Budgeting is one of those habits that can easily change your life if you build them properly. Keep in mind that from all individuals complaining about stress, more than half of them attribute their high-stress levels to their financial situation and the anguish of making ends meet.
A proper budgeting habit will help you analyze your personal finances based on your current income, allowing you to get a more macro view of your necessities, spending habits and also your goals/dreams. A budget without compromise will not take you anywhere, but if you truly obey it and stick to it, it will surely get you closer to your goals in life.
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If you were to ask someone on the street how much money do they need in order to cover all their necessities, chances are they won’t even be able to provide you a straight number. In most cases, the answer would be a derivative of what they are earning or even more than that. The whole idea of budgeting is to have a clear vision and a game plan of where every penny is going. You would be surprised by how small changes can have a major impact on someone’s financial situation.
There is a famous quote in the US about how “a Latte a day keeps retirement away“. To put it into perspective imagine spending $3,25 every day in a cup of coffee, it might not sound like a lot but once you add it up over a period of 12 months you would spending more than $1,186 a year. I don’t have anything against drinking coffee every morning, but maybe you should consider pouring it at home!
We live in a world where our closest companion is usually our smartphone or our computers, why not taking advantage of that in order to control and budget our finances! What used to be done with a calculator and long sheets of papers can now be addressed with the help of a Budgeting app.
Please note that there are many great options that one can choose from, and most of them are free of use. Considering how much it can benefit your life there is no reason why you should not take an hour of your time to start your budget. This hour will yield more to your life than you can possibly imagine!
The following is the result of an extensive review of the best budgeting apps available in the market in 2020, I’m pretty confident that you will find an option that will suit your necessities in here.
What are the Best Budgeting Apps of 2020?
1. Mint – Best for Everyday Users
One of the major setbacks of most traditional budgeting apps is that they required a lot of human intervention, which makes them less convenient and dependant. Keep in mind that if in order to be able to analyze your finances you have to take one hour of your time every week to manually input all transactions, chances are you will fail to do it consistently if you are not committed enough.
On the other hand Apps like Mint excels at delivering a less dependent environment. The firm offers a seamless interaction between bank accounts and investment accounts, providing its users with an autonomous platform. The key idea behind the app is for individuals to be able to centralize their finances and to be able to budget and record all transactions.
Note that this platform will also help you to analyze all your bank accounts as a whole, this is a great tool for anyone who uses and manages their funds between different financial institutions. Being able to know the summed balance of all your accounts, the cash available and also your bills due on that month are just a few of the key insights that you get with Mint.
- Price: Free for the first 10 accounts (most individuals won’t need to upgrade their account)
- Best Feature: Bank Account Consolidation
- Recommended for: This app is perfect for anyone interested in starting a budgeting habit. It is definitely not the most powerful one in the market but it sure is enough for most users.
- Application: Besides being one of the best looking platforms in the market, Mint also provides a dynamic approach to budgeting planning. Being able to know at any time where you are standing in relation to your budget and goals are key benefits from this app. Life is not still, things can change in a second and without any notice, being able to adjust your budget and your plan accordingly is a plus that not many companies offer.
- Goal Setting: The platform allows you to track your goals in the platform, it will provide you an always updated view of where you are standing and the process to complete them
- Credit Score Tracking: Mint has a direct connection to Equifax’s credit score tracker, this will allow you to check how your credit score performs on a monthly basis
- Weekly Summaries: The App provides a weekly report of all the movements and transactions within the week, it also provides insight in terms of how the spending was aligned with the standing goals. This will let you know if you are on the right track to achieve your goals of the month
- Bill Payments: Please note that even though the firm will remind you to pay your bills, it does not offer automatic or scheduled payments (this is a common service offered by its competitors)
- Sync Problems: Connecting different bank accounts with Mint might be one of its best features, but doing so can be tricky and very time consuming the first time.
