Let’s face it: the back of your checkbook just can’t cut it anymore when it comes to managing your finances. Everything is done digitally nowadays, and staying analog in a digital banking and finance world can work against you.
The good news is a ton of online options exist to make it really easy to track your expenditures, calculate budgets, and manage your investments, all in one place. If you’ve been concerned about starting to budget digitally, we’ve narrowed it down to the best apps with easy user interfaces.
Anytime you download an app it’s important to verify that free means free. Many apps will be free to download, but then require that you pay a monthly fee to have access to the tools you want to use. If there is a specific tool that you’re looking for, verify whether that is included in the free version or not before you download. Most of these apps are designed to be really accessible, so most monthly fees — if necessary — will be very manageable (and often worth it.)
Rocket Money (Previously Truebill)
The PennyHoarder — a well-respected finance blog that many people turn to for money questions — recommends Truebill as the Best Overall Budgeting App. Truebill is free, but if you opt for some premium features it could cost between $3 to $12 each month. The app walks you through the process of calculating and creating an “allowance” so you know exactly how much money you have to spend each month. You can set up goals for categories you want to keep a close eye on, such as eating out at restaurants or travel savings. The app also offers additional helpful features, like tracking what percentage of your spending goes where every month, or you can even receive alerts if you’re headed towards overspending.
One tool that really sets Truebill apart from the others is its subscription management feature, which automatically checks your bank account for any recurring charges. This has been a game changer for people who have tons of subscriptions, but who may have lost track of how many they have along the way. Another sweet bonus is that if you have a high cell phone or cable bill, Truebill can negotiate it down to a lower rate for you (they’ll just take a cut of that savings for the first year if the bill is reduced.)
Another highly rated budgeting app is Intuit Mint. Mint was one of the first apps for anyone looking to keep better track of their finances, and while it remains a good, solid option, it has fewer bells and whistles than some of the newer apps. That said, the app is a true all-in-one for managing your personal finances, as it allows you to connect to your bank accounts (so your transactions are recorded versus having to input every single one,) watch your income, and track your spending. Many people find that the free version is more than adequate, but for only $4.99 per month you could access the premium tools such as automatic subscription cancellation or spending projections.
Simplifi is touted as one of the best budgeting apps in the market. Backed by Quicken, Simplifi has a simple-but-sweet layout and the design makes it feel as if money management could be a relaxing enterprise. This app offers all of the same features of Mint and Truebill, but it also allows you to connect all of your financial data, meaning banks, credit cards, loans, and 401k accounts. From there, the app has a ton of options in terms of setting goals and varying methods of tracking your spending habits. They’ll even compare the overview of your planned spending versus what you actually spent (which could be horrifying, but edifying all the same.) Additionally, if you want to save for a big purchase or plan for retirement, Simplifi will calculate how much money you need to set aside each month to meet your goal within an allotted time frame. The only catch is that Simplifi costs between $4 and $6 each month, right off the bat. There is a 30-day free trial, but we have a feeling that if you give it a go you’ll want to invest in the expenditure anyway.