Become more financially stable and improve your credit rating with these handy budget apps.
Overspending is a part of life for many people. Living paycheck to paycheck is a constant worry and can seriously affect your mental health. Maybe it’s after the holiday season and you’ve overspent on gifts with your credit card. Or, perhaps you’re still paying off a hefty student loan. The truth is there are plenty of reasons why money becomes an issue.
Facts & Figures
If you haven’t managed to stick to your new years’ resolution, or you’ve suffered financial hardship; you’re not alone. The latest data released through The National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) in April 2020, reports 46% of individuals in the U.S. lack a rainy day fund. Moreover, 19% of households who participated in the survey spent more than their income.
With these shocking facts, it is clear that many Americans cannot afford to cover their expenses for three months if they suffer financial hardship. So, how can you prevent yourself from falling into debt and experiencing a lack of income? One simple trick is to create a budget, often doable with personal finance apps and or a money management app.
A New Kind of Budgeting
If you’re unsure where to start or feel you don’t have the time, there is good news; budgeting is no longer a drawn-out process. Gone are the days of handwriting amounts into a notebook and adding them up by hand to keep a good budget.
Thanks to a variety of budgeting apps available for your smartphone, it’s a lot easier to manage your finances anywhere and everywhere. That leaves you stress-free and confident you are living within your means. Financial apps help you to understand your finances easily by showing you your incoming and outgoing expenses in one place. Also, they allow you to update and amend your budget regularly; keeping your finances healthy and your savings on track. Ready for full debt payoff?
Best Budget Apps of April 2020
If you want to become financially competent and start spending less than your income, we’ve rounded up some of the best budget apps of April 2020. These money apps are easy to use, free to download and have a range of features. By using this budget software, you are giving your personal budget a much-needed health check and pay bills on time. Read on to find out more.
Mint: Free budgeting apps to improve your finances
One of the leading budgeting apps on the market, Mint is free to download and allows you to view all your bills in one place. Mint works by conveniently displaying your available cash, credit card debt, and investment amounts in real-time. As such, you can manage your finances more effectively and prevent any unexpected bills that could put you over your spending limits for the month. So, what’s included?
Up-to-date account information all in one place.
Mint connects to almost any U.S. bank to view your balances safely and securely. Balances are regularly updated so you can stay on track. The handy visual guides show you your “Spending by Category” for more financial insight.
Create different budgets for short- and long-term goals.
One of the best features of the Mint app is it allows you to create budgets and offers tips on where you can save money. Want to save for Christmas or that much-needed vacation? Mint is smart and calculates your monthly spending so you can see your patterns month-to-month and year-to-year.
Using a handy line graph, Mint lets you see which category you spend your income on most. For example, you might not realize how much your commute is costing each month. Mint’s clever visual prompts and hints will help you make positive changes to save money by alerting you to areas where you can make improvements. Also, if you’re planning on saving money for a one-off expense, Mint displays what’s left of your daily, monthly, and yearly budget. This is a great tool to make you aware of your spending decisions and increase your chances of having money left over for any emergencies.
If you have money to spare but don’t know if you should save or invest long-term, Mint provides plenty of hints and tips that help manage your finances. By analyzing checking accounts, savings, brokerage, and other financial accounts, Mint will recommend the best course of action to help you reach your savings goals.
Pay your bills on time and improve your credit rating
One of the main pitfalls for households is remembering when bill payments are due. One slip can damage your credit rating. Mint helps combat this stress with a built-in payment tracker. View all your bills in one place without the need to log in to multiple accounts. The optional notifications alert you when your next bill is due so that you can make that payment on time, every time.
Free credit score checking
Keeping on top of your bills is one way to improve your credit score, but how can you check where you are on the scale? There’s no need to download another app or pay for the privilege. Mint has a free credit score checking service you can use whenever and wherever you like. This feature helps you maintain full control of your future finances.
Sign up for Mint
Have you ever wondered what your net worth is right now? The Personal Capital app works in real-time, so you know the information you are seeing is the most up-to-date snapshot of your finances.
What can you manage with the app?
Personal Capital is an award-winning app that is available for mobile, tablet, and desktop, keeping you in control at all times. The app allows you to view information on the following:
- Bank and investment holdings
- Spending habits
- Investment portfolio performance
- Investment allocations
- Sector weighting
- Current bank balance
- The value of your home
Don’t worry if you won’t use all these features. The point is, it’s so in-depth, you won’t need to use another service to manage your money again. Personal Capital has easy to use management tools, making it more straightforward to keep track of all aspects of your financial worth. By using this app, you will be able to see more ways you can save money, all within one safe and secure app.
Budgeting tools to keep you on track
There are plenty of tools to help you manage your budget. Use the Spending Goals tool to set a monthly spending target within the app. This will motivate you to stay within your limits each month, helping you spend less than your income and have room for saving. With a simple color-coded design, you can see how healthy your finances are at a glance; blue = within budget and red = over budget.
That’s not all, see updates on your daily, weekly, and yearly budget goals with a swipe of your finger so you can make adjustments and stay within budget. The user-friendly system lets you view your total spending split into categories, for example, mortgage payments, restaurants, and general. You can easily see which category takes up the most money each month and aim to reduce areas to improve your budget.
Optional extras for people with investments
Budgeting isn’t only for short term goals; Personal Capital helps you plan for your retirement with a handy Retirement Planner tool. See how much your current spending habits affect your retirement funds. You can also view your investment accounts and receive a free Investment Checkup with up-to-date information on your portfolio’s current allocation and ideal target allocation. Pair with the Fee Analyzer tool to check that your portfolio is earning the maximum amount without being subjected to any hidden or high-value fees.
