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Budget Apps

Struggling With Budgeting? Find the Best Budget App For You

Finance experts often recommend budgeting down to the dollar. But, people often wonder, “Is that even possible?” If you’re bringing in, say, $1,200 per paycheck, how can you account for all twelve hundred dollars? Well, the truth is, it’s not only possible, but it’s also necessary.

In a society that’s known for living paycheck to paycheck (while steeped in debt), getting financially fit is no easy task – just like that budget down to the dollar. But, with the best budget app out there on the market today, you can get your finances in order.

We’ve scoured the net for you and even given a couple of the apps below a test run. Each platform offers something a little bit different, so we know there’s one in here for you. Just remember, you can turn the tide on your flailing finances. Together, let’s put on our green visor, turn on our banker’s lamp, and turn this ship around.

#1 You Need a Budget

The first app we're going to recommend is totally manual. The app does not do all the work for you. And, for beginners, we found this to be highly beneficial.

Many of us don't even know where we spend all our money. At the end of every month, we wonder, "Where did it all go?" So, the reason we recommend You Need a Budget (YNAB) is because there's an option to manually add your transactions.

This makes you accountable for every dollar. Finding the best budget tracking app is only the first step. The second step is seeing where all your money goes. Once you log in, your task will be very straightforward: give every dollar a job.

If there's $1,250 in your bank account, then you will be asked to allocate all of it, down to the dollar. This makes you accountable to only spend, say, $300 at the grocery store, $75 on meals out, and $120 on gas. It's a great starting point and one that truly makes you the master of your own budget.

There's one small catch to You Need a Budget. It isn't free. It's free for the first 34 days, but then you have to pay $11.99 per month or $84 per year. We know. Why would you pay money when you're trying to save money?

Well, because the reviews say it works. And, if it works, then that means you're finally going to be building up a savings account. Using 84 of those dollars to "get right" with your finances is, in our opinion, a worthwhile investment.


#2 Mint

If you're on the hunt for the best free budget app, then Mint is worth a moment of your time. It could easily be named one of the best budgeting apps 2019 because it's very popular, and for good reason.

First, there's the free component. Although You Need a Budget is fantastic, some people can't come to terms with spending money to save money. Here's where Mint comes in. It doesn't offer the manual entry option (which, still, we highly recommend), but it does just about everything else under the sun.

You'll start out by syncing all your bank accounts, including credit cards and loans. Then, you categorize everything. You list all your bills, but you also categorize your transactions. So, when you run to Walmart, that gets posted to the right spending category. But, what's really cool is that you can take a deeper dive and see where you could be doing better.

For example, at Walmart, you probably buy certain items that might be categorized under groceries, other items that might be categorized under electronics, and other items that might be categorized under medicine.

Mint allows you to split up your transactions and get down to the nitty-gritty. This allows you to take note of the fact that you're doing alright on your grocery bottom line, but you need to ease up on your frivolous spending in the electronics category.

The other thing we love about Mint is their visuals. It displays pie charts and graphs, detailing your patterns. This will either be scary or promising. It'll be scary if you're blowing through your grocery budget with wild abandon. It'll be encouraging if you start noticing an uptick in that "savings" category.

Beware: Mint is going to expose a lot of the not-so-good areas of your spending habits. But, isn't that what we're here to do anyway?


#3 Empower

For many of us, the COVID crisis showed us just how financially depleted we are. When the cost of basic goods and services inches up and the work runs out, what kind of finances are we left to stand upon? For many, the answer is, "Not much."

So, how do reach the seemingly-unattainable goal of major savings? Truthfully, it starts with a hunt for the best money budget app. If you're not ending up in the red at the end of every month, but simply want to know where all your money goes, then Empower may be a great alternative for you.

From what we can see, it's the best app for savings. One of its primary focuses is to see where you can set aside a little extra. In the beginning, you'll set your savings target. Then, as you go through each month, it'll tell you where you can pump the brakes on your spending and, ultimately, transfer that excess into your savings budget.

It's kind of like a virtual accountant with glasses hanging low on his nose as he peers over the rims and says, "Now, now. You need to stop eating out every Friday night and lay off those designer coffee beans." The course correction that Empower creates is enough to help people squirrel away a rainy day fund that, today, seems more important than ever.


#4 Charlie

Charlie is an interesting budget app because it's text-based. After you sync all your accounts and start tracking, Charlie chimes in with commentary on your spending. It'll send you texts, suggesting that this bill is too high or this bank account is running low.

As Charlie chimes in, he'll also offer helpful advice. We've seen it Charlie text someone and say, "Your Verizon bill is $129/month. That's quite high." Perhaps you didn't know that was high. Perhaps it never crossed your mind to price shop and switch plans at the end of your contract.

This is where Charlie becomes your new best friend. Often, we get into trouble in our spending habits because we just don't stop to consider if one bill is too high, another bill is quite reasonable, and another bill needs to go out the window altogether. Once Charlie helps you trim the fat, you can then go on to devote a certain amount to savings or investment plans.


#5 Goodbudget

Sorry, friends. We have to go back to another manual entry tool. You probably know this by now, but we're not interested in archaic technological tools. We love learning about the latest and greatest gadgets out there.

But, the reason we're going to hammer away at manual entry apps over apps that sync your accounts and do everything for you is because the best way to master your budget is to become the master of your spending habits. Manual entry allows you to see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So, Goodbudget is also the best budget app for iPhones and Androids because it's going to force you to take a cold, hard look at every transaction. In fact, unlike Mint, it doesn't even offer the option to sync with your bank accounts. You enter all the information from each of your bank accounts.

Goodbudget follows the good ol' fashioned envelope system. We remember seeing our grandmother do this at the dining room table. She'd cash a portion of our grandfather's paycheck. Some would remain in the account to write checks; some would be cashed for purchases like groceries, clothing, and gas. Once those envelopes were empty, that category was no longer viable.

So, Goodbudget asks you to set a dollar amount for each of your virtual envelopes. And, just like grandma, once the money's gone, it's gone. The "See Your Spending" area that creates a pie chart allows you to see how balanced you are.

Things like utilities and car payments can't be tinkered with too much. But, if your "spending cash" envelope or "restaurant" envelope is eating up a lot of the pie, then it's time to reprioritize.

In our opinion, this is one of the best budget apps for couples because you guys can sit down and really examine where you're doing well and where you're going wrong. And, although you can't sync your bank accounts, you can sync your Goodbudget account with your partner in crime.

It's not free, but it comes with a smaller price tag than our number one, You Need a Budget. In fact, it's about half the cost at $5.99 per month or $50 per year.


#6 The Best Budget App for You

We hope this list helps you choose the right app for your lifestyle. As you begin your research on the best budget app, you'll start to notice the same names pop up. But, we hope this deep dive will allow you to sync with the best app for your lifestyle. Don't just download the highest-rated app. 

Instead, download the best app for what you're trying to do. Whether you want to see where your money goes each month or you want to get out of the red, one of these apps will help you achieve your goal. 

And that's what we're all about here at Popular Apps. We want to target the best apps for every area of your life. As you continue the hunt for the smartest tool for each of your pursuits, we hope you'll keep coming back for more in-depth dives on the best apps for all our avenues in life.

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