The Only 3 Budgeting Apps You Need to Know About

by Linsey Knerl on 10 April 2014 4 comments

Gone are the days when balancing a budget required pages of spreadsheets, a pencil, a calculator (and a large eraser), and a great deal of patience. Thanks to technology, budgets can be managed easily on your tablet or phone with minimal work. (See also: Build a Better Budget in 5 Minutes)

There are lots of budget apps available to try. Many cost nothing, most cost just a few dollars, and some can cost $50 or more. Below are three of the best budgeting apps available for both Android and iOs devices.

Mint

If you are looking for an app that has been around for awhile and has had time to get all the kinks out, then Mint is the one for you. It has been available since 2007 and is now owned by Intuit. It's totally free. (See also: 8 Cool Mint Tools)

Mint is initially set up on a computer through their website. You will connect your bank, credit, and investment accounts there. Mint will then give you a three-month comprehensive view of your spending. It will sort spending into categories and suggest a budget for you. You will have the ability to make changes to the budget for places that you want to decrease spending and increase saving. Mint also offers advice on where you can save or improve your budget. (Here is where you will find ads that help pay for the service.)

The mobile app, which have been voted Best Finance App in the 1st Annual App Awards and TIME Magazine's 50 Best iPhone Apps of 2011, allows you to view your finances in real-time, make changes to information, and monitor your spending from your smartphone. The app is password protected, so if your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can feel comfortable that no one can access your financial information.

You Need A Budget

Another product that has been around for a while is You Need A Budget (YNAB). It costs you $60, unless you're a college student, in which case it's free. This cost will give you the desktop version of YNAB, the mobile app, and all updates for the current version of the software. Unfortunately, if the app goes into a new version (for example, YNAB 5.0), you will need to pay the $60 again. YNAB does offer a 34-day trial period to try out their software.

YNAB has proven to be very user-friendly and helpful with managing budgets. It also educates users on four basic but essential principles. These principles are the foundation to how YNAB works. Users are taught to assign a place for every dollar, save for unexpected expenses, deal with mistakes without stress, and live on last month's income. With these principles, a budget is easy to create and allows you to know exactly how much money you have to spend. (See also: Money Management Beyond the Budget)

The mobile app lets you to sync to your desktop software through the cloud, giving you easy access to your budget. You can enter transactions while you are on-the-go as well to keep your budget current.

Note that YNAB does not automatically sync with your bank, credit, and investment accounts. Users have to enter transactions manually or import from their accounts. YNAB's developers insist that manual transaction entry encourages users to have a closer understanding of where their money goes. It's also a good option if you're concerned about sharing your account sign-ins and passwords with an app.

Level Money

Want to know how much money you have to spend each month after all your bills are paid for so you can plan for extras? Level Money will do that for you. This free app connects to your accounts, and based off the previous month's income and spending, will tell you how much money you have to spend on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. When a transaction is updated into the system, Level Money will adjust your available amount accordingly.

Level is great for anyone who finds themselves short on money at the end of the month due to unnecessary spending. It's easy-to-use, offers many different ways to view your money through graphs, pie charts, and graphics, and has a great, sleek look. (See also: Sites and Apps That Help Track Your Spending)

Also Worth Mentioning...

There is one more app that looks promising but is too new and, as of yet, does not have many reviews. Budget Ease is one app that appears to be easy-to-use and effective at maintaining a budget on your mobile device. It is based on the envelope system, which categorizes all your money into envelopes.

One great aspect of Budget Ease is the ability to send a text to their system every time you spend money. You simply type in the name of the envelope, the amount you spent, and the store, and Budget Ease will text you back with your current balance. For example, if you spent $35 for gas at Shell, you would text "Gas $35 Shell." A moment later you will receive a reply telling you how much you have left in that envelope. This is a great way to keep track of your spending when you don't have access to Wi-Fi to use the app.

Budget Ease does have a monthly fee which ranges from about $5.50 a month to $7.

Whether you are struggling to pay off debt, trying to save for the future, or just want to know where your money goes each month, a budget is essential. These apps will help you keep your budget in place and allow you to improve your financial situation.

Do you use a budgeting app? Has it helped you stay on budget?

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Doug

I'm surprised that Mvelopes is not included in your list. I've been using it for years and it's an awesome envelope budgeting application. It is web-based but also includes a mobile app, it downloads transactions, and facilitates envelope sweeps and planned spending. Definitely keep in in mind.

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Erin

I tried Mint, but unfortunately it doesn't work well outside of the U.S.

I really like MoneyWiz. It's well-priced, syncs to the cloud, and is available cross-platform, which is important to my husband and I. Also, it does on-the-go currency conversions, which is important to me because I have accounts in U.S. dollars and my local currency. So whether I'm entering things on my Mac, my iPhone, or my husband's on his Android phone, we're always in touch with how much we've spent.

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Saver

HelloWallet is lightyears ahead of Mint and the other apps...

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Personally, I use Mint and another budgeting app. Mint provides me great automated expense tracking and data, while my budgeting app is what I use on a daily basis. I could see this getting cumbersome for others, but it works for me.