The Best Budgeting Apps for 2024

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The best free budgeting app is one that works for you and allows you to link your bank account to the budgeting app

The Best Budget Apps Include Linking Bank Accounts and Financial Accounts

When it comes to managing your finances, budgeting apps offer a convenient solution to track expenses and gain insights into your spending habits. While basic budget apps typically connect with your financial accounts and categorize expenses, many go above and beyond these features. After assessing app functionalities and user reviews, we’ve curated a list of top choices for you to consider.

All of these apps are available on the ios app store and the Google Play store. Most offer a free version or at least a trial.

Here are our top picks for the best budgeting apps:

  1. YNAB (You Need A Budget): Ideal for hands-on zero-based budgeting.
  2. Goodbudget: Known for hands-on envelope budgeting.
  3. EveryDollar: Offers simple zero-based budgeting.
  4. Empower Personal Wealth: Excellent for tracking wealth and spending.
  5. PocketGuard: Provides a simplified budgeting snapshot.
  6. Honeydue: Perfect for collaborative budgeting with a partner.

Learn more about creating a Spending Strategy.

There are a few great free budgeting apps available, but the best budgeting app is one you'll use

Our Methodology for Identifying the Top Budgeting Apps

In developing the list presented above, we conducted a thorough evaluation of budgeting apps, focusing on key functionalities and user-centric features. Our methodology involved considering apps that offer:

  1. Account Syncing Options:
    • Evaluation of apps that provide flexibility in syncing various financial accounts, allowing users to opt in or out of syncing as per their preference.
  2. Financial Planning Focus:
    • Preference for apps that prioritize proactive financial planning over solely tracking past transactions, empowering users to make informed decisions about their finances.
  3. Expense Categorization:
    • Assessment of apps that facilitate expense categorization, enabling users to gain insights into their spending patterns and effectively manage their budgets.
  4. Bill Tracking and Alerts:
    • Consideration of apps that offer bill tracking features and timely alerts for upcoming due dates, enhancing users’ ability to stay organized and avoid late payments.
  5. Partner Sharing Capabilities:
    • Inclusion of apps that allow users to securely share financial information with their partners, fostering transparency and collaboration in managing shared finances.
  6. Multi-Platform Access:
    • Evaluation of apps accessible across multiple platforms, including both mobile applications and desktop interfaces, ensuring seamless user experience and accessibility.

Additionally, we explored supplementary features considered as desirable, such as credit score monitoring, net worth tracking, investment portfolio management, and comprehensive help resources. Furthermore, we noted apps offering free or cost-effective pricing models to accommodate diverse user preferences and budgetary considerations.

YNAB: A Comprehensive Approach to Zero-Based Budgeting

Why We Recommend It: YNAB stands out for its proactive approach to financial planning, focusing on future-oriented budgeting rather than merely tracking past transactions. Utilizing the zero-based budgeting system, YNAB encourages users to allocate every dollar they earn toward specific categories, including spending, savings, and debt repayment. This intentional allocation of funds prompts users to become more mindful and deliberate with their financial decisions.

The app’s hands-on nature ensures that users actively engage in the budgeting process. YNAB offers extensive educational resources on its website, aiding users in navigating the learning curve associated with effective budgeting and app utilization. Additionally, YNAB provides seamless integration with various financial accounts, including checking, savings, credit cards, and loans, ensuring comprehensive financial management across multiple platforms, including smartphones, desktops, iPads, Apple Watch, and Alexa devices. By allowing you to link your bank accounts and with a generous free trial, we like YNAB as our budgeting app of choice.

Considerations: Commitment is essential when using YNAB, as its effectiveness relies on users’ active involvement in budget planning and management. Furthermore, YNAB’s pricing may be considered steep compared to other budgeting apps on the market.

Cost: YNAB offers two subscription options: $14.99 per month or $99 per year, with a free 34-day trial available for new users. Additionally, college students can access YNAB for free for up to a year, providing an opportunity for educational budgeting without financial burden.

Budgeting tools are only as good as how much you use them. Many budgeting apps don't work for everyone.

Goodbudget: Embrace Envelope Budgeting for Effective Financial Planning

Why We Recommend It: Goodbudget prioritizes proactive financial planning over retroactive transaction tracking, making it an ideal choice for users focused on budgeting ahead. The app adopts the envelope budgeting system, where users allocate their monthly income into distinct spending categories, known as envelopes. This method encourages users to allocate funds consciously, ensuring better control and management of finances.

Unlike some budgeting apps, Goodbudget does not automatically connect to users’ bank accounts. Instead, users manually input their account balances, cash amounts, debts, and income, enabling a more hands-on approach to budgeting. The app is accessible across both mobile and web platforms, with a wealth of informative articles and videos available to assist users in maximizing its functionalities.

