Budgeting doesn’t have to be hard, but it has to be done. It’s like counting calories when you want to get healthier or look beter, and it just works.
This article has two sections, the first section talk about apps that connect to your bank account.
The second section shows apps that do not connect to your bank account; instead, you have to do manual input.
If you are a beginner and have little to no experience using apps to track your spending, this guide will help you pick the right app for your spending style.
Can you trust budget apps that connect to your bank account?
It can be scary giving these apps access to your bank account. But all the apps on this list are safe to use and trustworthy. This is because bank accounts will ask for your permission to give these apps access to your stuff. In other words, you are always in control.
You can remove access anytime you want. Another thing is that these apps do not share your information with any other entity, and they are completely private. Also, the benefits of keeping a budget far outweigh the initial worries you may have had.
Apps that connect to your bank account
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
Mint is the best free app for beginners because you can pretty much set it and forget it.
It even comes with credit monitoring and budget planning. The best part is that it can organize your expenses automatically, which means you don’t have to go over each expense and assign them under specific categories.
Also Read: Benefits of being your own money manager.
For some expenses that mint cannot identify which category should go under, you can create rules. This allows mint to learn and remember that particular expense.
We have used mint for free for the past ten years, and this has allowed us to save money. All we do is check mint once at the end of the month, categorize whatever mint has missed, and evaluate our budget for that month. This takes less than an hour.
BEST IF YOU PLAN TO INVEST IN THE FUTURE
Personal capital is better suited if you need to do long-term planning. It will give you access to a free financial advisor once you have enough money saved up. Personal capital connects your bank account to help you keep track of your cash flow.
It is great for beginners because you can still use the free expense tracking without paying any fees.
It also has the best customer service to help you set up your account or walk you through any hiccups.
BEST FOR TWO PEOPLE BUDGETING
It is a great app for budgeting with your significant other because you can share access to your bank accounts. But don’t worry, you can pick what to share.
I love that it is free and even categorizes your expenses for you without charging you anything extra.
When budgeting as a couple, knowing how to approach sensitive money matters a lot. Using an app helps to make things easier.
BEST FOR BUSY PEOPLE THAT WANT TO SCAN THEIR RECEIPTS
Expensify allows taking pictures of your receipts. It is a free app, although the downside is that the free version has limited categories.
Still, it is a great choice if you are busy, as scanning your receipt with your phone camera is very convenient.
Manual Tracking apps that do not connect to your bank account
BEST FOR PEOPLE THAT USE THE ENVELOPE METHOD
The envelope method allows you to set up a budget by allocating a certain amount to a specific category. You only spend whatever amount you have set up for that category, and if you run out, you have to wait until next month.
Goodbudget will keep track of your digital envelopes with their app. So you can have up to 20 digital envelopes for free. This is great to budget for categories such as groceries, clothing, gas, and dining out.
If you do not want to sync your bank account to a budgeting app, this is a great choice.
I like how it displays a pie chart where you can see where most of your money is being spent and make adjustments accordingly.
BEST FOR PEOPLE THAT LIKE USING SPREADSHEETS
Google sheets is free and private, and they keep your information secure. I like the feature where you can give your partner access to your expenses, and they can help you categorize each expense.
Google sheets will not ask you to link a bank account, so you have to manually input your expenses. This requires a bit more time on your part, but it has added peace of mind, which is privacy.
Why use a budget tool?
Using a budgeting app helps you keep track of your expenses. As a result, you can see your spending at the end of every month.
Remember, you can only change what you track. If you are not tracking your expenses, you leave thousands of dollars on the table. Even before setting up your emergency fund, knowing how to budget should be on your priority list.
Although you can track with pen and paper, the convenience of a budgeting app will increase your chances of staying consistent.
How often should you check your budgeting app for accuracy?
It is good to check every week for accuracy while tracking expenses. This is because, in the beginning, your app will miscategorize some items.
If you are manually writing down your expenses, you should still spend some time at the end of every week making sure you have listed all your expenses for that week.
Pros and cons of budgeting apps
I created this infographic to make it easy to visualize some benefits and drawbacks of using budgeting apps:
In conclusion, there are many budgeting apps that you can use for free. Here, we have listed a few. Some of them connect to your bank account, and some don’t. The benefit of the connected apps is that they require less work on your part. The benefit of the apps that do not connect is that you can keep more privacy.
Whatever you use is up to you. As long as you are keeping track of your personal finances, any method will do. Having a budget is required when you want to have financial independence.
So keep your money in check with a budget and keep making the most of your finances.