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The Best Budgeting Apps for 2024

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Updated May 7, 2024

Managing your money is critical for your financial well-being. But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to budgeting, so you need to find a method that works for you. The following budgeting apps can help you do exactly that.

8 best budgeting software apps

Budgeting AppCostFeaturesUsabilityMobile AppLinks to accounts
Free
Net worth tracking, budgeting, and automatic categorization; you can add investment management services for an additional cost
Connects your savings, checking, investments, and retirement accounts
iOS and Android
Yes
$99 a year or $14.99 a month and free for the first 34 days
Follows zero-based budgeting, very specific in detailing where your money goes
Connects major accounts to track every dollar
iOS and Android
Yes
Free; Premium membership is optional and ranges between $6 and $12 monthly
Build a budget through individual expense categorization and create savings goals individually or with a partner
Connects to banking accounts and helps you cut unwanted subscriptions
iOS and Android
Yes
$14.99 a month or $99 a year
Create a budget with or without a partner (you can even invite your financial advisor); also tracks your investments
Uses AI to connect and monitor transactions
iOS and Android
Yes
$5.99 or $7.99 a month
Simple interface to track spending and create a budget based on expenses
Connect accounts and manually add transactions
iOS and Android
Yes
$3.99 a month
Tracks expenses to build a personalized budget using your preferred method, including zero-based, envelope, 50/30/20, and more
Imports banking transactions and adds flexibility with categorization
iOS and Android
Yes
Goodbudget
Free
Based on the envelope system to track spending and expenses
Manually add transactions and account information, doesn’t connect to accounts
iOS and Android
No
EveryDollar
Free, or Premium version is $17.99/month or $79.99 yearly
It has a zero-based budgeting option that offers budget customization and savings tracking
It doesn’t sync accounts unless you pay for the premium version
iOS and Android
No
Zeta
Free
Uses the envelope system for families and couples who want transparency with family finances
Syncs with bank accounts; single and joint accounts available
iOS and Android
Yes

Methodology

We evaluated dozens of budgeting apps based on cost, usability, user experience, and user reviews. These are some of the best apps on the market.

How to choose a budgeting app

Because there are so many ways to budget, it’s important to find an app that works with your preferred budgeting method. Here are some things to consider when choosing a budgeting app.

Figure out your preferences

There are a number of different budgeting styles, including the 50/30/20 rule, zero-based budgeting, pay yourself first, and the envelope method. Many budgeting apps and software programs use some form of these.

Remember that it’s okay to change apps even after years with the same one. You aren’t the same person you were five, 10, or 20 years ago, so why should your money management style stay the same?

2. Make it both detailed and general

A good budgeting app allows you to get both a general and detailed view of your finances. You should be able to see how much money you have coming in and what’s expected to go out every week or month, to gauge whether you’re on the right track. At the same time, you also need to examine different budgeting categories and individual transactions, so you can see precisely where you’re spending your money.

3. Flexibility matters

While not everyone is a fan of automatically syncing accounts to your budgeting app, it makes building a budget much easier when you can see everything in one place. The more account options you can add, the better your chances of knowing where your money goes.

You should be able to easily add accounts and set up budgets. Depending on your app, you may have to tweak and change as necessary. For instance, if you get a new car, you’ll want to update your car payment budget. If you get a raise, you’ll want to increase your income as a line item in your budget. Find an app that lets you update as needed.

Alternatives to budgeting apps

Not everyone wants to use an app to manage their money. This includes people who worry about being hacked. While most budgeting apps are secure and use many different ways to protect your personal and financial information, there is always the potential for fraud, and that can be a deal-breaker for some people.

If a budgeting app isn’t right for you, here are some other options for managing your money.

Pen and paper

Sometimes you just need to write it all out. This can be time-consuming, but some people may like the simplicity of using a pen and paper to budget.

