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20 Best Free Budgeting Apps To Help You Manage Your Money

20 Best Free Budgeting Apps To Help You Manage Your Money
Diana Star Sep 22, 2018
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Many people have trouble saving and managing their money. According to CNBC, most Americans have less than $1000 in savings. While different age groups play a role in those statistics, people of every age could agree that saving money is hard.

Emergencies happen, it is easy to forget to make a budget every month, and managing money is time-consuming. There are solutions, though, including many sophisticated apps and programs that make managing your money seem effortless.

Financial Software & Programs

If you like managing money online and on your desktop, these programs can help you set up a budget, manage investments, and reach those savings goals. Some also have apps that can make entering transactions on the go a lot easier.


My family has used and loved YNAB for over five years, and it was instrumental to us getting out of debt. YNAB’s unique philosophy behind money management is probably what makes it so captivating to those who choose to use it.

When you budget with YNAB, you budget the dollars you have in your bank account today, not what you project you will earn throughout the month.

By doing so, users more easily break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and experience financial freedom since you are not relying on future money to make today’s spending decisions.

The philosophy is centered around their “Four Rules” which include only budgeting the money you have, saving for emergencies, and accounting for “true expenses”, such as car registrations, subscriptions, and other odd purchases.

When you save for all the true expenses you have throughout the year, you won’t be scrambling to pay the yearly insurance bill or forgotten Amazon Prime membership fee. This more effectively keeps you out of debt and gives you more control over your money.

YNAB is more expensive than other programs, at $83.99/year. They do offer a free, 34-day trial and a money-back guarantee. Also, they offer a wide variety of free, online classes that explain the system and how to better manage money, whether or not you choose to use YNAB.

2. Mint

Mint is a very popular budget program whose parent company, Intuit, is well-known in the finance world. The beautiful design and ease of use make it a really great choice.

Mint allows you to connect to your bank, then pulls transactions into your budget easily. Once you enter all your login information, the program automatically categorizes everything and can create a customized budget for you.

In addition to creating a budget, you can track investments, pay bills, check your credit score, and enjoy bank-level security. Running low on funds? You can opt into alerts so bills do not go unpaid. Went over budget on your last splurge? Mint will let you know.

Perhaps what users enjoy most about Mint is its price – free. You can access the software online or through iPhone and Windows phone apps, making it an easy, affordable choice.

3. Personal Capital

If you need a tool that offers more focus on investments and financial planning, Personal Capital is a go-to. Within the interface, users can track, budget, and manage their daily financial picture.

Personal Capital also offers several different planning and tracking tools. Quickly track your net worth, spending, account performance and other metrics completely for free.

If you want some help deciding how to move investments around, you can opt into a paid advisory service. There are fees involved depending on your account balance. Opting in gives you access to advising services that can help with taxes, advice, insight into your spending, and investment strategy.

Personal Capital is free to use for budgeting and most services. If you want more detailed help, that will cost depending on the services you choose and the amount of money you have invested.

4. EveryDollar

Started by Dave Ramsey’s company, EveryDollar promises to be a quick and easy budgeting solution. The friendly, clean interface makes budgeting less stressful and simple.

Enter the projected income you think you will make, plan out the expenses you anticipate, and your budget is complete. Throughout the month, track your spending, and see how your spending matched up to your plan.

EveryDollar has a unique feature – all of the budget categories are color-coded and shown as a percentage of your overall budget. This beautiful visual helps you to gauge if your spending is in line with your priorities.

If you see that 30% of your income goes to eating out, you can reevaluate if that lines up with your goals or not, then adjust if needed.

EveryDollar is accessible online and through mobile apps. It is free to use for the basic version. They do offer an upgraded version which costs $99/year and allows you to connect your bank to your budget.

5. Mvelopes

An upgraded version of the classic envelope budgeting system, this sleek and sophisticated software will help you effectively budget your money.

The goal with envelope budgeting is that your entire paycheck gets broken up into “envelopes” (or categories). With the traditional method, this would usually be cash. Modern users of the envelope system can still enjoy using debit or credit cards and other forms of online payment.

Mvelopes helps to bridge the gap between a totally paperless system and users who have relied on tangible envelopes and cash for years.

The system helps you to identify your goals, long-term spending, and also uncover any hidden spending. If you plan out where your money will be going ahead of time, rather than reacting to the spending you already have done, you will feel more in control.

The site is comprehensive, with a step-by-step plan to get to financial security, along with coaching available as well. Plans begin at $4/month for basic access and go as high as $59/month if you want coaching included.

6. Quicken

If you need a comprehensive, all-in-one solution for your finances, Quicken is an excellent solution. Budget, manage money, pay bills, and handle business transactions in one convenient interface.