- Currencies: If you have multiple accounts in different currencies you will have to deal with the account giving inaccurate lectures of your funds. Even though the software should do the exchange to USD or the desired currency, in most cases it is not dynamic enough.
2. Pocket Guard – Simplest Platform
Pocket guard uses a more simple and straightforward approach, instead of constantly bombarding you with a lot of numbers and information the app focuses on letting you know how much money you have left after all your goals and payments have been covered. The idea behind this model is to make sure you will always succeed in achieving your goals and that you will respect your budget.
Just like with other platforms like Mint, the app allows for a seamless connection with multiple financial institutions. One key differentiator of this firm against their competitors is that setting up the app is way easier, you will see that the software will guide you through every step in order to make the whole process smoother.
Unlike many other budgeting softwares PocketGuard allows for its own AI algorithm to automatically assign a category for all your expenses, this allows for all payments to be categorized as part of your budget. For example:
If you have a monthly budget for eating outside of $50, every time the software receives a confirmation of a payment made to a restaurant it will automatically discount the bill from your available budget. You will always know how much you have left to spend in each category and it will let know if you’ve breached your own spenditure limit.
If you have multiple loans, accounts and even credit cards you should consider using PocketGuard as a way to keep everything under control. Information can be translated to power, in the case of PG, it means the power of knowing that you are creating healthy financial habits.
- Price: The App is available for free, but its premium access has a price of $34,99 a year.
- Recommended for: Individuals looking to get a simplified budgeting app.
- Application: The pocket guard platform is another example of what a minimalistic approach can get in an app. The overall design of the platform is intended to simplify the budgeting process making it more accessible for any kind of individual.
- In My Pocket: The app offers an “in my pocket” category that allows you to see how much money you have left after paying for all your responsibilities in your budget
- Spending Limits: The AI of the app will let you know if at some point a transaction you are trying to do will violate your spending limits on that category. The idea behind this is to always keep you on the right track towards your budgeting goals
- Cash Transactions: The premium version of the platform automatically considers ATM transactions as part of your budget
- Automatic Budget Creation: If you don’t know how to start creating a budget don’t worry, the app will guide you into creating your budget. It is important to mention that if you want so you can automatize rebalancing of your budget automatically, this way the app will use the most efficient way to achieve your goals
- Lagging Customer Support: If for some reason you need to talk to customer support, you will find yourself spending a considerably long time on the phone. This is a point that the app should truly invest in fixing
- Unsolicited Emails (Free Version): The app might be free but keep in mind that the developers behind it are expecting to make money out of it, for this reason, the information collected from your spending habits is usually sold to other companies. It is fairly common to receive unsolicited emails offering products and services if you use their free platform. If you are concern about your privacy you might want to upgrade to the premium version or instead you might want to look for another option. This is a point that can easily become a deal breaker for most individuals
3. Personal Capital – Best Option for Power Users
When it comes to personal finances the most powerful platform and app available in the market right now is Personal Capital. Keep in mind that for the porpuses of this article we are evaluating how their budgeting platform works, but it is important to keep in mind that the platform does way more than simply helping you design and maintain a healthy budget.
Personal Capital is such a powerful platform that it does even offer access to their proprietary robo-advisor, capable of buying and selling securities and to maintain and rebalance any investment portfolio.
The main idea of this platform is to provide as much support and information as if you were talking directly with a financial advisor.
Please be aware that even though more complex services require a minimum deposit and net worth, their financial dashboard is completely free and available to all individuals. Even if you don’t qualify for a full account you should take advantage of their free service, this is one of those moments in life where you will truly receive a top class service completely free of charge.
If you are looking to consolidate your budgeting and investing necessities under one single brand you should consider Personal Capital as your best option.
- Price: Budgeting Suite is free but in order to get full access to the rest of the services you will require to open an account with at least $100,000 of balance.
- Recommended for: even though the platform has a nice layout, it is important to mention that it can be tricky to use if you are not sophisticated enough. It requires a certain level of knowledge of the financial markets and also about finance in order to truly take full advantage of their services. For most individuals looking to get a cheap and easy app to create their budgets, Personal Capital might be too much.
