Best Personal Finance Budget App
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After another round of tests, Quicken’s Simplfi remains our pick. We recommend You Need a Budget (YNAB) for those who still track every penny with a zero-based budget.
Best Personal Finance Budget App
For some people, creating a budget is less fun (and sometimes unsuccessful) than starting a diet. For others, creating a spending plan can give them a dopamine boost. No matter where you are on this spectrum, a budgeting app can be a great tool to help you reach your financial goals. After another round of testing a dozen apps, we recommend Quicken’s Simplifi as the easiest and most comprehensive way to see where your money is going and plan for future spending.
Gain Total Control Of Your Money With Ynab
For those of you on a budget that forces you to account for every dollar in your bank account, we recommend You Need a Budget (YNAB). It’s not as easy to set up and use as Simplafi, but if you’re a dieter who tracks every calorie, YNAB’s zero-based budgeting approach might strike the right chord.
Simplafi combines an elegant and intuitive interface with reliable tools to track your expenses and plan future expenses. The apps we tested also had the minor banking connectivity issues.
Many budgeting apps are easy to set up, but ineffective when it comes to money management, or complicated and tedious enough to turn away anyone who doesn’t have a free week to review their finances. Simplfi thread the needle. It allows for seamless synchronization of your bank accounts and offers a number of useful tools and an intuitive design that encourage you to stay within your means. Our favorite feature is the Custom Spending Plan, which shows you in dollars per minute how much money you have left to spend for the rest of the month after accounting for your bills and savings goals. Simplfi isn’t free, but it’s cheaper than competitors with similar features. Also, having some skin in the game might compel you to stick with it.
YNAB has some sync issues and a steep learning curve, but remains a great option for limited budgets.
The Top Features All Successful Budgets Have
For a more rigorous approach to managing your money, a zero-based budgeting system that assigns every dollar in your bank account to a spending category or savings goal at the start of each month might be right for you. You Need a Budget (YNAB) is the best app we’ve found that supports a budgeting method or philosophy. The intricacies of getting the allocations right can take some time to truly understand, but this approach can be a huge boon for people who are fit: Your brain is wired to spend less. In addition to the steep learning curve, in our tests, YNAB had multiple sync issues with some banks. It also lacks some of Simplafi’s features, such as cash flow forecasts, desktop notifications, and real-time customer support.
Wirecutter senior writer Melanie Pinola researches and writes about home office products and technologies, including our guide to the best online tax filing software. For more than five years prior to joining Wirecutter, she wrote extensively on personal finance for sites like Lifehacker, SmartAsset and MyBankTracker.
Author Taylor Tepper has been involved in personal finance for nearly a decade and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fortune, Time, Money magazine, Bloomberg and NPR, among others. She won the 2017 Loeb Award for her work on the financial costs of mental illness.
If you want to live within your means and grow your money, the most basic rule of thumb in personal finance is: spend less than you earn and save the rest. (Or, put another way, make more than you spend and keep the difference.) It’s harder than it sounds, especially if you don’t track your income and expenses.
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A budgeting app for anyone who wants to better manage their finances without manually counting numbers in a spreadsheet every month. When linked to bank and credit card accounts, a budgeting app can automatically view all of your transactions in one place and usually generates helpful reports that categorize them for you and give you insight into your spending. We know that many people are concerned about the security and privacy of these apps; we’ll talk about that in a bit.
Does everyone need a budgeting program? NO. Using a detailed, category-focused budgeting system like ours isn’t for everyone, and these apps have their critics.
In Slate, personal finance writer Helen Olen explains why such a meticulous and demanding approach to personal budgeting can be wrong. The bottom line of her argument is that most people’s income and expenses change enough from month to month that budgeting is useless.
We sympathize with Olen’s argument and don’t think everyone needs a detailed budget. After all, what does it matter if you spend $100 or $200 less on wine this month than you did?
Best Budgeting Apps For 2023
A budgeting app for anyone who wants to better manage their finances without manually counting numbers in a spreadsheet every month.
There are two main types of budget apps: trackers (à la Mint) and zero balance. The tracking apps give you a 30,000-foot view of your finances, show your transactions in real-time, and require minimal effort to set up. Conversely, unbalanced apps encourage a no-nonsense approach by forcing you to account for every dollar you make (X amount for savings, Y amount for rent, etc.), but they’re clunky and expensive. We’d recommend Simplfi to most people because it’s a happy medium between the two. It tracks your spending, checking accounts, savings goals, and income history to estimate how much you have left to spend in any given month in any category you want. Spreadsheet-based budgets (and some other budgeting tools) encourage you to create countless categories and assign a dollar amount to each, which is not only painful, but also prone to failure. (Have a big bill coming up, like auto repairs or emergency dental care? Things like that can blow your budget.)
A combination of these approaches measures the behavior of many Americans. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, one in three American households have a detailed, written budget, and nearly two-thirds of Americans have some form of budget, according to Debt.com. (But both surveys are from pre-pandemic times.)
The main thing is to choose an approach that is convenient for you and suitable for your lifestyle. Both of our picks offer a free trial, so you should experiment before choosing an option. And if you don’t want to use an app, we’ve got tips on how to plan your budget for free.
Ultimate Budget Template For Google Sheets
Trust us, adding bank accounts and trusting apps with our financials made us nervous. As part of our research, in addition to reading the privacy and security policies of these apps, we contacted the companies we selected and asked them to answer a series of questions that addressed important privacy and security issues. Includes:
Many budgeting apps use a third-party service to integrate your bank information into the app; cheap apps let you read that data in one place. Third party services include Plaid and Envestnet | Yodley enters. These services have their own security policies and procedures, making it difficult to rate everything. But these companies are well known in the industry and are used by financial institutions to make their customers’ transactions easy to read. All claim not to sell or share personal information, just like your bank promises to protect your privacy.
What if something goes wrong and someone hacks into your account with one of these cheap apps?
The good news is that while a person can see a list of your transactions, they won’t be able to transfer money or access your bank account website directly. Bank credentials are not stored anywhere in the readable budgeting app.
Best Budgeting Apps Of February 2023
However, even if this information is private, you may not care if your financial transactions are leaked. That’s why we recommend that you properly secure any app you use, especially cheap apps and financial apps:
Remember, especially with free apps, the more services, features, and “partner interactions” an app has, the more susceptible it is to data leaks. An app may claim that its data collection is anonymous or cannot be traced back to you, but this is simply not true, especially without industry oversight from these apps. This is one reason why we advise against Mint if you have privacy concerns.
Here are the highlights of our picks’ answers to our security questions and links to their security and privacy policies if you’d like to explore more