Connect your accounts and quickly create a budget. Quicken easily categorizes all of the transactions in your accounts so you get a better feel for where your money is going. Keep track of your bills automatically as well by importing into Quicken and organizing by due date.

Own a rental property or small business? Quicken can help you manage invoicing, expense tracking, and reminders. You can even use your own branding.

Everything is protected under bank-level security and you have storage to back everything up as well. Plus, if you decide Quicken is not for you, the data you enter is yours forever and you can always access it.

Quicken offers a wide variety of pricing, depending on the product you need. Starting at $34.99/year for the basic version, the home business version is $99.99/year.

7. PearBudget

If you do not need a fancy budget and want something easy to set up, check out PearBudget. Created by a husband and wife team, they describe PearBudget as a simple, easy solution that is less complex as other programs available.

It is totally free to set up a budget based on your income, bills, and savings goals. The process of setup is 5 steps where you are walked through checklists based on your income, bills, savings goals, and expenses.

One really nice feature is that you are not asked for any banking or account information. While some people enjoy the sync features that other programs offer, some simply are not comfortable giving that information out to third parties.

PearBudget solves the problem of needing a simple software without any type of sync with your bank in order to work well. If you are happy with PearBudget, you can try it free for 30 days. After that, it is $4.95/month.

8. MoneyDance

This software helps you to budget, track investments, pay bills, and manage your accounts all from your desktop. If you are looking for something that will provide an analysis of your finances, this is a fantastic choice.

After you get everything set up, download the transactions and MoneyDance will put everything together. Using graphs with pop-ups for further detail, you can see exactly where your money has been going.

Like to pay bills online? You can do that through MoneyDance, along with making sure all of your account registers are updated. Create a budget, then you will be set to manage everything the way that works for you.

MoneyDance also allows you to track your investments. Track value, performance, and see current pricing for various holdings options.

To use MoneyDance, you make a one-time purchase on their website for $49.99, then download and get started.

9. PocketGuard

PocketGuard offers more than just budgeting, although you can do that as well. With this handy app, track purchases, see what you have available instantly, and find ways to reduce your bills.

When you connect accounts, PocketGuard categorizes everything for you and creates a custom budget based on past spending. Adjust based on personal goals and go.

Once PocketGuard understands your bills, the app will go through to see if there are any areas that could be optimized. Simply tap in the app and it will negotiate a lower deal on your behalf.

One dynamic feature is the “In My Pocket” section. This calculates the money you truly have available as the app learns what your upcoming bills will be and what your income is. Using this helps to prevent overspending and avoid any accidental overages.

PocketGuard is free to download. If you wish to upgrade to the Plus version, which gives you access to more features, it is $3.99/month or $34.99/year.

10. Simple

Offering bank accounts, mobile banking, budgeting, and goal setting features, Simple aims to be just that – a simple way to manage your money.

When you sign up for a bank account with them, you will receive a normal debit card, direct deposit capabilities, and all the features of a normal account. They are branchless and do everything online, so if you like physically going to your bank, this may not be the best choice.

They offer a budget option, along with the ability to track larger bills and save over time for them. Make sure you never overdraft with their Safe-to-Spend feature that tells you if you really have that money available or not.

Share accounts with partners, and easily set your goals together for the month. When everyone is in sync, it is much easier to effectively manage and save money.

Simple is totally free to use and they do not charge fees typical of a bank, such as overdraft or low balance.

Financial Apps

Saving money can be hard. These clever apps can help make saving feel effortless. Track spending, analyze finances and reach goals quicker.

11. Acorns

Acorns is a micro-investing app that helps you save spare change. When you make a purchase, Acorns will round up your purchase to the nearest dollar, then save those pennies for you.

All your spare change gets invested in a portfolio and grows as you invest. You can opt to contribute more to the investments as well.

Shop through select retail partners and they will pay you for using the Acorns app. These include major brands such as Apple, Lyft, Walmart, and Sephora. Offers are available to redeem as well from these retailers, so you can maximize your earnings.

As you round up your purchases and invest in your portfolio, you can become more conscious of your spending, saving, and investments. This will help you to spend more deliberately while earning money on the purchases you make every day.

Acorns does cost monthly at $1-3.00, depending on what features you wish to utilize. Once you have $1 million invested, Acorns is free. While that may be a lofty goal, Acorns aims for everyone to have financial freedom, so they make it affordable to use.

12. TipYourself

Similar to Acorns, this is a fun app that allows you to reward yourself in the form of savings when you complete a goal. Set any goal you want, then tell TipYourself that you have finished it. The app then auto transfers a predetermined amount of money to your accounts. Easy savings.

TipYourself is popular since it is based on a reward system that you create for yourself. Set whatever rewards you wish, and TipYourself handles the rest. There are no fees either, so there is no risk to transferring small amounts.

Once your tips to yourself are transferred, they are stored in the “Tip Jar” for you to withdraw back to your account whenever you are ready. Make saving for a vacation, Christmas, or another special occasion more fun by tipping yourself.

TipYourself is totally free to download and to use.

13. Digit

If you want a truly effortless saving experience, try Digit. Simply tell Digit about your bills, income, and expected expenses and Digit automatically calculates how much you can safely save that day.

Set up short or long-term spending goals, then have Digit split up the daily savings between each goal. Before you know it, all your goals will be funded and it will feel almost effortless.

As a fun incentive to save, for every 3 months that you use it, Digit will give you a 1% bonus. In the event that Digit saves too much leading to an overage in your account, don’t worry. They will reimburse the fee for you.

Digit offers a free trial, then costs $2.99/month after that.

14. Qapital

Another goal-based savings app, Qapital offers rounding up of your purchases, similar to Acorns, then uses those amounts to fund whatever you want.

Establish various “rules” that Qapital can follow, such as rounding, saving one particular day of the week, save less than X dollars and save the remainder, and so on. Qapital follows those rules, then optimizes your savings.

If you are not happy with your current bank, Qapital offers checking accounts as well.

Qapital is completely free, there are no fees whatsoever.

15. ClarityMoney

Offering an analysis of your finances, ClarityMoney helps you really figure out where your money is going every month. Forget that you joined a gym? ClarityMoney will find those recurring charges and help you cancel the ones you no longer need.

While this helps you save money, it also is very convenient so you do not have to handle those details yourself. You can set savings goals as well, then make sure everything matches the budget you create for the month. Take control of your finances and feel better about buying that latte.

ClarityMoney offers so much analysis that they can even suggest new cards or financial products that may interest you. Their AI is constantly working to make sure your money is maximized.

ClarityMoney is totally free.

16. Albert

Definitely a one-of-a-kind app, Albert is both an app and advisor in one little package. Offering an analysis of your spending habits, Albert will save small amounts for you like other apps.

Albert also features budgeting, debt payoff suggestions, and retirement planning. Have a question? Text Albert Genius for a quick reply to your financial questions.

Albert Genius also analyzes bills to see areas where you could save or ways you are missing out on savings.

Right now, Albert is available for iOS, but an Android version is coming soon. Albert is free to use.

17. Clink

Another great app option, Clink auto transfers money based on rules you set up. Choose to invest a dollar a day, a percentage of transactions, or other rules you wish. Clink transfers that money from your account and puts it into an investment vehicle, earning you more money.

Many apps use lower-return savings accounts to earn you returns on your money. Clink uses Exchange Traded Funds, which could lead to potentially higher yields.

Clink is not free – it costs $1/month to use.

18. Grand

For a really unique incentive, check out the Grand app. For every dollar you save, you earn an entry into a weekly drawing. Winners receive cash and 1000 winners are chosen every week.

Choose a set amount of money to save in your Grand account. It will be transferred there and earn interest. Keep it in your account until you want to withdraw. It’s that simple. The more you have, the better your chances to win a big prize.

Prizes vary in size, but they go up to $25,000. Their goal is to make saving feel effortless and fun. Who doesn’t want to win cash?

Grand is free for one month. After that, it is $2/month to use.

19. Rize

A fairly new app, Rize aims to offer a higher-interest return on any money that you save with them than most other apps and banks. Users earn 1.65% APY as of this writing.

Rize transfers money when you get paid and allocates it based on your particular savings goals. Want to save up for a new car? Rize helps you do that in a specific, methodical way.

Like the spare change approach that other apps take? Rize can do that as well. They incorporate multiple ways to save to make sure that you are maximizing your chances to save every dollar possible.

Rize is free but operates on a donation basis. If it becomes valuable to you, they encourage donations of whatever amount you feel is fair based on the value you are receiving.

20. Chime

Another app that offers banking, Chime helps you manage your money through automatic saving, an online bank account, direct deposit, and a debit card.

Save automatically when Chime rounds up your transactions to the dollar, then saves the change. You can opt to save a portion of your paycheck as well.

Chime has direct deposit with the ability to receive your pay two days earlier than normal. They make your money available as soon as it is deposited so that you do not have to wait on it to clear.

Chime has no hidden fees and they have access to an ATM network to easily access cash on the go.

Final Thoughts

While managing money is difficult, it is also important. Coping with the inevitable emergency, dealing with job loss, or other life circumstances can be handled much better when you have a healthy savings account.

If you do not already budget or save, check out a few of these options to find a good one that fits your needs and helps improve your financial health.

Diana Star

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