• Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

The Best Personal Finance Software for 2023

The Best Accounting Deals This Week*

*Deals are selected by our commerce team

Between COVID, inflation, and the housing market fluctuations, the last three years have left many of us uneasy about our finances because we don’t know what might be around the corner. So, knowing where you stand with your money—your income, expenses, budget, investments, and credit score—is essential. If you commit to using personal finance software, it can keep you up to date with all of that and potentially help you get out of debt. Many apps are free, and the rest cost at most a few dollars a month.

Below, we tell you about the best personal finance apps. Click through for an in-depth review of each app, and get advice on how to choose the right personal finance software toward the end of this article.


Our Experts Have Tested 18 Products in the Personal Finance Category in the Past Year
Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. See how we test.

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

Why We Picked It

Simplifi by Quicken has only been around for a few years, but we’ve been impressed by how fast it has grown into an excellent personal finance website. A concise and helpful dashboard gives you a good overview of your finances. Innovative views of your data (watchlists, spending plans, and reports) keep you in constant sync with your finances. An exceptional user experience makes it a pleasure to use.

Who It’s For

Though the makers of Quicken developed it, Simplifi is not “Quicken-lite.” This app is designed for a younger or less demanding demographic who wants to track financial accounts, keep an eye on day-to-day spending, and work toward savings goals—without spending hours poring over charts, lists, and reports.

PROS

  • Exceptional user experience with a great dashboard
  • Excellent transaction management
  • Flexible budgeting tools
  • Great reports

CONS

  • Modest subscription fee
  • No credit score included

SPECS

Free Version
Free Credit Report/Score
Web Interface
Income/Expense Tracking
iOS App
Android App

Learn More

Simplifi Review

Quicken Deluxe

Best for Micromanaging Finances

Why We Picked It

Quicken has been helping people track their income and expenses for decades. It’s evolved into the most feature-rich personal finance application available today. Quicken Deluxe for Windows is desktop software with a companion app that shows you the financial information you need while away from your computer. The software earns its annual subscription fee by supporting every element of personal finance, including detailed account management, budgeting, bills, and investing.

Who It’s For

Quicken Deluxe for Windows is best suited to personal finance power users who don’t mind setting up an application on their desktop and doing some of their work there. The software comes in four versions so a beginner might like the Quicken Starter edition, and people who need more in areas like planning, investing, and small business money management could use one of the more advanced versions. Anyone comfortable working with Windows applications should find it easy to use.

PROS

  • Robust set of personal finance tools
  • Connected companion website available
  • Flexible, in-depth transaction tracking
  • Excellent set of customizable reports
  • Advanced investment tracking

CONS

  • More desktop-dependent than most other personal finance apps

Learn More

Quicken Deluxe Review

Why We Picked It

People have a better shot at being responsible with their money if they get a head start while they’re young. Greenlight is the best app we’ve seen targeted at kids. It lets grown-ups supervise as kids learn to save, spend, give, and invest using a family debit card. The adult account owner can send money to their kids through the app and monitor their activity. 

Who It’s For

It’s hard to imagine a family with kids that wouldn’t benefit from using Greenlight. While there is a subscription fee, it starts at $4.99 per month, which isn’t too much. The company recommends it for ages 8 to 22, and how much they can do with their money increases with age. Teens can even be authorized to use a credit card and start building a good credit score. Younger children might enjoy the educational games.

PROS

  • Excellent controls for the supervising adult
  • Savings and investments supported
  • Family safety features
  • 24/7 customer support

CONS

  • High monthly fee to get a decent savings rate

SPECS

Free Version
Free Credit Report/Score
Web Interface
Income/Expense Tracking
iOS App
Android App

Learn More

Greenlight Review

Why We Picked It

Mint has been the gold standard for personal finance apps for years, though several other apps now do most of the same things. Mints lets you connect to all your online financial accounts, check your credit score, create budgets, and get a reasonable net worth estimate. Furthermore, Mint is free, so you can try it without obligation. It now has a Premium version for $4.99 per month, though most people will find it unnecessary.

