We all know that keeping your budget balanced can not only help you stay on track financially, but can also reduce your stress when it comes to money and your long-term financial health. But if your system includes a messy folder of receipts or wads of cash in various purses and wallets, it may be time to reconsider your strategy.
If your focus is more squarely on saving your money and counting every penny, we can help with that, too. There are countless ways to save – and we’re not just talking about coupons or keeping tabs on your bank account via your bank’s mobile app. There are savings apps for everything from investing to ultra-personalized budgets to custom savings plans.
We compiled the best spending trackers, money management apps, budgeting apps, spending trackers, free budgeting apps, and tools for money managing, so you can get a better handle on your daily, monthly, even annual spending habits. So read on, and prepare to have the control of your finances literally at your fingertips.
If you’re still figuring out how to make a workable budget for your lifestyle, these four tools could change your mindset – and your net worth.
The Best Budgeting Apps and Spending Trackers for iOS and Android
Here are our picks for the “best” money management and budgeting applications for most people. Depending on your preferences and life situation, these apps may not work great for you, which is why we included the rest of the list for you to explore and choose from.
Mint.com is another fan favorite when it comes to money managing apps. It helps you manage your spending, saving, budget, and earnings, and can even sync to all your accounts, from your 401(k) to IRA to savings accounts.
Another major draw to this popular free budgeting app is its intuitiveness. Mint is organized as to give you a big picture view of your financial situation. It shows you all the recent transactions you’ve made, how you’ve been using your accounts, your account totals, monthly budget, credit score, spending organized by category, and even alerts for when you go over budget. Another bonus? Mint sends you a free credit score when you sign up!
Mint also shows you how your cash is moving in real time, like your credit card debts, investments, expenses, and deposits. This can be especially helpful to those who use their credit cards for all purchases, helping you stay aware of how much money you really have each month. If you prefer to use cash, you can still take advantage of this feature, you just have to manually enter each purchase made with cash.
We also love how Mint is a spending tracker. It analyzes your spending habits, then helps you drill down on categories where you’re spending too much, and need to cut back. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t check your accounts daily, you can set up a low-balance threshold with Mint, and when you hit it, you’ll get an alert Mint is free, and available on iOS, Android, and Windows.
BillGuard is another great money management tool. This popular budgeting app has two main purposes: to help you completely understand your spending habits, and to protect your cards from fraudulent charges, two very important goals when it comes to tracking your spending.
First, you sync the app to your bank accounts. Once synced, BudgetGuard shows your total balance, plus how much you spent this month. Using a Tinder-like swiping motion, you account for every single transaction, ensuring you actually made those transactions and that they are fraudulent. (Swipe right if you did in fact make this transaction, swipe left if you didn’t and the app will guide you through the process, which includes options such as: Help Me Recognize This, Report/Contact Merchant, or Follow Up Later.
If you choose the latter, that transaction will show as flagged on your list until you deal with it appropriately. After swiping and accounting for each transaction, you can do to the All tab, which shows each transaction, along with merchant, amount, and date. Pretty standard right? But the app takes it one step further: Try the analytics button, which breaks down spending per category, as well as the News Center, which shows any security breaches.
The Rest of The List
If our picks above didn’t work out for you, we encourage you to check out the other apps below. Everyone has different preferences, lifestyle situations and more, so there is no “one size fits all” choice.
An addictive money tracker, The Birdy works like this: You reply to a daily email the money managing app sends you with a list of transactions you remember from the day, and it immediately provides you with an illustration of where all your money goes. Think: handy – and pretty – pie chart. This spending tracker is free, and doesn’t require a password.
You Need a Budget
All about controlling where your money goes (otherwise known as cash flow) the DIY budgeting app You Need A Budget is a money management app that’s relatively easy to use. You enter your monthly expenses and income, and – boom! – it tells you how much to save. It’s as easy as that. While this savings tool costs $60, plus $5 for the mobile app, free trials are available.
Spending trackers can be complicated. That’s why we love Adaptu. This money management app offers may tracking tools and user generated-content, while the iPhone app, (which is free, a definite plus,) is a bit simpler. It considers balances and bills, then tells you exactly how much you can spend.
