• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

The 10 best budgeting apps for 2024

Byadmin

Feb 26, 2024 #Apps, #Budgeting

Building long-term wealth starts with knowing where your dollars are going on a daily basis and how they’re helping you move closer toward your long-term goals. One way to do that: creating and maintaining a budget. 

If the “b” word makes you shudder, just remember: A budget shouldn’t be restrictive. It should help you allocate the money you have flowing into your account each month into the spending categories that matter most to you now and in the future. If you need a little help getting organized and creating a budget, a budgeting app will be your best friend. 

The Fortune RecommendsTM editorial team reviewed more than a dozen budgeting apps and weighed minimum annual costs, mobile app ratings, security features, account integration capabilities, and more.

Our 10 top picks*

*Last updated February 23, 2024. Read our full methodology here.

The 10 best budgeting apps of February 2024

There are several types of budgeting strategies and tools you can use to help get your financial house in order. Creating a budget and using an app to keep you accountable for your spending and saving goals is key to hitting all of your long-term financial goals.

Rocket Money

Great for: those who are looking to cut down on their monthly costs






Cost: $4–$12 per month for premium version
Average app rating: 4.4
Account syncing capabilities: Yes


Why we like it:

Rocket Money allows users to create a budget that monitors spending automatically, separates transactions into spending categories, sends notifications about upcoming charges or a low balance, and more. The app also offers bank-level security with 256-bit encryption to keep your personal data safe. Rocket Money is free to use, although there are optional services, such as bill negotiation, that you can opt in to for an extra cost ranging from $4 to $12 monthly. 

The good news: Using the negotiation service add-on to cut down on your monthly spending could help you cover the cost of a premium membership as it charges a sliding scale based on the percentage of money they save you. If your mortgage is serviced by Rocket Mortgage, you get full access to Rocket Money Premium for free.

Simplifi

Great for: those who want a comprehensive overview of their finances, not just their monthly spending






Cost: $47.88 billed annually
Average app rating: 3.35
Account syncing capabilities: Yes


Why we like it:

Simplifi offers a combined approach to managing your finances with a monthly budgeting system as well as a look into your debt repayment, investments, tax planning, and organizing personal and business expenses. While it did have a lower app rating than some of the other budgeting apps on our list, it does offer a desktop version with a more optimized experience. Simplifi also prioritizes keeping your personal information safe with 256-bit encryption.

YNAB (You Need a Budget)

Great for: those who love analytics and zero-based budgeting






Cost: $14.99 monthly or $98.99 annually
Average app rating: 4.7
Account syncing capabilities: Yes


Why we like it:

YNAB requires you to assign every incoming dollar to a “job” where it will be spent later. But it’s not restrictive; if you want to have money for leisure and frivolous spending, as long as you have money available in other categories you can reassign and spend it. It’s got quite a bit of a learning curve but, once you’ve taken and applied what’s taught in its free workshops, upkeep takes less than an hour a week. This is because you can turn on auto-import, which syncs transactions from your bank(s) and categorizes them for you. 

If there is anything YNAB isn’t sure how to label, you can categorize it yourself on the go and even add emojis to your category names for some fun personalization. There’s no free version unless you’re a student; users with an email ending in .edu may qualify for a free account.

Monarch Money

Great for: financial advisors






Cost: $14.99 monthly or $99.99 annually
Average app rating: 4.4
Account syncing capabilities: Yes


Why we like it:

The dashboard of Monarch Money displays a clear, concise view of a user’s accounts in one location and offers different views for cash flow, planning, and goal-setting. An investment tracker is built in to make tracking your portfolio a painless process, including historical data analysis and charting tools.

Financial advisors may enjoy Monarch for its collaboration tools, which enable the advisor to track a client’s transactions, investments, and more from the same interface. Both the advisor and the client can access the data at any time and export it as a CSV if the built-in interface doesn’t offer the desired tools for data manipulation. It is available on the web, iOS, or Android.

Buddy

Great for: those who often split the bill with friends






Cost: $9.99 monthly or $49.99 annually
Average app rating: 4.7
Account syncing capabilities: Yes


Why we like it:

Buddy made our list by making it easier to manage budgets and shared costs among loved ones or friends. Apart from personal expense tracking and customizable budgets, Buddy users can also split larger costs among friends and make sure everyone pays their fair share. The product did lose a few points due to exclusivity; it does not offer a desktop version and is only available via iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad.

Zeta

Great for: couples and families who want to merge their finances






Cost: $6.99 per month for premium version
Average app rating: 4.2
Account syncing capabilities: Yes


Why we like it:

Zeta offers several features that make it an ideal app for budgeting with others in your household. The app offers both personal and joint accounts that allow you to pay bills, save for goals, and track shared expenses, and offers in-app messaging to communicate with your partner or other members of your family about your budget. Zeta has an average mobile app rating of 4.2 and also offers two-factor authentication (2FA) and data encryption to keep your data extra safe.

