If you’re like most of us, one of your resolutions for the new year include financial goals. Whether saving more money, paying down your debts, or just getting more organized so you can find those “money leaks,” a budgeting app can be a lifesaver. However, with so many apps to choose from, it’s often difficult to decide what you need – or what you should even expect from a budgeting app. LegitLender took the guesswork out of this process with a review of the best budgeting apps for 2018, depending on your particular needs.
MINT (Android, iOS)
Mint is one of the most popular budgeting apps – and for good reason. It lets you create budgets, track and pay bills, and even check your credit score. If you don’t mind sharing your financial information, linking your checking accounts, credit card accounts, bills, investments, etc., with Mint provides a robust view of how much you earn, how much you have, and how much you owe. Up-to-date tracking allows you to see changes in real time. Many consumers like the idea of having their income and bills in one place so they can see and pay them in one place. You can schedule payments and also receive payment alerts. Mint also sends alerts when your funds are low, or when a transaction it deems suspicious has been noted.
The app also allows you to create budgets based on your spending habits, and easily view how much you’re spending on a month-to-month or year-to-year basis. If you have no idea how to get started, Mint will also suggest budgets that you can use as-is or customize to fit your lifestyle.
Along with the ability to get your credit report for free, the app will explain how it was calculated, provide tips for improving it, and send alerts when the score changes. If you link your investment portfolio, Mint shows your asset allocation across various investment accounts, identifies unnecessary fees, and makes recommendations.
If you want all of the bells and whistles – and you want them for free – Mint offers everything you need to manage not only your budget, but each area of your finances.
BUDGET BOSS (iOS)
If you like intuitive interfaces, Budget Boss provides plenty of graphs and charts to help you create and monitor your budget and also set savings goals. However, since the app does not link to your banking account – you will have to enter your information manually, which may be a positive feature if you don’t like the idea of apps accessing your financial information. You can also integrate Budget Boss with your calendar. The app lets you view how much you spend on food, housing, transportation, etc. over the course of a day, week, month, or year, and set bill payment reminders. You can also project how even small changes can affect your budgeting and savings goals on a short-term or long-term basis. In addition, Budget Boss allows you to create PDF reports, as well as export data to Excel. Budget Boss is not as visually stunning as some apps, but if you prefer a simpler platform, this free app fits the bill.
YNAB (Android, iOS)
The You Need a Budget app actually supplements the You Need a Budget platform. After connecting your bank accounts, you can easily view information on the app. YNAB allows you to create budgets and also sends warnings when you’ve overspent in certain categories. It’s interactive, with graphs and pie charts, to easily view your goals and progress. Information is updated in real-time to keep you up-to-date.
Whether you don’t know how to make a credit card payment, are confused on how to reconcile your accounts, or struggle importing a file from your bank, YNAB offers a plethora of troubleshooting help documents. There is also a YNAB support forum to answer questions, and discuss such topics as saving, money and relationships, and investing and retirement. Weekly videos, podcasts, and newsletters are additional sources of financial advice and tips. YNAB is free for 34 days – after that, it is $6.99 a month.
DIGIT (Android, iOS)
If you need an effortless way to save money, Digit boasts that it allows you to save money without thinking about it. Based on your income and how much you spend, Digit calculates how much you can afford to save – and automatically transfers a few dollars to your Digit savings account. Of course, this requires connecting the app to your checking account. Since you’ll have a Digit savings account, you can keep it separate from your regular savings account.
What makes Digit different from a typical savings transfer is that it doesn’t take a certain amount out of your checking account on a specified day (for example, a $100 deduction on the 1st day of every month). Instead, Digit analyzes your spending habits to determine the right time and the right amount to transfer. If that sounds risky, the app does a lot to minimize the chances of a financial mistake. For example, the transfers are typically small and most range from a couple of dollars to less than $20. There is also a no-overdraft guarantee. However, the guarantee only covers up to two overdraft charges. After 3 months of saving with Digit, you’ll receive a 1% savings bonus. While Digit is free for the first 100 days, there’s a $2.99 monthly charge to continuing using the app.
LEARNVEST (iPhone, iOS)
One advantage of LearnVest is the various options available to consumers. While the app is free, you can also choose to work with a financial planner. Going the free route, LearnVest is similar to Mint in terms of the numerous features that help you track spending and saving over a short or extended period of time. It also helps you to set and achieve financial goals, and determine how long it will take to pay off credit cards. There’s a knowledge center that covers such topics as how to budget, the basics of saving, credit card and debt payoff tips, and also information on insurance, estate planning, loans and mortgages, and taxes.
If you want the help of a financial planner, there is a $299 set-up fee, which can be paid in 2 monthly payments of $149, or 3 monthly payment of $99 – and then a $19 monthly fee. Financial planners can help you figure out how to pay off debt, plan for retirement, understand investing, and recalibrate your plans as necessary.
As you can see, the best budgeting app will depend on your needs and financial goals. However, this list can help you decide which features and price point are most important.