Who It’s For

Mint is practically for everyone. Its ease of use, creative presentation of data and tools, and smart personal finance features appeal to a large audience. The app lets you track and manage your income, spending, budgets, savings goals, and investments. It’s simple and comprehensive, making it attractive to both financial novices and more seasoned consumers.

PROS

  • Generous free version
  • Great blend of features
  • Good transaction tracking, trend graphs, and budgeting tools
  • Includes credit score

CONS

  • Occasional bank connection problems
  • App organization could be improved
  • Some features behind paywall
  • Very basic investment tracking

SPECS

Free Version
Free Credit Report/Score
Web Interface
Income/Expense Tracking
iOS App
Android App

NerdWallet

Best for Personal Finance Education

Why We Picked It

NerdWallet arms consumers and small businesses with the tools, information, data, and insight they need to make financial decisions and improve their financial health. This content takes two primary forms: articles and tutorials on personal finance and offers for credit cards, mortgages, and other financial products. Like many of the best personal finance apps, NerdWallet lets you track your transactions, net worth, and cash flow, as well as learn about your credit score.

Who It’s For

NerdWallet is a good choice for people who want to not only just gauge their progress but also want free financial account management and credit score details without being constantly interrupted by ads for financial products like credit cards.

PROS

  • Free
  • Imports financial transactions
  • Explores credit score, net worth, cash flow
  • Voluminous financial literacy content
  • Minimal advertising intrusion

CONS

  • Can’t create your own budget
  • Little editorial content on mobile app

SPECS

Free Version
Free Credit Report/Score
Web Interface
Income/Expense Tracking
iOS App
Android App

Learn More

NerdWallet Review

Rocket Money

Best for Negotiating Bills, Canceling Subscriptions

Why We Picked It

Rocket Money (formerly TrueBill) is a breeze to use, with useful notification options. It helps you manage your money in interesting ways, such as negotiating bills on your behalf and helping you cancel unwanted subscriptions. Your credit score and daily financial transactions are part of the mix, too. An exceptional user interface makes it stand out from other personal finance apps.

Who It’s For

Rocket Money is precisely what many people want: an app where you pop in, get a quick look at money and where it’s moving, and get out. Most of Rocket Money’s features require a subscription fee of at least $3 per month (you decide how much to pay). However, that gives you some things other personal finance apps don’t, like the bill negotiation and subscription canceling services mentioned above. It’s best for people who want to track their money but don’t want to micromanage their finances or investments.

PROS

  • Includes transaction tracking, bill management, and credit score
  • Can negotiate bills on your behalf
  • Helps you cancel unwanted subscriptions
  • Excellent UI and navigation tools

CONS

  • Subscription fee required for all features
  • Some problems with bank connections
  • Weak investment tracking

SPECS

Free Version
Free Credit Report/Score
Web Interface
Income/Expense Tracking
iOS App
Android App

Learn More

Rocket Money Review

Credit Karma

Best for Free Credit Scores

Why We Picked It

Credit Karma not only keeps you up to date on your all-important credit score but also informs you of potential credit breaches. It has tools that help you find and secure the best credit card, loan, vehicle, and auto insurance deals. If you have ever wondered why your credit score is what it is or how to improve it, Credit Karma can answer those questions. It does all of this at no cost. 

Who It’s For

Credit Karma is especially good for people who want to improve their credit scores. Those with good scores can use it to stay alert to unexpected credit problems and search for better financial products when it’s time.

PROS

  • Free
  • Daily scores from two credit bureaus
  • Credit card snapshots
  • Save and spend accounts, Credit Builder

CONS

  • Ubiquitous financial product recommendations
  • Requires a new checking account for bill tracking and Credit Builder features

SPECS

Free Version
Free Credit Report/Score
Web Interface
Income/Expense Tracking
iOS App
Android App

Learn More

Credit Karma Review

Credit Sesame

Best for Credit Score Education

Why We Picked It

Credit Sesame is another site that promotes smart credit management. Its free version helps you learn how to bump up your credit score and offers handy credit- and debt-tracking tools. However, you need a Premium subscription if you want a more detailed view of your credit. A companion bank account, Sesame Cash, may help you get paid two days early.