Wally

Great for: those who like to keep an eye on their progress






Cost: $8.99 monthly or $39.99 annually
Average app rating: 3.05
Account syncing capabilities: Yes


Why we like it:

Wally took a spot on our list for giving users the opportunity to create a free budget and have access to progress trackers as they work toward hitting their financial goals. Users can also sync their accounts with other members of their households to give everyone an overview of their spending habits and goals. Wally may also be an ideal app for those who spend time abroad. The app allows you to sync and manage foreign bank accounts across 70 countries.

PocketGuard

Great for: users who are working on paying off debt






Cost: $12.99 monthly or $74.99 annually
Average app rating: 4.2
Account syncing capabilities: Yes


Why we like it:

PocketGuard scored a spot on our list for its debt payoff tools. With PocketGuard, users can set bill reminders, set fee alerts, create savings goals, and more. What’s more—with PocketGuard’s personalized debt payoff plan, users can add all of their debt balances and interest rates to the app, and the platform will determine the most effective debt payoff strategy for you and create a repayment schedule. PocketGuard offers a desktop version for users who prefer to budget on their computers as well as Touch ID on mobile for extra security.

While at one time PocketGuard offered a lifetime subscription, it seems this option has been discontinued. As of February 2024, the only premium subscription options on both the website and mobile app are for monthly or annual payment plans.

EveryDollar

Great for: those who are creating a budget for the first time






Cost: $12.99 monthly or $79.99 annually
Average app rating: 4.05
Account syncing capabilities: Yes


Why we like it:

EveryDollar is a straightforward, easy-to-use budgeting app that allows users to create a customizable budget and set savings goals. Users can opt to upgrade to a premium account which comes with additional benefits, such as bank connectivity, paycheck planning, group financial coaching, custom budget reports, smart tracking recommendations, and more. One downside: while this platform offers mobile and desktop platforms, EveryDollar notes that users should budget from their computer for the best-quality experience.

Oportun

Great for: users who want a hands-off approach to saving






Cost: $5 monthly
Average app rating: 4.7
Account syncing capabilities: Yes


Why we like it:

With Oportun, you link an external bank account to the app, and then it uses an algorithm to automatically set aside small amounts of money for your personalized savings goals.  You can also choose from pre-existing savings goals in the app—like building a nest egg or creating a rainy day fund—and determine how much you want to save and by when. When Oportun withdraws money from your bank accounts and deposits money towards your savings in the app, that money is FDIC-insured through a partner bank: Pathward. However, you won’t earn interest on your savings in the app, which makes it less lucrative than manually setting aside money in a high-yield savings account.

When it comes to security, Oportun uses 256-bit encryption and the fintech company Plaid to help you connect your external accounts. While Oportun offers a feature known as low balance protection, which is intended to ensure your linked accounts aren’t overdrafted, it’s gotten in hot water with the CFPB in the past for overdrafting customers’ accounts anyway. The company has since settled the issue after an investigation.

Benefits of budgeting apps

A budgeting app can help you pay off debt, get your finances in order, and manage your spending. However, they’re not for everyone. 

Pros

  • Helps you plan goals and reduce your debt.
  • Organizes your finances.
  • Encourages disciplined spending through alerts and budget limits.
  • Many apps offer additional features, such as investment tracking and bill negotiation.
  • Lets you know where you’re spending your money and provides valuable insights into your spending habits.

Cons

  • Potential privacy concerns in the event of a data breach.
  • Subscription fees can add up.
  • Might not suit all personality types, such as those who prefer manual or traditional budgeting methods.
  • More difficult to use when you have irregular income or unconventional financial situations.
  • Some apps can be overwhelming and provide too much data. 

How to choose the best budgeting app

When choosing a budgeting app, you’ll want to think about the features that are most important to you and will serve you long-term. The best budgeting app and strategy will be the ones you can stick to and use consistently to keep yourself accountable for your goals. To help narrow down your options, consider the following: 

Costs

There are many free budgeting apps available, as well as free versions of apps with premium subscriptions. When you’re comparing different budgeting apps, pay close attention to the pricing to determine whether the features offered by the app align with what you’re looking for and if these extra perks justify the cost of a monthly or yearly membership. 

Syncing

Many budgeting apps allow you to sync your financial accounts so that you don’t have to manually enter transactions and account balances. This saves you time and ensures that the information in your budget is as accurate and up-to-date as possible. Some apps, such as YNAB, have auto-sync that categorizes transactions for you automatically.

App/desktop experience

If you plan to budget solely from your smartphone, take some time to comb through app reviews to see if other users have reported any glitches or potential issues while using the app. You want to aim to have the most seamless experience possible. 

Personalization and sharing

Budgets are not one-size-fits-all. Your spending habits are unique, and having the flexibility to create your own categories and then give other members within your household a birds’-eye view of your budget can help you and your loved ones pinpoint where you need to rein in your spending and how much progress you’re making in other areas. 

Security

When you’re handing over all your financial data to an app, it’s important that data is protected. Look for military-grade encryption, such as 256-bit. Multifactor authentication adds another layer of security by requiring a password plus another method of authentication to log into your account, such as facial recognition or a passcode sent to your mobile or email.

