If 2022 is the year that you take control of your finances, a budgeting app may be just the thing you need to help you reach your goals. Scrolling through your banking app or staring at your credit card bill just won’t cut it when it’s time to get proactive about your finances. You might have spreadsheets and notebooks full of your financial plans, but if you feel like they’re not cutting it, it may be time to download a budgeting appl
Why You Need a Budgeting App
The Internet has made our lives more convenient in so many ways. It’s easier to order takeout, join a hobby group, keep up with friends and family… and manage your finances.
For decades now, people have entered their income and expenses into a spreadsheet to keep track of their spending. They consistently enter in those numbers to keep them on track to meet their long-term financial goals.
While the spreadsheet method probably does work very well for some people, not everyone has the self-discipline to actually use it– especially if you’re just starting out managing your own finances.
What Budgeting Apps Do
That’s where budgeting apps come in! A budgeting app can help you track your bills, analyze your spending, identify your financial goals, and work towards reaching them. These apps can do what a spreadsheet does automatically without the need to type in any numbers and much more.
However, not all budgeting apps are designed the same or have the same purpose. Some apps are geared specifically towards helping you understand your past spending. Others are designed to help you take control of your spending from the moment your paycheck hits your account.
There are also some apps that help you budget, but they’re primarily focused on passive investing and wealth management. Others will help you budget based on an envelope system. You can choose an app that’s either hands-on or hands-off, depending on how much you want to be involved in the process.
What Budgeting Apps Can’t Do
At the end of the day, budgeting apps can’t control your spending. An app can’t stop you from swiping your card at Target or from making yet another online purchase. Controlling your spending is up to you. But, apps can help you know exactly how much you need to cut your spending by.
Another perk is that the paid versions of some budgeting apps may be able to help you reduce your monthly recurring fees. They will negotiate the lower price for you, which is a really nice perk!
However, budgeting apps can give you all the information you need to make better decisions. They can help you understand exactly where your money is going and empower you to make different choices in the future.
Budgeting Apps and Security
If you’re like me, you’re probably worried about the security risks that some of these budgeting apps pose for your data. After all, the data that you definitely don’t want to be leaked is your bank account information, right? And that’s exactly what these budgeting apps need access to in order to function.
Fortunately, almost all budgeting apps use the same security measures that banks and trading firms do. However, it’s important to remember to never re-use passwords, never click on suspicious links, and change your password frequently. Practicing good “cyber hygiene” can help keep your accounts safe.
Now let’s dig into what the different budgeting apps offer.
EveryDollar is simple, quick, and easy to use. If those qualities are your priorities, then you might want to test out the free version to see if the app meets all of your other budgeting needs. EveryDollar is a Dave Ramsey product, so fans of the finance guru will be happy to see his principles at work in this app.
Before you hit that download button, it’s important to know that the free version does not include a connection to your bank. You’ll be manually entering in your deposits and debits if you choose EveryDollar. However, upgrading to the paid version will allow you to sync with your bank. At $10 a month, the price of this app’s paid version is a little steep. But if you’re a fan of Dave Ramsey and you need to focus on budgeting every dollar, then it could be the app for you.
Do you use cash often? Or is security one of your top concerns? If so, then think about trying out Goodbudget. According to Nerd Wallet, “This app doesn’t connect your bank accounts. You manually add account balances (that you can pull from your bank’s website), as well as cash amounts, debts and income. Then you assign money toward envelopes.”
The envelope system has been a popular method of budgeting for a while, and it’s easy to see why. You make an envelope for all of your different budgeting categories, which you choose. Do you want to save for a fancy date night? Are you hoping to buy a new car soon? Goodbudget lets you make those envelopes and plan for your goals. You can sync with your spouse, too! The free plan allows you to have 10 regular envelopes, then 10 more envelopes, 1 account, 2 devices, and 1 year of history. At $8 a month, the premium plan gives you unlimited envelopes, unlimited accounts, 5 devices, and 7 years of history.
You Need a Budget
The You Need a Budget (YNAB) system uses the four-rule method, which begins by assigning every dollar a job. It’s packed with features like bank synchronization, goal tracking, a loan calculator, spending and net worth reports, smart categorization, bank-grade security, and more.
It’s important to know that you do have to pay for these features. There is no free version of YNAB. You can try out the app for 34 days (without putting in your credit card number, which is unusual and awesome for a trial), and then you’ll pay either $15 a month or $100 a year.
If you decide to commit, you’ll likely see serious savings. According to the company, new budgeters save on average $600 in the first two months and more than $6,000 in their first year.
PocketGuard has won an award for being the best money app for college students. There’s a free and a paid version of this app, and the paid version includes a debt payoff plan, tracking cash, and more features. The “In My Pocket” feature shows you exactly how much you can save or spend after you’ve put aside enough to cover your bills, budgets, and goals.
According to CNN, “The app automatically categorizes your transactions, but you can edit the category for any transaction if the system gets it wrong. However, in our testing, PocketGuard’s categorizations were pretty accurate.”
This budgeting app has been around and popular for a while now. It’s one of the most-downloaded personal finance apps for a reason. You can track your cash flow, negotiate your bills, and better understand your spending through money spotlights. It’s simple and easy to use, so it’s a great app if you’re first starting out.
However, the free version of the app contains ads, which can be distracting while you’re trying to focus on budgeting. Luckily, you can go ad-free for $1 a month, and the full paid version only costs $5 a month, which is a great value for all the features you’ll get.
Mint Premium includes features that help you learn about your money’s growth potential, help manage subscriptions, and daily updates on your trends.
If you’re interested in a detailed look at your combined finances with your partner, then Honeydue could be the best app for you. There are three main displays individual, all, or joint. You can sort your balances, bills, and budget by each of these three displays.
The app is free and allows you to track all of your accounts, coordinate your bills, and even chat with your partner in the app. But because the app is free, there will be some insistent encouragement to sign up for Honeydue’s main product, which is the Honeydue joint bank account.
The main advantage of Honeydue is that it allows you to closely coordinate with your partner about the day-to-day and the long-term spending in your life together.
Before you hit download on any of these budgeting apps, make sure you take a look at the app’s preview in your app store. You’ll spend a lot of time looking at this app in particular, so you want to make sure that you enjoy the user interface and don’t find it clunky.
Do none of these apps sound like the right fit for you? Other budgeting apps that come recommended include Mvelopes, Personal Capital, Albert, Wally, and Digit. Remember that no matter what app you sign for – because many of these apps link directly to your bank account – be smart about your password.
Regardless of which app you choose, taking a closer look at your spending will help you take control of your finances. Being aware and consistent will pay off!
Read More: Best Budgeting Apps for Couples