Multiple apps will keep your wallet happy.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled the top five apps for budgeting:
Best for Personal finance newbies
Perhaps the most well known, Mint allows users to create budgets, track bills and receive a free credit score. But it’s the budgeting feature where Mint shines the most. It asks you to link your bank, loan and credit card accounts, and then uses information from those accounts to suggest budgets for you based on your spending, classifying them such as “Entertainment,” “Food & Dining” and “Shopping.” The best part? You’ll be able to see how much you can save by cutting back your spending in a category.
At the end of August, Mint announced an app refresh with data-driven “MintSights.” Again, using your actual financial information, MintSights will provide personalized recommendations, from creating a first budget to debt consolidation to how to grow your investments.
Unfortunately, Mint discontinued its bill pay option in June, so users are unable to pay their bills through Mint. However, they can still add their bills, track the due date and amount, and mark bills as paid. Unlike other apps, Mint is free to use, but it makes money by suggesting offers to its users, such as new credit cards or other investing apps.
Best for: Visual learners
Aptly called “You Need A Budget,” the service asks users to “give every dollar a job.” First, users are asked to set a budgeting goal, such as a vacation or education expenses. Then, they must fund their goal by linking it to a personal account (checking, savings, cash, credit card, or line of credit). If you choose to link your account, your balance will be automatically imported into the YNAB debt manager.
Finally, users are asked to create categories (think “dining out,” “groceries” or “transportation”) and to allocate a certain amount of money toward each so that they aren’t overspending (and are saving for that vacation or tuition bill). The service claims that it saves new budgeters $600 by month two on average, and more than $6,000 the first year.
The only downside? After a 34-day free trial, YNAB charges $6.99 a month, billed annually at $83.99.
Best for: People who want to set it and forget it
Dying for an app that takes the math out of budgeting? Albert would be the best choice for you. After connecting your financial accounts to the app, Albert analyzes your income, spending, budget, and overall financial health. It uses proprietary algorithms to decide how much you can safely save each month, then automatically transfers that money into Albert Savings, which lives directly in the app.
These transfers occur up to two or three times per week and range from $5 to $30 per transfer. Funds held in your Albert Savings account are FDIC insured up to a balance of $250,000. If you prefer to have a more hands-on approach with your savings, you can ask Albert to set aside a specific amount each week. These funds can be withdrawn at any time with no fees.
New to the platform is Albert Genius, a paid premium service. (Albert asks users to pay what they think is fair for Genius, but suggests a minimum of $4 a month and says most users pay $6 a month.) The service allows users to text money questions to Albert’s human financial experts at any time, such as “Should I buy or lease a car?” or “What’s the cheapest mover in LA?”
Albert also pays users a small reward for saving money. The app pays a bonus of $1 for every $100 Albert Genius subscriber save over a year, and a bonus of 25 cents for every $100 non-Albert Genius subscriber save.
Best for Wannabe cord (or subscription) cutters
Clarity Money offers a wide array of features that will benefit budgeters and savers alike. Similar to the other apps, Clarity Money requires users to link their financial accounts (savings, checking, credit cards, investments, or loans). The app immediately creates a pie chart displaying your finances and showing when you overspend.
It will then identify your recurring expenses, such as Netflix accounts or gym memberships, and track price increases or reductions. The big draw is that it helps cancel unwanted accounts that are a drain on users’ wallets.
Like Albert, Clarity Money Savings also allows users to transfer and save money in a non-interest bearing, FDIC insured account. Users select how much and how often they want to save. Users are also able to access their free VantageScore credit score from Experian.
One thing to note, Marcus, a brand of Goldman Sachs, acquired Clarity Money in April. The app is still free to use, but it will soon be integrated into Marcus, which offers no-fee, fixed-rate personal loans, and high-yield savings accounts.
Best for: Envelope system purists
The concept is simple. Goodbudget takes your monthly income and allows you to put aside portions of it into different envelopes for categories like groceries or transportation. As the month goes on, you can take money out of each envelope for each expense. Stop spending in that category once you’ve emptied the envelope–or before, if you’re smart.
Goodbudget takes away the hassle of putting actual cash in paper envelopes and instead allows you to track your spending online or in its app. You can either opt for the free plan or the plus plan for $6 a month or $50 a year. With the free plan, users get ten regular and ten annual envelopes. Plus plan users have unlimited envelopes and access to email support.
While this app is excellent for those who like to see a breakdown of where their money is going, it takes discipline to use the app successfully. No fancy algorithms are showing you how much to save, but it does help you gain control over your money.
Source: forbes.com Kristin Stoller
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