Almost everyone wants to improve how they save and budget their money — and the tech world has taken notice by releasing a steady stream of financial tools to lend a hand. We sifted through several budget apps and selected the most helpful ones.
Whether you need an app that subscribes you to a specific budgeting method or one that simply lets you know when your bank account is running low, the solution is on this list. Bonus: Many of these tools are free, and all are available on iOS and Android devices.
Mint, for saving more and spending less
- About: This budgeting management tool syncs with user accounts to track spending.
- Cost: Free.
Mint has been the gold standard for budgeting tools for some time, and the app takes the top spot here for a few reasons: It automatically updates and categorizes transactions, creating a picture of spending in real-time. Users can add their own categories, track bills, split transactions and set budgets that alert them when they’re exceeding their maximum spending threshold. The service also provides free credit scores and credit score monitoring.
YNAB and EveryDollar, for zero-based budgeting
- About: This robust, hands-on app and software helps users learn to live on last month’s income.
- Cost: $84 a year or $11.99 a month (after a 34-day free trial), free for students for 12 months.
- About: EveryDollar says users can make their first budget in less than 10 minutes.
- Cost: Free or $129.99 a year for Plus.
YNAB is for the committed user, no doubt. It’s based on the zero-based budgeting system, and users must make a plan for every dollar they earn. It also requires a financial investment of either $84 a year or $11.99 a month, after a 34-day free trial. (Students who provide proof of enrollment get an additional 12 months free.) Those who pay this price can benefit from YNAB’s many features. You can connect bank accounts, set goals, contribute to savings and customize spending categories. You can also access resources, like app user guides, budgeting advice and free workshops.
EveryDollar is a budgeting app that helps users track their spending and plan for purchases. It’s tailored for zero-based budgeting, which is a method where your expenses equal your income. With the free version of the app, users can create a transaction each time they spend money to account for it in their budget. Or, for a more streamlined experience, upgrade to EveryDollar Plus to connect your bank account and expenses. EveryDollar Plus costs, though. It’s billed annually for $129.99.
PocketGuard, for a simplified budgeting snapshot
- About: PocketGuard gives users a snapshot of how much they can spend at any given moment.
- Cost: Free.
PocketGuard boils budgeting down to the only thing many users want to know: how much they have for spending. It crunches the numbers to show how much money is available after accounting for bills, spending and savings goal contributions. All users can view how much money is left “in my pocket” for the day, week or month. Those who want to dial down farther can track certain categories of spending — like groceries, clothing or eating out.
Clarity Money, for all-inclusive budgeting
- About: Clarity Money tracks spending and subscriptions.
- Cost: Free.
Clarity Money is a comprehensive budgeting and saving app. Users can link financial accounts from thousands of institutions, organize expenses, track spending and bucket their spending into different categories. There are other features, too, like subscription canceling and credit score monitoring, which provide a more inclusive financial picture beyond just transactions.
Goodbudget, for shared envelope-budgeting
- About: Goodbudget users allocate their money toward specific spending categories.
- Cost: Free for a basic account; $6 per month or $50 manually for the Plus version.
Goodbudget is based on the envelope system, in which you portion out your monthly income toward specific spending categories. The app allows multiple devices to access the same account, so partners and family members can share a budget. Unlike other apps, Goodbudget doesn’t have you sync bank accounts. You manually add account balances (that you can pull from your bank’s website), as well as cash amounts and debts. With accounts and income entered, you assign money toward spending categories, known as envelopes. The free version allows one account, two devices and limited envelopes. The Plus version, which is $6 per month or $50 annually, offers unlimited envelopes and accounts, up to five devices and other perks.
Personal Capital, for tracking wealth and spending
- About: Personal Capital is an investment tool with budgeting features to help users optimize their investment strategy.
- Cost: Free.
Personal Capital is an investment management service that combines the algorithms used by robo-advisors with access to human financial advisors. While Personal Capital is primarily an investment tool, its free app includes features helpful for budgeters looking to track their spending. You can connect and monitor checking, savings and credit card accounts, as well as IRAs, 401(k)s, mortgages and loans. The app provides a spending snapshot by listing recent transactions by category. You can customize those categories and see the percentage of total monthly spending that category represents. Personal Capital also serves up a net worth tracker and portfolio breakdown.
More budgeting resources from NerdWallet
If you want to work on your budget but aren’t sure an app is the right way to go, there are other options you can try, such as:
- Use a free budget worksheet to record your expenses.
- Explore other online budget templates to help with a quick check of your finances.
- Estimate how to divide your monthly income using the 50/30/20 rule.
- Read up on how to make a budget.