When we think of self-care, we usually gravitate to face masks, meditation, or getting more sleep. But financial wellness is self-care too! Putting more energy into having healthy finances not only helps you build a solid foundation and financial future, but reduces stress.
The basis of financial wellness is arguably learning to make and stick to a realistic budget. Budgeting is like dieting: it all comes down to input and output. Learning how to break down what money comes in, separating fixed and variable expenses, and considering investments, savings, and retirement are all part of budgeting. When a simple spreadsheet won't do, budgeting apps can make life a lot easier by categorizing and tracking your spending, creating goals, and linking multiple accounts to get a full picture of your finances.
Most of the apps are designed for personal financing, each with something unique to offer. There are a lot of money management and finance apps out there, so it helps to know the special features of each one, and what type of user they'll work best for. We've done the leg work, and researched and tested the apps to create this guide for you.
Top 7 Budgeting Apps
- Best Overall: Mint
- Best for the Basics: Daily Budget
- Best for Syncing With Others: Goodbudget
- Best for the Detail Oriented: YNAB
- Best Design: PocketGuard
- Best for Savings: Qapital
- Best for Investors: Personal Capital
Best Overall: Mint
Mint is one of the oldest and most widely used budgeting apps out there. And for good reason. It offers a variety of features to help you track and manage your money and has a large bank of financial institutions to choose from to link your accounts.
The interface is easy-to-use and is available as both a smartphone app and computer platform. The budgeting tracker is the main feature and first thing you see when you log in, which is a great way to see your progress. Mint automatically categorizes your spending and tracks transactions against budget parameters you create. So if you go $20 over your allotted “Restaurants” budget for the month, Mint will set off an alert.
One of the greatest things about Mint is that it’s free! So you won’t need to work a budgeting app cost into your new budget!
Best for the Basics: Daily Budget
Price: Free with paid in-app purchases for extra features like data encryption, adding multiple users, and ad removal
Daily Budget is a straightforward, simple app, that doesn’t require bank connection or data sharing. So if sharing your bank info makes you feel icky, this might be the app for you! Rather than syncing data from your bank accounts, you input your income and add expenses as they occur straight into the app and Daily Budget lets you know how much money you have left. Much like journaling, as long as you’re accurate and up to date with your transactions, Daily Budget allows you to track your daily spending and helps forecast how much you have available over the next few days.
The interface is also very simple, well-designed, and easy to use. Because it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, it feels manageable and approachable. You can still categorize spending and see trends, add in financial goals, and incorporate saving.
Best for Syncing With Others: Goodbudget
Price: Free with in-app purchases for features like adding more than 10 envelopes, syncing more than 5 devices, and saving up to 7 years of transaction history
Goodbudget is based on the envelope system, the concept that you distribute your available funds into different designated envelopes, i.e. “groceries for the week”, “gas money”, etc. and once you’ve exhausted all funds from that envelope, you’ve reached your budget for that category! Each month you take your paycheck and literally set aside what you need. Budget by category (‘envelopes’ in the app) with up to 10 envelopes for free. Add to your envelopes from your income every payday and you’ll know just how much you have leftover for non-essential purchases.
Goodbudget also makes it very easy to sync your budget with other users (even across Apple and Android platforms!), so if you live with a partner, or manage a household, you can easily contribute to and manage finances collectively.
Best for the Detail Oriented: YNAB
Price: $12/month or $84/annually
Although You Need a Budget (YNAB) is one of the only apps on here that you have to pay for to use, it makes the list because it is one of the most widely-used and effective budgeting tools on the market. YNAB focuses on goal-setting and using spending patterns to look forward, rather than look back at last month when you spent an obscene amount of money on restaurants. YNAB requires you to be proactive and disciplined, but helps you prioritize expenses through in-app goal setting and lessons that actually teach you about healthy spending. YNAB isn’t a set it and forget it kind of app, it requires input and empower you to take control of your finances so you don’t feel stressed!
Best Design: PocketGuard
Price: Free with some in-app purchases for extra features
PocketGuard is one of the easiest apps to set up and has a beautiful, simple interface that is easy to navigate. It’s pretty straightforward in that it tracks how much you earn, follows what you're spending on recurring bills and everyday expenses, and allows you to auto-deposit into your savings account over time. PocketGuard provides a no-frills, simplified budgeting snapshot.
PocketGuard alerts you from overspending and missing payments, hence the name, pocket “guard”. It also scans and looks for subscriptions you may be forgetting and researches better deals for services you already pay for to save you money.
Best for Savings: Qapital
Qapital is a goals-based savings app with custom rules for saving. While Qapital still tracks spending and expenses like other budgeting apps, its true focus is saving. Saving ‘just because’ is fine, but saving for something special is fun. Qapital helps you get there through Goals and Rules – two ways to supercharge your saving with little effort. Plus you can even team up with others to reach Shared Goals. Qapital also incorporates investing into its platform, with built-in portfolios perfect for budding investors.
With a colorful interface, and features like “Money Missions”, small challenges that help you think deeper about your spending, Qapital actually makes budgeting feel fun.
Best for Investors: Personal Capital
Unlike most of the other apps listed in this guide, Personal Capital is primarily an investment management tool, that also includes features helpful for budgeters looking to track their spending. A combination of robo-advisors and access to human financial advisors, Persona Capital allows you to set goals, monitor and track your investments in real-time, and learn about investing along the way.
The user interface is very professional and clean, giving it a very “financial” aesthetic. Personal Capital measures up to platforms like Quicken, and may actually be surpassing them as PC continues to refine their technology and offer cutting edge features and education for free!
The cash flow and budgeting tools are not quite as extensive as other apps on this list, but they work just similarly using the same automated tracking of purchases from linked accounts.
This communication is intended to convey general information only and not to provide any legal or accounting advice or opinions. An attorney or accountant should be consulted for specific information.