Who It’s For

The real differentiator for Credit Sesame is the companion Sesame Cash account. It may be a smart choice for people in underserved communities who have had bad experiences with traditional banks. Thanks to its Credit Builder program, it’s also useful for those who want to be rewarded for using cash to improve their credit scores. The app also helps you report your rent payment track record for consideration as a part of your credit score.

PROS

  • Free subscription tier
  • Includes debt tracking and analysis
  • Great mobile apps
  • Rent payment reporting offered

CONS

  • Free version only pulls from one credit bureau
  • Must subscribe to Premium to get tools like credit monitoring
  • Lacks calculators, simulators, and other tools
  • No assistance with retiring debt

SPECS

Free Version
Free Credit Report/Score
Web Interface
Income/Expense Tracking
iOS App
Android App

Learn More

Credit Sesame Review

WalletHub

Best for Reviews of Financial Products

Why We Picked It

WalletHub has a singular focus, unlike other personal finance apps that offer a variety of tools and resources. It’s all about your credit score—what it is, how to analyze it, and ways to improve it. Because it emphasizes that one element of personal finance, individuals can pop in and quickly get the information they need without wading through other financial data. 

Who It’s For

Since WalletHub pays for itself by showing you credit card and loan ads, it’s a good site for credit shoppers who want help finding the best financial products for their situation. Staff reviews help with that, too. WalletHub’s numerous calculators also make it an appealing personal finance app to anyone looking to shape their budgets, compare borrowing costs, and plan for the future. It also has good calculators for figuring out the best way to clear your credit card debt.

PROS

  • Free
  • Detailed financial product profiles
  • Trustworthy reviews of financial products written by staff
  • Targeted recommendations

CONS

  • Hard to find some content
  • Can’t import bank and other financial transactions

SPECS

Free Version
Free Credit Report/Score
Web Interface
Income/Expense Tracking
iOS App
Android App

Learn More

WalletHub Review

Buying Guide: The Best Personal Finance Software for 2023


Is Connecting an App to Your Bank Accounts Safe?

Many personal finance apps support online connections to your financial institutions. Such apps download lists of transactions and other account data from your bank accounts, credit card accounts, brokerages, and other financial institutions so that you can see all the activity neatly in one place. To connect, you typically enter your login credentials for those financial sites, though you usually have to provide additional security information—which is, of course, a good thing.

The personal finance apps we reviewed all employ robust security protocols. The ones that connect to your financial accounts use encryption and other safety measures to protect your login information. Many use third parties, such as Plaid, to make secure connections. However, you must also do your part to make the experience safe.

Three key things you can do are:

  • Use a unique username and password for your financial logins and the personal finance app. A password manager is the tool you’ll want to use here.

  • Enable multi-factor authentication wherever it’s supported—again, for logging into the personal finance app and any connected bank accounts. Yes, it takes some extra time, but not nearly as much time as reconstructing your financial life if you’re the victim of identity theft.

  • Keep all your personal details, such as your date and city of birth, private because they can be used as authenticators to access financial data and accounts.

Brushing up on the best practices for preventing identity theft is always a good idea.

PCMag Logo What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

What Can You Do With a Personal Finance App?

After importing a batch of transactions from credit cards and bank accounts into a personal finance app, most people spend some time cleaning up the data. Transactions need to be correctly categorized for their type of income (salary, freelance payment, and interest, for example) or expenses (food, mortgage, utilities, and so on). Most apps guess the categories, but you can always change them and split transactions among different categories. So, if you go to one store and buy dog food and a new lamp, you can categorize the correct amounts as pet care and home furnishings.

