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, somebody could burn your dollars and you may never realize. And, you’re probably worrying about money for no good reason.
I’ve been using the best 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, budget apps help you put your new knowledge to use.
Best Budget Apps of 2019
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.
Never heard of Stratus before?
This might possibly be the best budget app of 2019. Right now, you can use the beta mode to make a budget and track your spending. In the 1st quarter of 2019, they will launch more budgeting and investing tools that should be very similar to Personal Capital (the best budget app for investing and basic spend tracking).
Right now, Stratus is 100% free and focuses on people who really haven’t thought much about money. What I like about Stratus is they link to small banks and credit unions. This is my litmus test for trying new budgeting apps because we bank at a small, local credit union.
After linking your bank accounts, debit/credit cards, and loan accounts, you can assign each transaction a spending category.
Another reason I like Stratus is that they don’t have any obnoxious ads or product placements like Mint that tend to be distracting.
Cost: $6.99/month or $83.99 annually
After I changed careers and took a 50% pay cut, I 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. 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.
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. If you need help deciding how much you need to spend groceries, gas, or save for vacation, use another suggestion first. But when you have control of your spending, but want a free way to track your spending to make sure you don’t overspend some months, Personal Capital is a real gem.
You can use Personal Capital to track spending, make savings goals, and an investing 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.
Cost: Free, $9.95 per month, or $19.95 per month
Another app you might try is PocketSmith. Although you can get a free version, you’re better off getting the premium plan that costs $9.95 per month so you can link 10 accounts and automatically import your transactions. You can also make 10 year’s projections and unlimited budgets.
Although I recommend starting with a paid plan, you might try the free plan first to see if your bank accounts link. Remember that litmus test I do? Well, our small credit union doesn’t populate as one of the linking partners.
Also, PocketSmith seems to have more of a learning curve than other budget apps. If it wasn’t for these two “cons” it would rank higher on the list.
Cost: $59 per year
If you LOVE spreadsheets, say no more. Tiller is your best option. Their spreadsheets automatically import your banking data. And, you can access them via Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
You can build your own template or use a premade template. Some of the templates include:
- Monthly Budget
- Debt Snowball
- Weekly Expenses
The Best Budget App For You
Here’s a quick rundown of what budget app best fits your budgeting style:
- Tracking Spending and Investing Performance: Personal Capital
- Assigning Spending Limits to Monthly Expenses (i.e. Budgeting): Stratus or YNAB
- Spreadsheet Budgets: Tiller