How to create a budget

When you want to create a sustainable budget that you’ll actually stick to, there are a few things you need to figure out first:

  • What’s your budget for? If you don’t know your destination or goals, you’re far likelier to fall off track.
  • Understand your post-tax income: This is what you’ve got to work with each paycheck. 
  • Figure out your monthly expenses: It helps if you have access to several months’ worth of data.
  • Compare this against your income to see what’s left to work with: Having this info will let you know how much you’re able to save.
  • Trim the fat: If your income is less than you’re spending each pay period, you now need to figure out where you can cut the excess.
  • Increase your income: If you have very little fat in your spending, your only other alternative is to increase what you take home. 
  • Maintain your budget: As your income and spending habits change, it’s important to regularly reassess your budget.

4 budget strategies to try

What works for one person may not work well for another thanks to different personality types, income situations, and spending habits. Here are a few options to consider:

  • 50/30/20 budget: This means you’re assigning 50% of your income to essentials, 30% for discretionary spending, and 20% to savings and debt repayment.
  • Zero-based budgeting: Every dollar you earn is given a job, so your income minus your expenses is always zero. 
  • Envelope system: If you have a habit of overspending because you just swipe your card, pull out cash, and allocate it to specific envelopes allocated for each budget. Once the envelope is empty, you can’t spend in that category anymore, unless you pull from one of your discretionary spending envelopes.
  • Pay-yourself-first: This means you’re saving a portion of your income as soon as it comes in and before you pay any bills or other expenses. This way, should you ever have something come up, you’ve got an emergency fund set up. 

Alternatives to budgeting apps 

If budgeting apps aren’t your thing you might consider more traditional approaches, such as the envelope method or a budgeting spreadsheet. The caveat is that budgeting spreadsheets take time to build out, must be updated manually, and may be harder to access on the go. Still, if you’re diligent about keeping your information updated and don’t necessarily need to peek at your budget daily, this could be a viable option. 

Another option is to go the envelope budgeting route, which requires that you designate one envelope for all of your spending categories and add a certain amount of cash into each envelope based on how much you want to allow yourself to spend within that category for the month. This can be incredibly effective, but it does require that you carry around cash (which may not be ideal for online shopping or shopping at stores that don’t accept cash. However, you may be able to alter this method to make it more digital-friendly by creating separate subaccounts for your spending categories. 

Frequently asked questions

Why should I create a budget?

A budget is a great idea for a lot of reasons. It helps you control your spending, save for the future, manage your income, and prepare for emergencies. With a budget, you can avoid overspending and accumulating debt. 

What is the best budgeting app?

The best budgeting app is the one you’ll actually use. Consider not only your personality type but also what your goals are. If you are super analytical and love to have access to every data point possible, something like YNAB is an excellent choice. But if you’re the type of person who gets overwhelmed with too much information, it could be a frustrating choice for you, and you might find more success with a budget like 50/30/20 instead, which gives more of a macro perspective than a micro one.

Is there a free budgeting app?

There are countless budgeting apps available for free download on the App Store and Google Play. However, account features vary from platform to platform, and some basic or free versions of budgeting apps have limited capabilities. 

Are budgeting apps safe?

Budgeting apps all take different approaches to protecting your data and privacy. To vet whether your information is safe properly, take some time to read the app’s privacy and security terms and determine whether the app offers any kind of multifactor authentication (MFA) or data encryption. 

What information do I need to create a budget?

This will depend on how detailed you want your budget to be but start by having all of your most recent bank statements on hand, access to your credit card statements, loan statements, pay stubs, and regular household bills.

Our methodology 

The Fortune RecommendsTM team compared more than 15 budgeting apps to help you find the best platform for your needs. To come up with our final list, we ranked the best apps and exchanges in the following categories and weighted each category as outlined in the percentages below:

  • Annual cost (15%): Apps that with a lower membership cost or discounts available ranked higher on our list. 
  • Mobile app availability and rating (15%): We calculated the average mobile application rating for each budgeting app using ratings from the App Store and Google Play. We rewarded apps that had a higher average mobile application rating, and deducted points if an app was iOS- or Android-exclusive.
  • Security or privacy features (10%): Budgeting apps that offered multi-factor identification, have an encrypted network, or offered other security features were awarded extra points. 
  • Desktop version (5%): Budgeting apps that offered desktop or browser versions of their software (in addition to the mobile platform) for users who prefer the option to budget from their computers received a higher score. 
  • Account integration capabilities (25%): Budgeting apps that allow users to link bank accounts, credit cards, or other financial accounts within the app received an additional point. 
  • Categorized expenses (20%): We favored apps that categorized users’ expenses into different spending categories within the app and allowed users to personalize their spending categories. 
  • Sharing capabilities (10%): Budgeting apps that allowed users to add multiple users to the same budget earned an additional point. 

We think that the best apps are free or low-cost, have higher app ratings, allow users to budget from various devices, link their financial accounts, and securely share their budget with others. The features, costs, and fees associated with these apps are subject to change.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *