Budgeting on paper is a thing of the past because the best budgeting tool is in your pocket: your smartphone. There are 100s of budgeting apps you can pick from but how do you know which one is the best for you?
We’ve tried and researched them, so you don’t have to. Here are in-depth reviews of the four top-rated budgeting apps available to download:
Good Budget takes the “cash-in-envelope” method online. To log in, you only need an email and password. This means you don’t need a bank account to use it and you manually enter all your purchases. They have pre-made “envelopes” for you to use to categorize your income, and you can also make your own “envelopes.”
After manually adding in your transactions, it gives you a great visual representation of where you stand with your budget. The free version gives you 20 envelopes to allocate your funds and divides them into “regular” expenses and “more” expenses; this helps you prioritize your purchases. The app is very simple, made just for budgeting. Also, the Goodbudget website offers great articles about budgeting and budgeting tips.
The free version of the app doesn’t offer much flexibility. To get automatic tracking of your purchases and unlimited envelopes you have to buy their paid “Plus” plan. You also can’t link more than one account to the app, so you manually have to keep up with your bills.
Daily Budget is the best fit for those who want to do one thing: budget. If you want to track your essentials like bills and groceries and not your other purchases, the simple set up is a recipe for success.
A feature that sets this app apart from others is that it allows you to set up a day-to-day budget. It adjusts your daily budgets if you spend more on another day or less. This works by putting in your monthly income and then it splits it out over the month. This app also includes goal setting and a section where you can add things to your “wishlist” to save up to purchase. The app is easy to use with a simple design, and it is also quick to set up.
If you want a detailed budget, then this isn’t the app for you. The app offers only four budgeting categories — general, groceries, housing and transportation. There is no option to link a bank account to DailyBudget, and you have to manually enter your purchases.
Around since 2006, Mint is owned by Intuit, the same company that makes Quickbooks and TurboTax. This app automatically makes an organized monthly budget based on your spending history all you have to do is log in to your bank online.
You don’t need your account or routing number on you to begin using this app. All you need is your bank login information to link your account. The app is full of user-friendly features; it’s easy to add budget categories, bills and track income as well. It also sends you notifications when you have a low balance. You can also use their website on your laptop or desktop computer just as easily.
The only disadvantage of this app is that it isn’t made for just budgeting. While the budgeting parts are user-friendly and helpful, there are a lot of advertisements for credit cards and information about investments. Ads are easily ignored, but they make using the app clunky.
Dave Ramsey, a Tennessee-based finance guru, founded EveryDollar. This app is zero-dollar based, meaning you budget for every dollar you make. The budgeter is responsible for manually entering their budgets.
EveryDollar encourages you to set savings goals, like paying off debt or saving for a downpayment on a house. Then it asks you a few questions that will factor into your spending habits, like if you’re a homeowner or renter. Then, you enter your income and bills to your profile. This app is best used for goal-oriented savings because it treats putting money in your savings account like a monthly bill.
The main disadvantage of EasyMoney is that it doesn’t provide all its services for free. If you want to have your transactions automatically record in the app, the program costs $129 a year.
Don’t feel like once you download a budgeting app you have to use it forever! If it’s not working after a few weeks, give another one a try. You just need to find what works best for you. Because budgeting apps put your financial plan in your pocket, which is the best place for it.