Best budget tracking apps

Drawing up and following a monthly budget can be crucial to financial success. Especially for beginners, cultivating the habit of regularly keeping track of the money coming in and going out of your home is a valuable practice. As with any habit, having the right support can be beneficial. The budgeting tool that’s right for you is the one you’ll actually use, whether it’s a comprehensive best budget tracking apps, an elaborate spreadsheet or more manual methods. To guide you in choosing the ideal budgeting app, Forbes Advisor has evaluated eight of the best options available.

1 – YNAB

Why use the best budget tracking apps : This app is designed to guide users in making their financial decisions in advance, rather than just tracking past transactions. YNAB adopts the zero-based budgeting system, allowing every dollar earned to be planned for a specific purpose.

When you receive your paycheck, you tell YNAB the appropriate allocation for various categories, including expenses, savings and debts. The aim is to encourage financial intentionality by actively involving users in making decisions about where their money goes.

YNAB is highly practical, making it easy to navigate through its learning process. The YNAB website offers extensive educational resources to help users understand how to budget and use the app.

YNAB allows you to link current and savings accounts, credit cards and loans. The best budget tracking apps  are compatible with smartphones, desktops, iPads, Apple Watch and Alexa devices.

Reasons to reconsider: A commitment to regular monitoring is crucial to getting the most out of YNAB, and it’s best suited to users who want to be proactive in their financial planning. In addition, YNAB’s price is relatively high compared to the other apps on this list.

Cost: US$ 14.99 per month or US$ 99 per year, with the option to try it free for 34 days. University students can use YNAB for free for a year.

2 – Goodbudget

Goodbudget, for practical budgeting with envelopes

Why we recommend it: Goodbudget focuses more on financial planning than on tracking past transactions. This best budget tracking app  adopts the envelope budgeting system, in which you distribute your monthly income into specific spending categories, known as envelopes.

The best budget tracking apps do not make direct connections to your bank accounts. You manually enter account balances, which can be obtained from your banks’ websites, as well as cash amounts, debts and income. You then distribute the money among the envelopes.

You can access the application via mobile devices and the web. Goodbudget also offers a variety of useful articles and videos to help you use the application.

Goodbudget has a free version which includes an account, support for two devices and a limited number of envelopes. Its paid version, Goodbudget Plus, offers unlimited envelopes and accounts, support for up to five devices and other benefits.

Why think twice: As the application does not allow synchronization with financial accounts, all expenses must be entered manually. If you’re not willing to do this work, the app may not be effective.

Cost: Goodbudget is free. Goodbudget Plus costs US$ 8 per month or US$ 70 per year.

3 – EveryDollar

EveryDollar, for simple zero-based budgeting

Why we recommend it: This best budget tracking app  offers a zero-based budget structure that is simpler (and perhaps easier to manage) compared to YNAB.

Starting with the free, straightforward version of EveryDollar, you don’t synchronize accounts, but manually enter money in and out throughout the month. In addition, you can categorize line items in your budget and set up reminders for bill payments.

The paid premium version of EveryDollar retains these features, but also offers the option of connecting to your bank account. This allows your transactions to be automatically imported into the app, which also provides personalized reports and suggestions based on your financial habits. In addition, you can connect your savings and investment accounts.

Reasons to think twice: The free version of EveryDollar is fairly basic and the premium version comes at a high cost. In addition, the app’s website offers few resources to help users understand how the app works before signing up for a trial. The app’s overall rating on Google Play has dropped from 4 to 3.3 in recent years.

Cost: The basic version of EveryDollar is free. You can try the premium version for free for 14 days. After the trial period, the cost is $79.99 per year or $17.99 per month.

4 – Empower the Personal Dashboard

Empower the Personal Dashboard, to monitor wealth and spending

Why we recommend it: Empower Personal Dashboard, formerly known as Personal Capital, is essentially an investment tool, but its free app includes useful features for those who want to monitor their spending.

You can connect and track checking, savings and credit card accounts, as well as IRAs, 401(k)s, mortgages and loans. The app gives you a quick overview of your spending, listing recent transactions by category. You can customize these categories and view the percentage of total monthly spending represented by each category.

Empower also offers a net worth and portfolio tracker. The application is accessible from both mobile and desktop devices.

Why think twice: If your focus is on spending and savings planning, you may want to explore other options. Although the budgeting features contributed to the app’s inclusion on this list, its investment tools are what make it stand out. There are other apps with more advanced budgeting features.

5 – PocketGuard

PocketGuard, for a simplified budget snapshot

Why we recommend it: PocketGuard doesn’t have the most robust catalog of features on our list, but that’s what makes it special. The application stands out for its simplicity.

By connecting your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments, the best budget tracking app keeps track of your bills. Based on this information, it shows you how much money you still have available to spend, after setting aside funds for necessities, bills and goals.

PocketGuard also monitors your net worth and offers the option of not linking your accounts, allowing you to monitor your finances manually. The paid version, PocketGuard Plus, includes a debt settlement plan, the ability to export your transactions and other features.

Why think twice: This best budget tracking app does most of the work for you. This is great for an almost intervention-free experience, but it may not be the best choice if you want greater control over your money planning. In addition, user ratings on Google Play have dropped from 4.4 to 3.7 in the last year.

Cost: The basic version of PocketGuard is free. PocketGuard Plus costs $7.99 per month, $34.99 per year or $79.99 for a lifetime purchase.

6 – Honeydue

Honeydue, for budget sharing with a partner

Why we recommend it: Honeydue is designed so that you and your partner can view your finances together in a single best budget tracking app. Both partners can synchronize bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments (with the option to choose what to share).

The free budget best budget tracking app, automatically categorizes expenses, but you can also create custom categories. Together, you can set monthly limits for each category, receiving alerts from Honeydue when you or your partner are approaching these limits.

Honeydue also sends reminders for future accounts and offers a chat function, allowing you and your partner to chat and even send emojis.

Why think twice: Like some of the other apps on this list, Honeydue tends to reflect and learn from previous transactions rather than plan expenses in advance. What’s more, its ratings on Google Play have dropped from 4.1 to 3.3 in the last two years.

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