Sitting down to create a budget can be daunting. Sticking to it can be even harder. But when it comes to achieving your goals — whether that’s owning a new home or taking the vacation you’ve always dreamed about — mapping out a budget is an important first step. Luckily, there are plenty of smartphone apps to help you harness the power of technology to optimize your finances (and help you keep momentum along the way).
This popular budgeting app from Intuit touts its ability to help you manage your financial life all in one place — so it might be a good fit for anyone who is ready to really examine their finances and look at the big picture. Link your bank account and the app will automatically suggest some sample budgets for you based on your spending habits. Another compelling feature, the app’s website notes, is that you’re able to create and adjust as you go. Within the app you have easy access to your credit score, plus you can set up alerts to let you know when bills are due or if you’ve gone over the budget limits you set. Best of all, it’s free and available for Android and iOS.
You Need a Budget
The You Need a Budget (YNAB) app describes itself as the ideal tool for anyone who wants to “stop living paycheck to paycheck, get out of debt, and save more money.” According to a Business Insider review, it’s good for anyone looking for flexibility — though users should be prepared to have to account for every dollar that is spent. Sync your bank account, then assign each dollar you have to a category, such as food, housing, or clothing. As you begin to track your spending, you might find that you actually spend more in one category and a lot less than you thought in another. YNAB makes it easy to re-budget based on any newfound knowledge, plus it’s free for the first 34 days (and $6.99 per month after that). It also offers personal support via email, plus access to live daily budgeting workshops and podcasts.
Wally is a free personal finance app that is available for both iPhone and Android. It aims to be a simple, intuitive budgeting tool and, according to its website, “helps you compare your income to your expenses, understand where your money goes, and set and achieve goals.” You can sync your bank accounts (the app supports all currencies, too) and take pictures of receipts for your records. The downside? There’s no web app just yet, so you’ll have to be comfortable exclusively using your smartphone.
Ever heard of the budgeting technique that involves using envelopes filled with cash in order to keep track of your expenses and ensure that you don’t overspend? The method is to create a rent envelope, a food envelope, an entertainment envelope, and so on — and once the cash in an envelope is used up for the month, you’re done spending in that category. The Mvelopes app for web, iOs, and Android takes this same concept and negates the need to hit the ATM. “Mvelopes combines time-tested envelope budgeting with the latest technology and support, helping you make better financial decisions,” says its website. Users can set up virtual envelopes and sync bank accounts and credit cards. Transactions are automatically uploaded, so you’ll always know how much there is left to spend in each category. Mvelopes offers a free 30-day trial, and a tiered pricing structure after that (pricier options include access to one-on-one support).
The Spendee app is a good option for anyone who wants to keep things a little old school while still having the ability to take their budget on the go. Users have the option to sync a bank account, but it’s not required like with some of the other apps out there. (The downside is that you’ll have to input your details manually.) According to Forbes, you can even connect accounts with your spouse. After all, you’re in this budget together!
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