Goodbudget offers a free version with limited features, including one account, two devices, and a restricted number of envelopes. For users seeking enhanced capabilities, Goodbudget Plus provides unlimited envelopes and accounts, support for up to five devices, and additional perks.

Considerations: One drawback of Goodbudget is the manual entry required for every expense, as it does not sync with financial accounts. Users who prefer automated tracking may find this aspect cumbersome and may not fully utilize the app’s potential.

Cost: Goodbudget offers a free version with limited features. Goodbudget Plus, offering enhanced functionalities, is available for $8 per month or $70 per year.

Learn more about creating a Spending Strategy.

A good budgeting app will allow you to see your cash flow, investment accounts, upcoming bills, savings goals, and track spending.

EveryDollar, for a simple zero-based budgeting app

Why we recommend it: This apps offers a zero-based budgeting framework that’s simpler (and perhaps easier to manage) than YNAB.

Let’s start with the straightforward free version of EveryDollar. You don’t sync accounts, but rather manually enter incoming and outgoing money throughout the month. You also categorize line items in your budget and set reminders for bill payments.

The premium, paid version of EveryDollar includes those features but also allows you to connect with your bank account. Your transactions automatically appear in the app, which also provides custom reports and recommendations based on your habits. You can also connect your saving and investing accounts.

Why you may want to think twice: The free version of EveryDollar is pretty bare-bones, and the premium version is pretty pricey. Also, the app’s website offers few resources to help you understand how to use the app before signing up for a trial.

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

Everyone's financial goals are different, so everyone will have a different choice of budgeting software

Empower Personal Dashboard, for tracking wealth and spending

Why we recommend it: Empower Personal Dashboard, formerly Personal Capital, is primarily an investment tool, but 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 each category represents.

Empower also serves up a net worth and portfolio tracker. The app can be accessed through both phone and desktop.

Why you may want to think twice: If your goal is to plan out your spending and saving, you may want to go another route. This app’s budgeting features helped it make the list, but its investment tools are what make it unique. Other apps have more in-the-weeds budgeting capabilities.

A budgeting app that works for you will allow you to keep track of where you're spending money by allowing you to link bank accounts

PocketGuard, for a simplified budgeting snapshot

Why we recommend it: PocketGuard’s catalog of features isn’t the most robust on our list, but that’s part of why we like it. The app is big on simplifying.

You can connect your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments and track bills. With that intel, the app shows how much you have left to spend after setting aside funds for necessities, bills and goals.

PocketGuard also tracks your net worth and gives you the option to not link your accounts and instead track your finances manually. The paid version, PocketGuard Plus, offers a debt payoff plan, the option to export your transactions and other features.

Why you may want to think twice: This app does a lot of work for you. That’s good for a mostly hands-off experience, but less so if you want to plan for your money. Also, user reviews in Google Play have declined in the past year from 4.4 to 3.7.

Cost: Basic PocketGuard is free. PocketGuard Plus is $7.99 per month, $34.99 per year or $79.99 for a lifetime purchase.

A free budget app may be enough for you to track your spending and hit your savings goals

Honeydue: Streamlined Budgeting for Couples

Why We Recommend It: Honeydue is tailor-made for couples seeking to manage their finances collaboratively within a single app. With Honeydue, both partners can sync their bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and investments, providing a comprehensive overview of their financial landscape. Users have the flexibility to choose the level of financial information they share with their significant other, ensuring transparency while respecting individual privacy preferences.

This free budgeting app simplifies expense tracking by automatically categorizing transactions, though users can also create custom categories as needed. Couples can establish monthly spending limits for each category, enabling proactive budget management. Additionally, Honeydue offers bill reminders and facilitates communication between partners through its chat feature, complete with emojis for added fun and expressiveness.

Considerations: Honeydue’s focus is primarily on reviewing past transactions and fostering financial transparency between partners, rather than proactive expense planning. Furthermore, recent Google Play ratings suggest a decline in user satisfaction over time.

Cost: Honeydue is available for free, making it an accessible option for couples seeking to streamline their budgeting process and enhance financial communication.

Most budgeting apps allow you to link credit accounts and joint accounts

Learn more about creating a Spending Strategy.

Which Budgeting App is right for you?

In today’s fast-paced world, managing personal finances has become more accessible thanks to budgeting apps. These technological solutions offer features to help users gain better control over their finances, from tracking expenses to planning for goals.

Among standout options, YNAB emerges as a beacon of empowerment through its zero-based budgeting approach, instilling purpose in financial decisions. Goodbudget embraces envelope budgeting, providing a tactile method for allocating funds. Honeydue facilitates joint financial management between couples, fostering shared understanding.

The ideal budgeting app varies depending on preferences, financial circumstances, and aspirations. Whether seeking comprehensive financial planning tools or intuitive expense tracking, a perfect fit exists among the curated selection of apps.

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