Rocket Money mobile app, showing a few different views

(Credit: Rocket Money)

If you’re conscientious about categorizing your income and spending, the apps will make charts and reports that accurately summarize where your money comes from and where it goes. This information is crucial for budgeting as well as when tax preparation time rolls around.

Depending on the personal finance app, you might be able to add tags to transactions, too. That way, you can search for transactions that are related in other ways. For example, you might make a tag called tax-deductible, which gives you an easy way to pull up all your tax-deductible expenses at the end of the year. Rocket Money includes an option for this designation in its transaction details.

Some personal finance apps let you add notes and attach files. If you bought something with cash, though, your bank won’t have a record of it. In those circumstances, you can manually create a transaction. The best personal finance app for this kind of transaction management is Quicken Deluxe.

Seeing a list of all transactions across all your accounts in a personal finance app lets you see it as you can see it as soon as you log in. The sooner you catch an unauthorized transaction, the quicker you can alert your bank and cut off access to the account.


Get an Overview of Your Financial Situation

Every personal finance service we review shows you a dashboard when you log in. Sometimes, the dashboard is the only page you need to see because it shows the most pertinent information about your financial situation, such as your account balances and pending bills.

Quicken's dashboard with multiple charts and graphs showing different snapshots of the user's finances

(Credit: Quicken)

Charts and graphs on the dashboard tell you, for example, your income versus spending and how you’re doing with your budget. You may be able to set financial goals and gauge your progress at meeting them, as well as see updates on your investment portfolio if markets are open.

Basically, this overview shows you snippets and highlights of the data analysis these apps do behind the scenes, with options to dive deeper. Click a checking account balance in Mint, for example, and it takes you to the transaction list for that account. Click your credit score in Credit Karma to learn what contributes to it and how it’s recently changed. In short, the dashboard of your personal finance app gives you a quick look at your money situation and is a springboard to deeper financial study.


Learn How to Budget

Being conscientious about your finances includes minimizing your expenses so that they are lower than your income. That’s the goal, anyway, and personal finance apps help you achieve it through budgeting.

The mechanics of creating a workable budget are much easier than the process of specifying your limits. It’s often guesswork until you’ve had a budget for several months and start to see how your money comes and goes. For that reason, Quicken Deluxe and some other personal finance apps let you use past income and expenses as models. That way, you can answer the question, “How much do I usually spend each month?” and get an answer that relies on past data.

Mint does budgeting a little bit differently. In Mint, budgets come from your spending categories. You select a category, choose a frequency (for example, every month), and enter an amount. How much do you want to spend every month on your car? What about groceries? The site shows you how well you’re adhering to each budget with a series of colored horizontal bars that show where your spending is currently, compared with your budgeted amount for the given time period. Green means you’re doing OK, and red means you’ve gone over your self-imposed limit. You can tweak each budget as you learn more about your spending habits by clicking the up and down arrows.

Mint's budget showing two bar graphs for spending in two categories: Movies & DVDs, which is green and therefore OK, and Coffee Shops, which is orange indicating the user is nearing their monthly budget

(Credit: Mint)

Quicken Deluxe considers a budget to be a comprehensive table that contains all categories. The software also lets you view your budgets by a variety of time periods, like monthly and annually. And it has tools to help automate your data entry.


Set Your Financial Goals

Setting goals, such as establishing an emergency fund, isn’t rocket science. With a personal finance app, you specify the amount you’re trying to save and the target date for achieving it, and the application tells you how much you have to save every month to meet your goals. Some sites do more. NerdWallet, for example, lets you link your goals to the appropriate spending account, so your progress is automatically tracked.


Limited Big-Picture Planning

Most personal finance apps do not focus on the theory and implementation of retirement planning, much less lifetime financial planning. Quicken Deluxe, though, has tools to help you pay off your debts faster, plan for taxes, and establish a comprehensive lifetime financial plan. 


Does Personal Finance Software Help You Pay Bills?

Of the applications we review, only Quicken offers online bill pay, but it charges a monthly fee for it if you have the Deluxe version.