- Application: This is probably the most powerful platform available in the market. Personal Capital deserves to be applauded by the amazing job they did at creating this app. Keep in mind that this is a platform that will work best for power users and individuals with investment portfolios.
- Financial Management Tools: The free service offered by the firm is so complete that it even allows individuals to forecast their budgets in order to afford mortgages and improve their credit scores.
- Oldest Robo-Advisors: With more than 10 years of existence Personal Capital is one of the most experienced and respected robo-advisors available in the market
- Account Minimum: The minimum required to open an account is obscene compared to their competitors.
- Complicated Platform: The fact that it is the most powerful app in the market makes it also the most complicated to use. If you are an individual with no experience in finance you will find yourself overwhelmed with all the different moving parts of the software.
4. GoodBudget – Best Cash Users
This platform offers a very basic approach to budgeting, so basic that it does not even offer access for credit/debit card synchronization. Keep in mind that even though this lack of connectivity might be a deal breaker for most individuals, it can also be the reason why cash based individuals would prefer it over other options.
After analyzing how the platform works and what it can do, it’s easy to see why so many individuals vouch for their service. When reviewing good budget you need classify it under its own umbrella, it certainly won’t be the go-to option for most individuals, but for those looking to get a digital version of a traditional approach, it is simply the best possible choice.
The principle idea behind this company is to modernize how we used to save utilizing cash and envelopes. With this model you will create envelopes and the app will help you track its balances and it will also allow you to create envelopes based on your bank accounts.
The two major setbacks of this platform are that cash is risky, carrying cash in our modern society has disappeared for a good reason. The second is that most of the transactions will need to be updated manually, this requires commitment from the user in order to make it work.
If you are not an individual who feels comfortable managing cash you should remember that there are many other different options available in the market. The reason we present this name is to provide a broader range of services to choose from. In reality, the company offers a great service in a very simplified approach, it is just simply not for everyone but that does not mean is a bad option.
- Price: The basic account which offers 10 envelopes is free, a higher tier is available at a yearly cost of $45
- Recommended for: Cash Users
- Application: The platform offers a simple platform that will help you track your expenses by classifying them within “Envelopes”, this a super rustic approach but you would be surprised by how disciplined you can become from following this method
If you have been having a hard time sticking with your budget because you use your credit/debit card for nonbudgeted expenses, then you might want to reconsider a cash budget. In synthesis, if you run out of cash after paying for all your known expenses, then it means you have maxed your budget. In order for this approach to work you truly need to commit to it.
- Tangibility: One of the consequences of plastic money is that spending becomes less tangible, I can assure you that if you have to pay bill over bill you will start respecting more your money. Once a transaction becomes tangible and you have to count the money, you will see how it becomes less probable that you will fall into unnecessary spending. Sometimes it is helpful to get on the right track and gain back the right vision of money.
- Discipline: Make this a challenge for you. Picture your self following your own budget, take only the necessary cash and see how it goes. It will definitely not be easy at first but instead of getting frustrated trying to see it as a game. The better you become budgeting the less you will spend and the more you will save(If you don’t feel fully comfortable at first, carry your credit cards with you as it will assure you that if your budget was not correct you will still be able to do your payments).
- ATM Dependency: Even though withdrawing money will take an individual less than a minute, it should be mentioned that with this approach you will depend fully on being able to get access to cash as it will be the only paying method utilized
- Risk Associated with Cash
- Plastic Cards Rewards: If you are used to taking advantage of miles and cash back rewards for utilizing your credit cards, you will miss all these perks because cash will not give you any!
5. YNAB – Best option for a Simple Budget
If you are interested in receiving instructional support on how to approach your finances and any struggle within them, then YNAB might be the app you have been looking for. Keep in mind that the firm follows a very minimalistic approach on how a budgeting app should work.
