where smart, efficient and effective budget apps can carry the day.
good budget app can take away the mystery - and the complexity - of managing
your personal financial life. It can shine a light on specific trouble spots in
your finances, like excessive credit card debt, a lack of savings for
retirement, or spending on things you don't really need, like gym memberships
or that loaded cable television package, among other items.
of a budget app as an Apple (AAPL) watch for your money
life. Instead of reporting the time, and your heartbeat on a light jog, your
budget app can tell you how much money you have coming in and going out, and at
what rates that cash crossover is occurring.
budget apps make the grade as the best in class? Try these 11 selections on for
size, each of which brings the strengths common to great budget apps to the
table, along with unique features and benefits that really make them stand out:
not to like about Mint? The budget app syncs to your bank account and tracks
all of your incoming money, and all of your outgoing money. The app easily
creates a personal budget for you, tracks your bills and provides alerts so
you're never late paying a bill, and even reports your credit score
on an ongoing basis, along with special tips and strategies to boost your
credit profile - without having to use a credit card. The app works across
multiple personal financial platforms - your bank account, credit card account,
even your brokerage and retirement savings account - all on a secure platform
from the people who gave you QuickBooks and TurboTax. Mint is free of charge to
Feature: Mint takes your budget seriously, issuing
you alerts when you're spending too much money, and going over your budget.
budget app is built upon a single premise - you can actually invest your spare
change and improve your financial situation doing so. Acorns is a great
budgeting tool as it takes any extra cash you have laying around - from
spending or from extra dollars in your checking account - and invests it for
you in a portfolio created and managed by investment experts. Let's say you
spend $49.10 at the grocery store - Acorns takes the "spare change" -
the 90 cents, and invests it for you. Imagine all of your loose change being
put to work for you each month. Easy-peasy, right? The cost is $1 per month,
until your Acorns account hits $5,000 - then the charge is 0.25% of your Acorns
Feature: Acorns is rolling out its own debit card
that will not only round off and invest your spare change from card spending,
but it also gives you free ATM transactions across the U.S.
budget app acts as your own personal financial advocate, studying your debts
and bills and recommending strategies to curb those bills and do a better job
of paying down that debt. PocketGuard tracks and records all of your spending -
even that $5.00 latte at the coffee shop - updating your transactions as they
happen, and provides not only a snapshot of your outgoing cash, but also a
strategy on cutting better deals on ongoing debts like your cell phone or your
auto insurance. The app is visually appealing, with plenty of
easy-to-understand charts and graphs that break down your financial picture for
you. After a free trial, PocketGuard costs $3.99 a month, and $34.99 for the
Feature: The app builds your own personal budget for
you, based on your income, your debts, and your future financial goals.
you're looking for a mobile financial app that does budgeting, and only budgeting,
Wally is your man. The app does what good budget apps do - balancing your
income and expenses and giving you a glimpse of where your money goes and why.
Wally offers extra services like letting you know when a bill is due and when
you've reached a financial goal. The app is free of charge.
Feature: What's unique about Wally is that it focuses
on doing one thing - giving you a great budget tool - and doing it well. In a
market where bells and whistles are the rage, there's something to be said for
sticking to the basics.
5. Every Dollar
personal financial app, from financial guru Dave Ramsey, blends budgeting into
your bank account to give you a snapshot of where you stand financially, and
where you're going. With it, you can access multiple devices with bank-level
security, create unlimited budgets, track transactions against your budget, and
connect to your bank for faster expense monitoring. This budget tool is free of
Feature: The app is based on Ramsey's "Baby
Steps to Wealth" concept - if you're a fan, this apps for you.
6. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
want to put your money to work? Then give your cash an actual job, with YNAB.
The budget app enables users to create a personal financial budget that's
income-based, but one where each dollar in that budget is assigned a specific
task, like focusing on debt payments
or being steered into living expenses. This "bucket approach"
accounts for every dollar you earn and puts that dollar to work for you. YNAB
is free for 34 days, then it costs $6.99.
Feature: The app's debt payoff feature gives you a
great target to aim at, along with the adrenaline rush from knowing you're
getting closer to paying off a big debt.
couples, unmarried or living together under the same roof, Goodbudget is a
solid budget planning and management option. The app (it used to be called Easy
Envelope Budget Aid, which was a mouthful) enables couples to work together on
a household budget, and get proactive together about curbing household debt.
While the app is geared toward merging two different personal financial
accounts and scenarios, singletons can use Goodbudget, too. With Goodbudget,
you can plan for different financial categories via the app's
"envelopes", dropping money in and taking money out of the envelopes
as you need it. The app offers two plans - a free one for basic services and a
more advanced app for $5 per month.
Feature: It's got to be the "envelope
model", which allows users to open an envelope, fill it with money, and
use it for specific monthly purposes (i.e., eating out or buying gasoline for
your family vehicles.) Having your cash designated for one specific function
seems to be a developing theme for budget apps, but why not? After all, it
makes things easier for users, and that's what a budget app should be all
your app to your bank should also be a priority for mobile budget app users,
and CountAbout provides exactly that, and then some. CountAbout has deals with
thousands of financial institutions, so the chances are very good that you can
sync your bank account to the app. That allows you to track transactions, track
spending, and give you a head start on building a personal budget that works
for you. The app costs $10 per year (not per month) and an advanced version
goes for $40 annually.
Feature: CountAbout is the only mobile financial app
that allows you to sync to Quicken and Mint.
9. Clarity Money
financial app, recently purchased by Wall Street behemoth Goldman Sachs, (GS) is an elegant,
crossover way to track your spending and debt. The app features a dashboard
that tells you where you stand financially right now, an account screen that
lists your financial accounts that are linked to Clarity Money, and a screen
that lists and monitors your spending transactions. Everything is right in
front of you, making Clarity Money one of the best "all-in-one" apps
in the marketplace. The app is free of charge.
Feature: While there are several worthwhile features,
a favorite is the ability to save specifically for a single event - a wedding,
or a new car purchase.
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