How to download Personal Capital
YNAB (You Need A Budget)
Created in 2003 by a young couple who needed to budget, YNAB understands the everyday struggles of living paycheck to paycheck. Starting as a simple website, they have developed a helpful app to help you track your spending and prevent you from going into the red.
From humble beginnings to a budgeting dream
Aimed at people who already have debt, which is most adults who have ever attended college! YNAB app is a scaled-down version of the website for your smartphone or tablet. By creating a colorful and playful app, YNAB has ensured you won’t feel overwhelmed on your quest to achieve financial security.
All you need to do is sign up for YNAB on the website by following the instructions below. Because it links to most U.S. and Canadian banks, your finances can be viewed securely through YNAB without the need to switch between accounts. If your account is not able to be linked automatically, you can add it manually, including all your transactions. Manually adding account transactions may take time, but at least your budget will be up to date.
The best budget app for families and couples
One convenient feature of YNAB is that you can share financial information with a partner, so you can view any joint accounts you have on separate devices. Payment alerts make sure each partner is aware of the other’s spending, and your budget remains intact each month.
Aim high and achieve budget enlightenment
Set up goals so you can see how much you need to save and where you can cut down on spending. The app offers helpful advice and tips through support and inspiration from the YNAB team and resources that make budgeting easier to manage.
Easy to understand displays
Not only does YNAB offer support, but it also displays simple graphs and charts to make it quick and easy to view your spending. Using a forward-thinking approach, YNAB works by assigning your income to different spending categories. This way, you know how much you have left to spend on luxuries or put towards your next savings goal. This app is simple but effective and, based on user reviews, it certainly helps a lot of people achieve financial control within the first few months of use.
The cost of the app
The downside of the YNAB app is that it is not free. After a 34-day free trial, the price of the app is $84 per year (around $7 per month). If you are already in debt and trying to spend less, this may not sound great. However, with an entire month to figure out where you’re overspending, you will likely recoup this cost, so it’s worth considering. Don’t forget, if it’s not affordable, you can always cancel the service before paying for the subscription.
How do I sign up?
The PocketGuard app is available on Android and iOS and is completely free. It works by connecting your checking, savings, and credit accounts to create a smart budgeting tool to keep you in total control of your money. Packed with features that keep your finances organized and up to date, the app works with secure connections to give you full security, just like your regular banking apps. Here are some of PocketGuard’s features
After you’ve downloaded the PocketGuard app and connected all your accounts, you will be asked to confirm your recorded income and recurring bills. If the information isn’t correct, the app will let you amend the figures so you can be sure you are working with accurate amounts each month.
Start saving like a boss with savings goals
PocketGuard allows you to create savings goals to get your finances in order. You may think you have little to spare each month, but you might be pleasantly surprised. By using state-of-the-art algorithms, PocketGuard will make suggestions based on where you spend the most money. You could save from $30 upwards each month by making little changes to your spending habits. Pair this with the “In My Pocket” feature, and you can make sure you don’t spend over budget each month.
Visual aids to support your financial ability
Like most budget apps that link your banking accounts, PocketGuard shows your transactions in various categories. You can view your monthly spending in a visually pleasing and straightforward pie-chart, which shows all your expenses. When you’ve spent too much in one category, PocketGuard’s visual spending charts can save you from a budget-breaking disaster.
Spending limits to keep you within budget
Setting a spending limit on specific categories will help you manage your spare cash more efficiently. For example, if you find you overspend each month on take-out; setting a spending limit reminds you to remain within your budget. You can set these limits on several different categories at once to help you meet all your savings goals.
Tailor-made savings account suggestions
Once you’ve mastered your budget, you may have plenty of spare cash each month. The PocketGuard app will show you how to make your money work for you. There is a handy section that shows you the best savings accounts based on your situation. The helpful tips are individually tailored to you and are designed to improve your credit rating and help you pay off your debts sooner.
If you want an upgrade, you can sign up for PocketGuard Plus, which is a subscription service within the app. PocketGuard Plus provides added features like creating personalized spending categories, to help manage where your money is going and tracking cash that you spend and receive, making you more in control of your money. Do you have more than one goal in mind? PocketGuard Plus allows you to create as many savings goals as you like. You can even create short, medium, and long-term goals at the click of a button so you can stay financially stable for years to come.
How to Choose the Best Budget Apps for You
These free budget apps are just a few available on the market. There are plenty of others available with a wealth of features to help support you manage your finances. We chose these particular budget apps because they are free to use, although some do carry a subscription service after a free trial or to upgrade for more features. Due to these hidden costs, you must do your research when you look for a budget app.
We’ve put together a quick guide to help you pick the best budgeting app for your finances:
- If you’re in debt, start with a free budget app, do not spend more than you need to.
- If the app works by linking to your banking accounts, check that the app works with your bank.
- Check that the app is secure to prevent unauthorized account access.
- Keep your spending up to date to make sure your budget is on target.
- Try to manage your finances at least once a week to make sure you are within your monthly budget.
- Choose an app that allows you to view spending categories to see where you spend the most.
- Pick an app with real-time account information, so you stay up to date.
Best Budget Apps: Making Budgeting Easy
By following these simple tips, you can choose the app that is the ideal solution to manage your spending and keep you on top of your finances. Budgeting doesn’t have to be stressful and time-consuming. It may even become fun to watch your savings increase every month.
For more information on financial planning, check out our article on long-term and short-term goals. You can also get impartial advice from the government by visiting their website.
Do you already use one of these banking apps or have a favorite of your own? Let us know. We love to hear your success stories!