I’m a huge fan of using budget apps to track spending and planning for the future. After all, if you don’t know how much money you spend each month, you might be losing money.
Or…not maximizing the spending power of your hard-earned money.
I’ve been using the best financial budget apps to monitor my spending since I was in college. Logging my expenses and creating savings goals has helped me When you have little extra income to spare, having a legit money plan is crucial.
Reading money books is one way to improve the way you handle money. But, easy budgeting apps help you put your new knowledge to use.
Best Financial Budget Apps of 2021
We all live our lives differently, so these budget apps will all take a slightly different approach and layout to helping you manage money better.
I’m not going to tell every person to either drive a Ford. They make good vehicles, but they aren’t the best vehicle for every driver. It’s the same thing with these apps.
You may want a free app. Or, you may be willing to spend a few dollars to enjoy one without ads or more features.
Cost: $6.99/month or $83.99 annually
Free trial period: 34 days
Best for: Making a first-time budget
After I changed careers and took a 50% pay cut, my wife and I had to learn how to live on a smaller income. Thankfully, we had time to practice when we still earned a larger income. But, when you don’t have the financial safety net, making money decisions seems harder.
So, we used YNAB (You Need A Budget) to adjust to a simpler lifestyle. I also recommend this app if you need some serious help with getting your spending under control or figuring out how to make ends meet.
Although you have to pay to use YNAB, it’s not outrageously priced. There’s also a 34-day free trial which is very generous. And, if you achieve their goal of using last month’s paycheck to pay this month’s bills, it’s money well-spent.
What I like about YNAB is their exhaustive budgeting tools. This is intimidating at first, but no pain=no gain. They turn over every stone and ask you how much money you spend on every potential expense. Plus, how much you plan on spending in the near future on expenses like car repairs or vacation.
- Imports bank account transactions
- Syncs with multiple multiple devices
- Create a budget step-by-step
- 34-day free trial
- More expensive than other budget apps
- Budget can be too complex for some
Cost: $79 per year
Free trial period: 30 days
Best for: Budget spreadsheets
If you LOVE spreadsheets, say no more. Tiller is your best option. Their spreadsheets automatically import your banking data. One reasons why I stopped using my Excel spreadsheet years ago is because I had to manually input my transactions. This wasn’t a big deal as a bachelor with lots a free time. But now that I have a family of my own…
You can access the Tiller Spreadsheets via Google Sheets, which is free to use. An Excel plugin is reportedly in the works.
You can build your own template or use a premade template. Some of the templates include:
- Monthly Budget
- Debt Snowball
- Weekly Expenses
You can try one or several budgeting styles to see which one works best for you.
- Auto-imports bank transactions
- Multiple budget strategies
- Works in Google Sheets
- 30-day free trial
- Spreadsheet budgets can be complicated
- Doesn’t track investments
- Annual fee
Cost: Free or $129.99 per year
Free trial period: 14 days
Best for: Envelope budgets
I’m a huge fan of following Dave Ramsey for getting out of debt. I have several family friends that got out of debt because of his advice and the local Financial Peace seminars.
Mr. Ramsey is also making the envelope budgeting system very popular. If you use cash, you can stuff envelopes of cash monthly. But if you pay with plastic or do online bill pay, EveryDollar lets you make digital envelopes.
The free version of EveryDollar lets you add your monthly income and budget monthly expenses by category. However, you will need to manually input your spending.
Upgrading to Ramsey+ costs $129.99 per year. This annual cost is higher than most budget apps but you get several benefits.
Ramsey+ perks include:
- EveryDollar Plus budgeting app
- Automatically inputs bank transactions
- Custom reports for spending and income
- Unlimited online access to FinancialPeace
- Stream budget, spending and investing classes
- Track your progress with Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps
Upgrading can be worth it if you also want to take Dave’s Financial Peace money classes. The auto-syncing with your bank accounts is a convenient feature too.
- Free budget app version
- Ramsey+ provides unlimited online access to FinancialPeace
- Envelope budgeting system
- Free version of EveryDollar doesn’t auto-input bank activity
- Ramsey+ costs $129.99 per year
Best for: Free budgeting app
After trying many free budgeting apps, Mint is the best overall for many. You can create a basic basic monthly budget, auto-import bank transactions and track investment performance.
I must say that Mint isn’t perfect. For example, I wish you could manually input transactions for bank accounts that don’t link. Not all bank accounts link.
Also, Mint offers a good budget that helps you plan monthly expenses. However, it may not be strong enough if you need serious money help. But if you already have a grasp on living within your means, Mint makes simple budgeting easy.
Consider Mint if you don’t like budgeting but know that having a spending plan is essential.
- Syncs to bank accounts
- Free monthly budget
- Create savings goals
- Can’t input manual transactions
- Budget is too basic for some
Cost: $9 monthly or $60 annually
Free trial period: 14 days
Best for: Retirement planning
Are you afraid of outliving your retirement fund? OnTrajectory is possibly one of the most powerful personal budgeting software.
If you already have a monthly budget in place, you can use OnTrajectory to track your investment performance. You can also track your spending and run Monte Carlo simulations.
You can see how modifying your net worth, income or expenses adjusts how many years your nest egg will last. OnTrajectory also lets you enter different annual investment rates of return and inflation rates to see what your nest egg can look like in several decades.
- Simulate retirement account balance
- Test retirement and investment scenarios
- Track long-term money goals
- No monthly budgeting feature
- 14-day free trial is shorter than some budgeting apps
6. Personal Capital
Best for: Tracking net worth
If you think having a line-item budget is for the birds, try Personal Capital. This is the app I use now because our expenses are pretty stable each month. I focus more on building long-term net worth and tracking our investment performance.
Personal Capital isn’t a pure budgeting app. You should use Personal Capital if you already have the money management basics down such as knowing how much you spend on groceries, insurance and other bills.
Instead, use Personal Capital to track your net worth, money goals and investment performance.
You can use Personal Capital to track spending, make savings goals, and an investment portfolio checkup. I also use the investing checkup to make sure my portfolio is properly diversified since my employer accounts are at a different brokerage than my personal accounts. Tracking my investments in one place helps keep life simple.
- Free net worth tracker
- Tracks investment performance and analyzes fund fees
- It’s free
- No in-depth monthly budget
- Some users report account linking problems
The Best Budget App For You
Here’s a quick rundown of what budget app best fits your budgeting style:
- Assigning Spending Limits to Monthly Expenses (i.e. Budgeting): YNAB or Mint
- Spreadsheet Budgets: Tiller
- Tracking Net Worth and Investing Performance: Personal Capital
- Retirement planning: OnTrajectory
There are lots of household budget apps that you can try. Whether you want to make a basic budget or need help making long-term money goals, one of these apps can help you.
What’s the most important feature for a budgeting app? What budgeting apps do you use already? Which of these apps are you going to try? Leave a comment and let us know.