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The 7 best budgeting apps of February 2024


The best budgeting apps give you a measure of control over your finances, allowing you to manage your income and expenses without too much hassle at a reasonable price. We considered more than a dozen data points from 20 prominent apps to find the best one for you.

All terms and prices accurate as of February 12, 2024.

The 7 best budgeting apps

Why trust our banking experts

Our team of experts evaluates hundreds of banking products and analyzes thousands of data points to help you find the best product for your situation. We use a data-driven methodology to determine each rating. Advertisers do not influence our editorial content. You can read more about our methodology below.

 

  • 20 appsreviewed.
  • 4 levels of fact checking.
  • 15+ data points analyzed.

Compare the best budgeting apps

The ideal budgeting app has robust features that allow you to manage your money in a manner that you see fit, while not costing you so much that you’re breaking your budget to pay for it.

Of course no product can live up entirely to that ideal, so tradeoffs are required, which is why you won’t find a completely free app among our recommendations, though some products offer a gratis basic version.

This isn’t entirely bad; it’s very easy, after all, to sign up for a budgeting app out of a desire to gain control over your pursestrings, only to stop looking at the thing mere weeks after you’ve created an account. A few dollars a month, therefore, puts your skin in the game and may make you more likely to consult the app on a regular basis to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.

As for our rankings, we looked at 20 prominent apps, and accounted for 16 data points, including cost, consumer ratings and security features. We assigned the following weights:

Account integration: 30%

We rewarded those apps that allow you to automatically sync your bank and credit card accounts, thereby ridding you of the tiresome task of manually inputting each transaction. We also looked favorably upon those apps that imposed no restrictions on app syncing.

Cost: 25%

While we recognize that there is no free lunch in life, and that a budgeting app that costs money may cause you to pay closer attention to your finances, we still believe there’s a limit to how much you should pay to track and budget your income and expenses.

Security: 15%

We gave kudos to those apps that have multifactor authentication, biometrics and encryption security options available.

Shareability: 10%

Getting on the same financial page with your spouse or partner is difficult enough already, which is why we rewarded those apps that enabled you to share accounts.

Website version available: 10%

A smartphone can be a wonderful tool, but oftentimes it is useful to consult a web-based version of the app, allowing you a more sophisticated look into your financial health.

Mobile app rating: 10%

It doesn’t matter what services a company claims it provides if you can’t make sense of those features on your phone. We rely on the wisdom of the crowd here to help us make sense of how well a particular app delivers to its customers.

What is a budgeting app?

A budgeting app is a tool you can use to keep track of your money. This includes how much you have coming in and how much is going out, including for bills, savings and other spending. 

“These apps usually link all your financial accounts so you can view everything in one place to give you a better picture on your spending and saving habits,” said Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert. “Some apps will suggest a budget for you based on your expenses and set spending limits on categories, alerting you when you’re about to overspend, which is helpful for those who aren’t as diligent in paying attention to daily purchases and expenses.”

Types of budgeting apps

There are a few different types of budgeting apps, including those that are paid compared to free ones. Most apps that focus on budgeting give you an idea of your income and spending habits. Then it gets specific from there.

“To make budgeting more effortless, the industry is increasingly moving towards bank linking to automatically pull transaction data,” said Emily Luk, a co-founder and chief executive of wealth-building app Plenty. “That helps reduce the work of manually inputting data and changing categories.”

Many budgeting apps are based on different budgeting systems. For instance, the wildly popular You Need a Budget (YNAB) centers around the zero-based budgeting method. Goodbudget uses the envelope method.

“I like apps that use zero-based budgeting methods, which assign a task to each dollar you earn,” Woroch said. “That means, even after you pay your bills and have money set aside for groceries and transportation, those leftover dollars don’t go to waste. They may be earmarked for an emergency fund, retirement savings, debt repayment and more.”

How budget apps work

Because there’s no one way to craft a budget, there’s no one set way for budgeting apps to work. 

The first thing you should do is find one that’s in line with how you want to budget. This could be zero-based budgeting, the envelope method or the 50/30/20 rule. It’s fine if you try one that doesn’t work out — that’ll give you a chance to try a new budgeting app based on a different method.

After you settle on an app, it’s time to sign up and sync accounts. 

While most folks use apps to manage their personal expenses, some apps are available to share with a partner or your household.

“Some apps allow you to sync financial accounts with other family members to help everyone get on the same financial page,” Woroch said. “With younger generations, tech and apps are the best way to get their attention so this could be a great way to engage them in household finances.”

After you sync accounts or manually add transactions, you can set up your budget. You can allot different amounts to different needs. 

Start with something standard, such as your home or car payments. Then move on to utilities, like electricity and cell phones. 

You may have a harder time setting up fixed budgets for things like groceries, dining out or shopping, which tend to have fluctuating costs. You can set an amount you’re comfortable with and then check it throughout the month to see if your spending is in line with it.

Adjust as necessary until you get to a reasonable figure. And remember you can always change it based on circumstances.

If it’s your first time budgeting, don’t get discouraged if your estimates are off base. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. It often takes three or four months to get used to budgeting. It’s a skill you need to learn, just like anything else. You won’t be perfect on the first try. 

One great thing about budgeting apps is that they’re fluid, just like your finances. So feel free to make changes and goals as your life and lifestyle change.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Budgeting apps help you set realistic financial goals as well as help you monitor and track your spending. Since many households use credit or debit cards to make purchases, syncing a budgeting app to your bank accounts is easy to set up. The work comes through you and making sure your spending is in line with your goals.

You’ll need to stay on top of your finances to be successful with any budgeting app.

The best budgeting apps tend to cost something, though the price isn’t unaffordable for most. 

There will be a learning curve with any budgeting app. Many are user-friendly and easy to use, but keep in mind that they require a little bit of extra work, at least in the beginning.

Adding all your accounts and setting up different budgets and systems takes some time.

There are many different ways to budget and using an app is supposed to help you keep track of your finances. The pros of using a budgeting app include knowing what money you have coming in, where your money goes out and how to adjust your spending to meet financial goals. 

The biggest con is that the best apps aren’t free. Though if you use an app to spend less, or save more, than you otherwise would have, then the tradeoff is worth it.



Read More:The 7 best budgeting apps of February 2024