7 Free Budgeting Apps to Help You Manage Your Money
Does budgeting make you nervous? If so, you’re not alone: Only one-third of Americans live by a detailed spending plan according to a 2013 Gallup poll, and perhaps even more alarming: the same number of people have no savings at all.
Money management is tough, but there are plenty of budgeting apps to help you automate, gain control, and focus on your goals. Check out the best digital budgeting tools the internet has to offer. They can provide the foundation you need.
1. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
YNAB offers a hands-on approach to money management by making you account for every single dollar earned. Instead of automatically categorizing your transactions, YNAB makes you import them at the end of each day and categorize them manually. This helps you stay disciplined, keep the focus on your spending and actually stick to your budget.
The app is not overloaded with complicated features, so it’s simple to use and practical for people new to budgeting. They even offer free, live workshops about topics like “How to aggressively pay down debt” and “Reaching your savings goal”.
On average, new users save $600 in the first two months, and more than $6,000 in the first year. Available for iOS and Android users, this app is $50/year but free for the first 30 days, so you can try it out.
Mint.com had over 20 million users in 2016, and its popularity recommends it as one of the best money management tools on the web. Available for iOS and Android users, the Mint budget app allows you to link up your bank accounts and monthly bills to create a budget, and it suggests ways to save based on your spending habits. It also notifies you if your spending seems unusual, which can help you curb your vices and even detect identity theft.
Another thing that sets it apart as one of the best personal finance tools is investment tracking. Supercharge your retirement savings by linking your 401(k), IRAS, and other savings vehicles to your account and using the comparison feature to learn how your growth measures up to the market. A watchful eye might tell you it’s time to make some changes. Best of all, these features are completely free.
It’s tough to save when you exist on a tight budget, but you don’t have to be rich to live well. Mvelopes, available for iOS and Android, employs the old-school “envelopes method” of money management, dividing your paycheck into expense pools (e.g., food, housing, etc.) that help you see exactly where your cash is going. The Basic plan costs just $4 a month, and provides income-based financial planning and advice on how to cut unnecessary expenses that are draining your savings. Mid and top-tier users also get access to Certified Budgeting Coaches who are focused on helping you eliminate debt and learn how to save. All told, Mvelopes is one the best money saving programs apps for consumers.
Saving without a goal in mind is difficult, and Qapital cashes in on your ambivalence by offering motivating and simple budget templatesfun solutions. If you thrive on a rewards system, this iOS and Android app is perfect for you. Designed by behavioral scientists, the app provides you with a set amount of money every day and asks you to “do something,” “go somewhere,” “pay off debt,” etc., with the hope that you’ll better visualize how spending money in one area of life impacts the others. Not only that, the system rewards you if you save money on certain expenses or do something positive with your time. For example, if you’re planning a summer getaway to Spain, you can create a customized “rule” that automatically stashes $10 in your savings account every time you hit the gym or skip your daily coffee at Starbucks. The app is completely free, and you only need to set up an FDIC-insured Qapital savings account to get started (more on that here). If you’re spend-thrifty and enjoy positive reinforcement, it doesn’t get much better than this money management app.
Money is a significant source of stress in relationships, and according to a 2016 Harris Poll done on behalf of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), 42% of U.S. adults admitted to purposely deceiving their partners in matters of household finance. Honeydue’s interface removes the temptation to lie by allowing couples to manage their money together. In fact, user testing found that most couples were enthusiastic when it came to setting up bill payment reminders and monitoring their bank balances as a unit rather than individual cohabitants. The app is currently available for iOS users for free and will (hopefully) pave the way for a happier and more transparent partnership.
6. Daily Limit
Clear limits can be powerful motivators, and this iOS app tells you exactly how much money you can safely spend every day. Parameters are set based on your personal budget, savings goals, and other factors, which means that you don’t have to think about all the things that keep your life running—you only need to focus on the daily bottom line. It also helps you factor in big-ticket purchases, debt reduction, and other goals along the way. The free version will get you on the right path, and even the paid version is a value at $1.99 a month.
7. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
The CFPB is a government agency dedicated to protecting consumer rights you may not even realize you have. For instance, did you know that you’re entitled to free copies of your credit reports every year, or that a mortgage lender can’t review your personal information without permission? The CFPB enforces the federal laws that impact your finances and strives to educate the public. In fact, you’ll rate them as one of the best personal finance blogs when it comes to staying on top of current events and topics, including what to do in the face of a natural disaster, how to protect yourself after a data breach, how to teach your kids about money, and more.
The best budgeting tools are only a few clicks away, but it’s how you use them that makes the difference. Take stock of your financial goals and find balance with these money management sites. The result will help you build wealth and peace of mind.