A big part of financial health is planning, not just budgeting. HelloWallet helps you do just that. This budget app requires about 30 minutes of your time, inputting your details. Then it provides an individualized plan, like a road map, to increasing your net worth. This budgeting tool costs $9 monthly, which includes a free iPhone app.
Formerly known as EEBA, GoodBudget is a budget app for those just starting to follow a budget based on their cash flow. GoodBudget makes use of the age-old envelopes system, having you digitally allocate your funds into different “envelopes” each month in order to divvy up your monthly spend.
SImply divide up your monthly budget into each category: think: Entertainment, phone bill, student loans, credit card payments, you get the idea. You can also set up recurring payments for those expenses that regularly appear in your budget. What’s even better is you can set these recurring payments to weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
GoodBudget can help you more deeply understand your spending habits – and understand the lingering question many of us face: Just where is my money going? This budget app is also ideal for freelancers, or others who don’t receive a regular paycheck. You can select the app’s “irregular” option, which helps you track cash flow that isn’t routine. For example, you might have a “ski vacation” envelope set up that you contribute to bi-monthly, or when you can.
GoodBudget is free, and available on iOS and Android.
Speaking of envelopes, Mvelopes is another great spending tracker. You being setting up the budgeting app with a few questions about your financial goals. While it shouldn’t replace a traditional financial advisor or planner, it can help guide you through how to think about growing your money long-term.
Next, you sync Mvelopes to your bank accounts. Mvelopes then begins working directly with your financial institution, and starts tracking every last credit and debit transaction.
Once everything is synced up, Mvelopes starts using its namesake envelope system, which is similar to GoodBudget. However, Mvelopes first has you complete a budget and define your income before you start “filling” your envelopes. This paints a more realistic picture of how much you can spend on certain things, what you actually have in your accounts, and what a reasonable budget is for you. Think about it this way: With Mvelopes, you’re spending based on a budget, rather than your net worth – or how much you have in your accounts.
Mvelops is free and available on iOS and Andriod.
A more visual approach to tracking your spending, Pocket Expense is another useful money management app. The budget tool first tracks your spending, then creates a visual representation of your spending – all before creating your budgets.
This spending tool doesn’t sync with your bank accounts, so it requires that you manually enter all transactions. So this is not the ideal tool for you if you don’t want to do a log of legwork. You enter your account balances, followed with how much you spend. Pocket Expense color codes those numbers – green for money you have and red for debts or bills you need to pay.
A strength of this budgeting app is you can add multiple accounts, so it’s ideal for those who like to keep several different checking and savings accounts. You can see a breakdown of how much you spend versus how much money you have in the app’s calendar tab, which shows all (color-coded) expenses for the week, day, and month. You can also set up a budget, in the Budgets tab, then check back periodically under the Charts tab to see the breakdown of your spending. Pocket Expense is free and is available on iOS.
If you want a budgeting tool that’s easy to use, simple to navigate, and color-coded to boot, the HomeBudget just may be your dream spending tracking app.
HomeBudget’s home screen is clearly divided into categories: Expenses, Bills, Income, Budget, and Account, along with their dollar amounts. Immediately below, you see a chart that shows both your total income and your total balance, then three more tabs: : Payees, Reports, and Search. This app is different than others in that all the information you need is right there on the homescreen, ideal for those who may not be so technically-advanced.
HomeBudget is also easy to use, especially for freelancers. You can enter your client’s info into the description section, and organize by category or date, making sorting a cinch. If you have clients or those you pay regularly, you can add them to the Payees section, as well. You can also see your financial “big-picture” reports under the Reports section. This spending app also has the capability to show your month-to-month spending, budgeting, and accounts.
But what we think is the app’s best feature is the search tab. Let’s say you want to find a client’s last invoice, but you can’t remember the exact date or amount. Just search the client name, and -voila! – you have all the info you need. HomeBudget is available on iOS ($4.99 and free for lite version) and on Android for $5.99.