Start by listing all your money coming in. Then total your fixed expenses, such as utilities, rent, or mortgage. Add in your car payment, insurance, and any loans. Don’t forget your minimum credit card amounts and necessities, such as food, medicine, and clothing. If you have any subscriptions, such as streaming services, newspapers, or websites, make sure to add those as well. Be sure to include any regular contributions to retirement and savings accounts.

Write out any purchase or payment you make. Track your money for a few months to see where it goes, then adjust your budget as necessary. You can use your budget to create or update your financial goals, whether it’s to save for a big purchase or vacation, pay off debt, or sock away money for retirement.

Spreadsheet

Create a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs, then lay it out with the pen-and-paper method. Track all the money coming in and going out. Some folks create new spreadsheet pages for each month, while others update the same page as needed. How you use it is up to you.

There are plenty of free and low-cost templates online for you to utilize. Tinker and change as needed.

More on budgeting

Why is budgeting important?

Budgeting makes you more financially aware by helping you better understand where your money is going. When you stick to a regular budget, you can see your income and expenses and keep track of your spending. Budgeting can also help you stay on track with your financial goals, make it easier to reduce your debt, and help you prepare for financial emergencies.

4 tips to budget effectively

Pick a budgeting method you can stick to

There are different approaches to budgeting, but some require more work than others. For example, a zero-based budget asks you to create a job for every dollar, so things can change every budgeting cycle. If you prefer a simpler approach, you might want to consider a 50/30/20 budget, which is more straightforward.

If you’re spending too much, cut up your credit cards

Credit cards can be a powerful financial tool when used responsibly. But if you’re struggling to manage your credit card debt, extreme measures may be required. One option is to take your credit card out of your wallet, so you won’t be tempted to spend. Some people have been known to cut up their credit cards.

Don’t be completely hands-off

Some budgeting apps make it too easy. Even if you’ve automated most of your budgeting, it’s a good idea to review the results regularly. Staying involved with your budget will increase your chances of success. Whether you use an app or do it the old-fashioned way, zero-based budgets are great for staying on top of every dollar.

Try using a budgeting app

If you have trouble sticking to an old-fashioned pen-and-paper budget, consider using a budgeting app like the ones covered in this article. The right app can save you time, and take the work out of budgeting, making it easier to stay on track. Several top budgeting apps are free to use, and many come with additional features, such as goal setting, bill negotiation, and joint budgeting, to help you reach your financial goals.

Pros and cons of budgeting apps

Pros:

  • Most apps save time and are easy to use
  • Account syncing allows you to see everything in one place
  • Built-in tools can help you reach your financial goals

Cons:

  • Sometimes you learn more by doing things manually
  • You need to find an app that follows your preferred budgeting method
  • It’s easy to get overwhelmed by features you don’t use

TIME Stamped: Budgeting is crucial to your financial well-being

Creating a budget is vital to your financial health, and budgeting apps can make it easier to stay on track. However, there’s no one budgeting method to rule them all, and apps aren’t right for everyone. Try to figure out what will work for you, and if it fails, try again. The most important thing is to get started, whether for the first or fifth time. Being ignorant of your monetary situation can only lead to disaster. Remember, knowledge is power.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the 50/30/20 budget rule?

The 50/30/20 budget rule assigns 50% of income to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings.

What are the best free budgeting apps?

Our list includes free budgeting apps Empower, Rocket Money, EveryDollar, and Goodbudget. The first two are arguably better because they allow for connectivity to bank accounts.

What’s the best budgeting app that doesn’t link to a bank account?

Goodbudget and EveryDollar are the only two apps on our list that don’t link to bank accounts, though the latter has a premium version that does if you pay for it. The former uses the envelope budgeting method, while the latter employs zero-based budgeting. Which is best depends on what you want.

Is Rocket Money or Mint better?

It doesn’t matter which is better because Mint closed at the end of 2023, so it’s no longer available. Rocket Money is certainly a plausible alternative, as are some other apps.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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