Other applications let you record bills and bill payments, though you have to make the payments elsewhere. But at least that way, you can include the cost of your bills in your personal finance picture. Mint and Quicken Deluxe are especially good at this. You can set up automatic connections to online billers (Xcel Energy or Verizon, for example) or enter offline bills from suppliers who don’t bill you electronically, such as a dog walker or babysitter. The site alerts you when they’re due to be paid and lets you record payments manually.


Can Personal Finance Apps Boost Your Credit Score?

An excellent credit score is gold. Beyond helping you get approved for a credit card, mortgage, car loan, and so on, it helps minimize the interest rate you pay. It’s important to know not only what your credit score is at any given time but also how it gets calculated and what you can do to improve it.

Recommended by Our Editors

Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, NerdWallet, and WalletHub—all free—do this. Credit Karma is especially comprehensive and efficient in this regard. It pulls your credit score daily from two of the three major bureaus and gives you access to your credit reports. It also explains how different factors contribute to your credit score and what you can do to try and boost it.

One of the ways you can improve your credit score is to use financial products—credit cards, mortgages—that have attractive interest rates and other benefits, making it easier for you to pay off debt as quickly as possible. Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, NerdWallet, and WalletHub help pay for the services they provide by displaying occasional ads for products that might appeal to you based on your credit profile. You can also browse marketplaces for additional candidates. 

Be warned, however, that frequently canceling credit cards and acquiring new ones affects your credit score. Still, it’s good to learn about these suggested products so that when the time comes, you know the best options.


Do Personal Finance Apps Know Your Net Worth?

Do personal finance apps know your net worth? Well, it depends on how much you tell them. You may only want to use a personal finance service for day-to-day income and expense management, budgeting, and goal setting. In that case, you don’t need to tell the app about other assets and funds you have, whether it’s a trust fund or a property. If there’s an account you don’t want to be reflected in your app, just leave it out.

Mint, Quicken Deluxe, and a few others let you input your assets, including properties, vehicles, and investment holdings, which contribute to your net worth. If you keep your financial data and assets updated and connect the app to all your financial accounts (including accounts in debt), you get a running tally that reflects your total net worth.


Manage Your Money on the Go

You probably don’t need advanced money management tools when you’re away from your desktop or laptop. But when you’re out spending money, you do need to know how much you have available. 

All the personal finance services reviewed here are available as mobile apps. Most offer somewhat reduced functionality, but you can at least check your account balances, view transactions, add transactions, and see graphs related to your spending and income. You may also be able to get your credit score and check the status of pending bills.


What Is the Best Free Personal Finance App?

The majority of personal finance apps are free or have a free tier of service. Mint stands out as the best. The app now does have a paid tier of service with a few features behind a paywall, but the free version is excellent for most people. The app makes money by showing you targeted ads for financial products like credit cards, though they aren’t as intrusive as they used to be. For 99 cents per month, you can get rid of the ads. At $4.99 per month, Mint Premium includes features that, frankly, most people could live without, such as a subscription cancellation service and advanced data visualization.

NerdWallet is another totally free app worth mentioning. It combines bank account imports and transaction management with stronger credit score content than Mint. It also has an incredible amount of editorial content (including tutorials) on personal finance topics. NerdWallet is supported in part by ads for financial products, but they don’t get in the way. The app also tracks your net worth and cash flow as long as you connect to all your online financial accounts. It does show you your credit score and explain how it came to be, although Credit Karma (also totally free) does a better job here.


Pick the Best Personal Finance App for You

Which personal finance app is best? It depends on what you need at the moment. If you don’t want to pay anything for a personal finance app and you want overviews of nearly everything related to your finances, Mint is best. If you want an excruciatingly detailed picture of your money and financial health, plus some of the best tools for managing investments, Quicken Deluxe is best. If you want to understand and improve your credit score, you’ll probably want to use Credit Karma or NerdWallet. And if you want the best overall user experience that features the basics as well as some innovative tracking tools, try Editors’ Choice Simplifi by Quicken.

By admin

Leave a Reply

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