There’s never a better time than now to start thinking about how you manage your money. It’s hard to know where to start, though, especially if you’re young and have no idea what your Roth IRA or 401(k) is. Don’t worry, these days there are all sorts of ways to make smart investments and better plan your financial life — all directly on your smartphone. Below are some of our picks for the best budgeting apps, whether you’re looking to cut back on monthly expenditures, check your balance at a glance, or save up for something special.
If you’re struggling to save money, then you might find that automating the process works for you. Qapital is a clever, rule-based automatic savings app. You link it to your checking account and select a savings goal, then set up IFTTT (if this then that) rules to trigger the transfer of money every time you do perform a specific task. For example, it can put $10 into savings every time you shop at Walmart, Starbucks, or some other store. There are lots of different rules you can set up, such as the handy freelancer rule, which sets aside a certain percentage for tax every time you get paid. You can also set up alerts and it will stop payments when cash is tight to prevent you from getting overdrawn.
Do you want to know where you stand financially? PocketGuard can help you sync all your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, investments, and savings in one place. The app can build a budget for you automatically based on your spending habits. You can also use this app to track your income, bills, any subscriptions you have, create your spending limits, and see if you have reached your goals. The best part is that you can have the app analyze whether you’re getting the best deal on monthly payments and alert you about any unwanted charges or bank fees. You can opt for PocketGuard Plus for $4 monthly or $35 per year.
Want to win prizes for saving money? Grand may be the perfect app for you. Every week you’ll be automatically entered into a cash drawing for each dollar you put into your investment account. Every bank in the U.S. connects to Grand, and your deposits automatically earn one percent interest — much higher than the national average interest. Right now, Grand is only available via its website and the App Store, though we hope an Android app is in the works. And while the $2 monthly fee may seem a little steep, it may be worth it if it gets you in the habit of regularly saving money.
Spendee is all about understanding your finances. With this app, you can track your spending and budget so that you can save more money. You can connect Spendee to your bank account to track all your expenses, you can create a shared account with your family, and it supports multiple currencies. This app is free, but you can also choose to upgrade to Spendee Plus, which gives you the option to make multiple wallets and share them with your family members for $2 per month or $15 per year. There’s also Spendee Premium for $3 per month or $24 per year, which lets you synchronize Spendee with all your bank accounts.
If you’re looking for one of the best apps for investing small amounts of spare cash, you might want to try Acorns. This app can do the heavy lifting by investing for you automatically. It links directly to your bank accounts and credit cards. It can take little bits from your purchases every day and invest that money in a diversified portfolio of more than 7,000 stocks and bonds automatically. It’s also SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) protected up to $500,000 to keep your money secure. Acorns costs $1 per month for accounts investing less than $5,000. If your account grows to more than $5,000, the fee is 0.25 percent per year.
This app is all about keeping track of and getting a handle on your spending. It works across multiple currencies and banks. You can use this app to plan your financial future and keep track of all your expenses and income. The app is free, and it doesn’t require you to make any payments or enter any credit card information. If you pay a monthly subscription fee, you can sync your bank transactions and have them categorized automatically, create an unlimited number of accounts (there’s a limit of three with the free version), and get graph reports about the state of your finances across bank accounts, credits cards, and more.
If you want to stay on top of your investments, stocks, retirement savings, and bank accounts as well as budget your spending in a single app, then Personal Capital is the multiplatform financial portal for you. It’s also available online and on wearables. Rather than passively track your net worth across various institutions like Mint (see below), this free app actively compares your stocks’ performance to the markets in real time, thus allowing you to keep up to speed on your financial health. The app even provides access to a team of professionals who can offer more personalized advice to further grow your nest egg, though these optional services cost extra.
Money Lover is a free app that offers a clean, colorful interface and plenty of nifty features, but there is a downside. This budgeting app allows you to get very granular with your expenses, and automatically categorizes spending on food, drinks, games, and anything else you might buy, with cute pictures to boot. The app also tracks your income and spending in the past, present, and future months, with everything displayed in an easy-to-read format. The biggest problem with Money Lover is that the free version includes some annoying — and often times invasive — ads that clutter the otherwise splendid interface.
Mint, Intuit’s personal finance app, is a lifesaver in terms of keeping tabs on your overall financial health. This budget app links up with all your different bank accounts, loan accounts, and credit cards, and shows them all within a single, streamlined interface. This is especially helpful for finding specific transactions, so you can figure out which card or account you used to buy something at the department store. The mobile iteration of Mint also syncs with the service’s robust web interface and offers recommendations for new loan accounts and credit cards based on your habits. These features, combined with the app’s ability to show you upcoming bills at a glance, make it a standout.
Here’s another spare-change investment app. With Stash, you can invest in small increments — five dollars at a time, for instance — and across a variety of available portfolios, whether you prefer to do so manually or via automatic payments. The app is also built to accommodate the less-than-savvy investor, and as such, it includes educational tools that encourage you to develop smarter financial habits in the long run, so you can make sound investments and manage your money with aplomb. Stash will even help you discover companies that align with your values, so you can choose firms that are making strides in equality, ecology, and other issues.
Mobills promises fewer problems, with a simple interface and a vibrant display. Oh, and the charts! Did we mention the charts? Mobills offers plenty of them, whether you need a pie chart laying out all your expenses proportionally, a line graph measuring your income over time, or any other monetary metric you may want to encapsulate in a visual way. It even has a section for you to plan out your dreams, and see how long it will take to achieve them based on the money you set aside each month. The latter is a nice feature, at least until you see how long it will take you to save up for that vintage Westfalia.
Bills, bills, bills. Between utilities, mortgages or rent, student loans, streaming subscriptions, and all the other expenses of modern living, keeping up with your cash flows, whether in or out, can be a hassle. Prism helps you keep track of all your financial obligations with an easy-to-read interface and calendars where you can schedule your paydays and bill deadlines. One of the really neat things about Prism is that you can sync your accounts with companies you pay bills to — Prism claims it works with more than 11,000 billers such as Xfinity, Verizon, and so on — and your bank accounts, so you can get accurate billing statements and keep a perfect accounting of money you’ve brought in and money you’ve sent out.
Did you know that you can join family and friends to make a group purchase with PayPal? Read our take on Paypal Money Pools and find out what it is and how you can use it.