The app will allow you to develop your own budget and will help you monitor both income and expenses from your bank accounts. Please note that even though it automatically pulls information from your banks, you will have to update your budget manually.
It is important to mention that simplicity is the main concept behind this app. If you are interested in a more dynamic model for budgeting you should look for another option, otherwise, YNAB will offer you a reliable and user-friendly platform that will help you achieve your goals and will make you a more disciplined individual.
- Price : $6.99 a month
- Recommended for: E
- Application: E
- In Depth Analysis: The firm delivers a considerable microanalysis of the income and all the outgoings of your accounts. This is what makes YNAB so great, the level of detail is simply unbeatable.
- Customizable: The structure of your budget and also how you are planning on managing them will be your decision, this allows for a great level of customization, making a budget that will fit each individual necessities and expectations
- Safe: Even though you will be connecting the platform to your bank account, the access is given to the platform only allows for reading privileges. You can sleep well at night knowing that no one can get unrightfully access to your funds.
- Guidance: The firm does not provide enough guidance for a nonfinancial individual to develop a proper budget. Keep in mind that starting your first model will probably be the most difficult part.
- Simplicity: While it might be its best characteristic for certain individuals, its simplicity can be a problem for anyone interested in a more sophisticated approach and budgeting model.
As mentioned above, the hardest part of budgeting is usually starting developing the habit and the discipline of following it through. Commitment is one of the key elements in order to succeed with a budget, if you are not planning on being strong enough to respect the rules that you decided for yourself then there is no reason to even try.
Over time you will start noticing that the rules have become easier to follow and that following a budget could even be a fun and dynamic practice. The best advice I can give you is to avoid living without a budget, saving money and investing is 100 times harder if you don’t have an already planned structure to follow.
The money that you will be able to save will allow you to live a less stressful life knowing that you have enough to live and that your expenses are well covered. You will be surprised by how much you can save with the right budgeting plan. Stop thinking about it, choose an app and give it a try!
1. What is the overall best Budgeting App?
Our favorite platform based on its app, service and also its price is Mint. Even though it is not the most complete and powerful of the offering, it is certainly the one the offers the overall best and most well-rounded platform in the market.
2. How is Budgeting different from Planning?
In synthesis they are both the same, as they give your money orders of where to go, avoiding any wondering of where it actually went. Many advisors prefer to use the word spending plan as a budget is usually associated with a negative connotation of punishment. Remember that you want to create a plan of where you want your money to go, it is your money.... you should be the one calling the shots deciding what should go where. Over time you will see how gratifying this can be!
3. Should I budget for unexpected expenses?
One of the main reasons why individuals start budgeting is to help them save more money, effectively allowing them to be more ready for any type of situations. Keep in mind that life is not static, as we don't have a crystal ball to predict the future, it is important to leave a buffer within our budget. This space will allow you to contemplate enough money and to start saving in case a none expected situation takes place. Having an emergency fund will help you sleep better at night, as mention before things broke and life happens. It is better to be prepared than having to pass a hard time dealing with a situation due to the lack of it.
4. Can I save money with an active Budgeting App?
A budget will allow you to have a clear path and guidance for your expenses. If you manage to follow your budget properly, you will be able to avoid expenses that were not planned and that otherwise would make you exceed your available funds. Imagine starting the month knowing how much money you will have in the end if you respect all the rules. This might not sound like much but eliminating uncertainty out of the equation reduces a lot of stress that might be affecting other areas of your life.
5. How expensive is it to use a Budgeting App?
There are literally hundreds of different budgeting apps available in the market. This means that chances are you will be able to find the option that will fit your necessities the most. With modern apps, there is no reason to spend large sums of money in a financial advisor to develop a budget for you. Apps from this list range from zero up to $45 a year, this proves how cheap it is to utilize a budgeting app. Keep in mind that even if you decide to go for an expensive app, the savings that you will have from having a budget will surely surpass the cost of it. The average American can save up to $3,000 a year by simply following a budget.