banks and credit unions also offer budgeting and tracking tools within their own apps.

What are the best free budgeting apps?

There are several excellent free budgeting apps to choose from here that may meet your needs. However, the best free budgeting app for you is the one that will best serve your personal financial goals. To find the right app for you, don’t hesitate to download a few and test them out for yourself.

What is the easiest budgeting app?

While many budgeting apps claim to have user-friendly interfaces, each person has different likes and preferences. It is difficult to say which budgeting app is easiest to use, but all seven of these highly ranked budgeting apps are designed to provide a positive user experience.

What is the best budget app for couples?

The overall best budgeting app for couples is Honeydue, a free app that promotes transparency and collaboration between any two people who manage money together. Other budget apps for couples to consider include Goodbudget and YNAB.

What is the best budgeting app not linked to a bank account?

If you don’t want to give your bank account information to a budgeting app, YNAB allows for file-based import of transactions as well as manual and automatic tracking. Goodbudget doesn’t connect to your bank account either—instead, it requires you to record each transaction manually.

Are budgeting apps worth it?

Yes, especially when you understand what your financial goals are and use the right budget app to reach them. According to anecdotal reports, some budgeting apps have helped users save thousands of dollars in the first year alone. They can also help consumers make more mindful purchases.

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Contributor

Rachel Murphy is a freelance writer passionate about helping people make their money work harder. She has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, focused on small businesses, banking, investing, and healthcare. She has worked with several outlets, including Investopedia, Verywell Health, Money, and IN Kansas City Magazine.

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