February 28, 2020
When we think of self-care, we usually gravitate to face masks, meditation, or getting more sleep. But financial wellness is self-care too! Putting more energy into having healthy finances not only helps you build a solid foundation and financial future, but it reduces stress.
The basis of financial wellness is arguably learning to make and stick to a realistic budget. Learning how to break down what money comes in, separating fixed and variable expenses, and considering investments, savings, and retirement are all part of budgeting. When a simple spreadsheet won’t do, budgeting apps can make life a lot easier by giving you a full picture of your finances and spending habits.
Best Overall: Mint
Mint is one of the most widely used budgeting apps out there. And for good reason. It offers a variety of features to help you track and manage your money. Plus, it has a large bank of financial institutions to choose from to link your accounts.
The interface is easy-to-use and is available in both mobile and desktop versions. The budgeting tracker is the first thing you see when you log in, which makes checking your progress is quick and easy. Mint automatically categorizes your spending and tracks transactions against budget parameters you create and will notify via email or push notification when you exceed them.
Best for the Basics: Daily Budget
Price: Free with paid in-app purchases
If sharing your bank info with an app makes you feel icky, Daily Budget is the app for you! Rather than syncing data from your bank accounts, you input your income and add expenses manually. Much like journaling, as long as you’re accurate and up to date with your transactions, Daily Budget allows you to track your daily spending and helps forecast how much you have available over the next few days.
While the interface doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, it feels manageable and approachable. You can still categorize spending, monitor trends, and add financial goals.
Best for Syncing with Others: Goodbudget
Price: Free with in-app purchases
Goodbudget is based on the envelope system, the practice of distributing your available funds into different designated envelopes for spending categories such as groceries or gas. Once you’ve exhausted all funds from each envelope, you’ve reached your limit for the month. Goodbudget takes this method and digitizes it. You are given 10 virtual envelopes for free and you can categorize your spending as you please. You can also sync your budget with other users (even across Apple and Android platforms), so if you live with a partner, or manage a household, you can easily contribute to and manage finances collectively.
Best for the Detail Oriented: YNAB
Price: $12/month or $84/annually
Although You Need a Budget (YNAB) is one of the only apps on here that you have to pay for, it makes the list because it is one of the most effective budgeting tools on the market. YNAB focuses on goal-setting and using spending patterns to look forward, rather than look back at last month. YNAB requires you to be proactive and disciplined, but helps you prioritize expenses through in-app goal setting and lessons that actually teach you about healthy spending. YNAB isn’t a set it and forget it kind of app, it requires input and empower you to take control of your finances.
Best Design: PocketGuard
Price: Free with some in-app purchases
PocketGuard is one of the easiest apps to set up and has a beautiful, simple interface that is easy to navigate. It tracks how much you earn, follows what you're spending on recurring bills and everyday expenses, and allows you to auto-deposit into your savings account over time.
What sets this app apart is that it also alerts you from overspending and missing payments. It scans and looks for subscriptions you may be forgetting and researches better deals for services you already pay for to save you money.
Best for Savings: Qapital
Qapital is a goals-based savings app with custom rules for saving. While this app still tracks spending and expenses like other budgeting apps, its true focus is saving. Saving ‘just because’ is fine but saving for something special is fun. Qapital helps you get there through goals, money missions, and rules to supercharge your saving with little effort and lots of fun. Plus, you can even team up with others to reach shared goals.
Best for Investors: Personal Capital
Unlike most of the other apps listed in this guide, Personal Capital is primarily an investment management tool, that also includes features helpful for budgeters looking to track their spending. A combination of robo-advisors and access to human financial advisors, Personal Capital allows you to set goals, monitor and track your investments in real-time, and learn about investing along the way.
The cash flow and budgeting tools are not quite as extensive as other apps on this list, but they work just similarly using the same automated tracking of purchases from linked accounts.
This communication is intended to convey general information only and not to provide any legal or accounting advice or opinions. An attorney or accountant should be consulted for specific information.