Personal Finance Apps: Budget Help is Just a Click Away
Aug 31, 2016 10:29AM
● By Jennifer Monahan
It can be both frustrating and disheartening to get to the end of the month and realize that your bank balance is hovering just above zero—again—and you cannot figure out where all the money went—again.
With the exception of a few spreadsheet-loving, budget-savvy financial gurus running around out there, most of us could use a little help with setting up a budget and tracking our spending. Luckily, some fantastic budgeting and personal finance apps are available to help.
One of the best online tools currently available is EveryDollar. It takes about 10 minutes to enter your monthly income and plan a budget for the first time. From there, users can record purchases from their phones while on the go. In addition to standard categories like utilities and food, the app allows individuals to customize a budget to include anything from family fun to pet care.
Budget allocations carry over from one month to the next, and users can add or delete particular categories to account for larger one-time purchases or events. The app syncs across devices, allowing spouses to see the same information using a smartphone, tablet or computer. One unique feature is the app’s ability to split a single receipt; for example, a $120 Walmart receipt can be allocated into smaller amounts for groceries, clothing and household items. EveryDollar is intuitive and simple to use. Other trendy apps with similar functionality include GoodBudget, PocketGuard and Mvelopes.
Fudget is a budgeting app lauded for its simplicity. Users also appreciate its flexibility in allowing budgets that match people’s pay frequency, such as a weekly or biweekly budget rather than just monthly spending plans.
Wally also receives accolades from users. Online reviewers like the way they can see a breakdown of expenses by day, month, location or number of visits to a particular store. The app allows individuals to save images of receipts for each transaction and to export data to an Excel file.
Mint is one of the pioneer financial apps, and remains among the most popular. Because the Mint app pulls information from a person’s various accounts such as banking, credit cards, retirement and investments, it provides a helpful snapshot of the user’s overall financial picture. While it can be used to create a budget, some critics complain that Mint actually makes budgeting too easy. One online reviewer noted that without having to enter each purchase manually, individuals do not “feel the pain” of spending. For anyone interested in tracking their spending habits, investments and credit score, though, Mint can be an extremely useful tool.
In addition to budgeting, apps can help protect and motivate individuals seeking a healthier financial life. Many banks and credit card companies offer apps to help their customers manage money via smartphone, and apps like Credit Karma facilitate easy monitoring of credit scores.
If you are interested in saving for a particular item—say, a trip to Mexico or a kitchen renovation project—the Unsplurge app can help keep track of savings toward that goal. Unsplurge has the added bonus of being a social app, where fellow savers cheer each other on as they make progress towards goals.
All the apps mentioned here are free and accessible via the iTunes Store, GooglePlay and the Internet. With so many resources from which to choose, the right budget and finance apps for each person’s needs are just a click away. Maybe there is hope that having the right budget tools could transform even a dedicated spendthrift into a budget ninja.