Expensify, which has both a smartphone and web-based tool, is another easy-to-use, and easily navigable spending tracker, perfect for freelancers. Its interface is divided into four, easy-to-use sections: SmartScan, Add Expense, Track Time, and Track Distance. One of the tracking tool’s best feature is the SmartScan option, which lets you take a photos, categorize and save receipts electronically, adding them to expense reports when necessary. No more trying to keep track of countless, messy receipts!
You can also input the info manually. Just input the merchant name, amount spent, and date. It’s that easy. You can also denote if the expense is billable or can be reimbursed. This money management app is extremely useful for freelancers who travel by car. You can track miles driven, or simply turn on your location services and let the app do the work for you. Track Time is another great option, which you can use to keep track of your hourly earnings.
You can even add your credit or debit card to the app, so you can more accurately track your total balances and daily expenses and earnings. In short, this tool offers both large- and small-scale snapshots of your financial health. We can’t argue with that. Expensify is free and available on iOS, Android, and Windows.
If you’re not one for budgets, and have a hard time using them in general, then Level just might be the spending tracking tool for you. Instead of organizing your budget on a monthly basis, Level automatically updates during the day as you spend or deposit money, then updates with you periodically with how much cash you have left to spend. It boasts a beautiful design, as well, making it even easier to use.
You start using Level by syncing your savings or checking accounts to the app. The tool then tells you how much you have left in your account after what you’ve spent that day, then uses your average daily spend to estimate how much you can spend in the next week, month, you get the idea. What’s even better? If there is not enough money in your account to continue spending as you have been, Level lets you know.
This budgeting tool also has a useful Insights section, which can help you track a certain category of spending. Test it out with a category deemed coffee, then Level will help you figure out how much your daily jolt is costing you. Here’s how: Level will take your average daily spend,use it to calculate an average monthly spend, then a projected annual cost, if you continue to spend at the same rate.
Level also shows you a balance chart for your bank account, which illustrates how your bank account will look (good or bad) if you continue to spend at your current rate. Level is available on iOS and Android.
If your financial goal is to save for a specific purpose, then Unsplurge may be the ideal savings tool for you. The app helps you focus on your goal from a visual perspective. When you first download it, you answer one simple question: What are you saving for? You enter your answer, then upload a photo that best visualizes what you’re working for. Say it’s a new house, upload a picture of your dream home. Or you want to take an extravagant vacation? A photo of an over-the-water bungalow in a tropical locale will do.
Unsplurge also has a unique, community-based section called Town, where you can see what others’ savings goals are. You can search the Town section for most popular posts, trending posts, or posts from people you follow. It’s undoubtedly helpful to see what goals others are working toward, and really makes you work toward your own saving goals.
Unsplurge also gives you savings tips – like saving $1 a week for a year – which also can help jump-start the savings process. Unsplurge is available in iOS.
Toshl Finance creates a customized spending plan or budget. Just pick your preferred time frame (options are weekly, monthly, biweekly, monthly, or annually), then choose your start date. Then, you manually input every expense and earned income. It’s that easy, and ideal for those who may shy away from using technology when managing a budget.
The app, though not the most aesthetically pleasing, presents your finances in an uncomplicated, straightforward way, complete with categorization tags on each expense. What more about you really ask for when it comes to a spending app? Toshl Finance is available on iOS, Android, Symbian, and Windows.
Daily Budget is another clean, simple and minimal app that makes managing your money as simple as possible. The tool gives you a daily budget for you based on your expenses and income, as well as what percentage of your income you want to delegate to savings.
It then breaks down that number into a daily and monthly percentage, which shows you exactly what you can spend. It also gives you a daily budget goal, which makes achieving your goals much easier. Available on iOS.
Meant for both savings and taking it a step further into investing, Acorns is another great money management app. Acorns uses a “round-ups” system, which essentially rounds up either your debit or credit card transactions to the next dollar and invests the difference.
It chooses how it invests your money based on your net worth and annual salary and your risk tolerance. This tool is ideal for those with an interest in investing but who may be confused by the financial jargon or just want to start on a smaller scale. Available on iOS and Android. What are your favorite budgeting tools, spending trackers, or investment tools?