The best budgeting apps are often the simplest. They focus on ways to make saving a breeze, and they can help to ease the pain in times of financial uncertainty. But how do budgeting apps work, and which are the best ones for iPhone and Android? What’s more, how can you tell what to look for in a good budgeting app?
We’ve hand-picked nine apps designed to simplify your monthly budget and help you stay in control of your financial goals. Read on to discover the best budgeting apps of 2021.
What are the best free budgeting apps for iPhone and Android?
With so many budgeting apps on the market, you might feel spoilt for choice. But after narrowing in on your specific savings goals, the choice becomes much easier. These free budgeting apps for iPhone and Android provide you with an entire budgeting tool kit. All you need to decide is which is the best match for your needs and lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at seven smartphone apps that are available for free.
Great for effortless budget tracking: Money Manager Expense & Budget
Money Manager Expense & Budget is a popular budgeting app for both iPhone and Android—and it’s easy to see why. After manually entering all of your income and expenditures, the app generates a variety of daily, weekly and monthly reports that help you monitor your spending effortlessly.
With Money Manager Expense & Budget, you can track your expenses against your projected budget by creating graphs within the app. These graphs help you quickly see when your savings goals begin to falter, so you can act quickly to change your spending habits.
This budgeting app also categorizes your spending, and you can extract all of your data to Excel if you want a pure look at your financial figures.
Great for tracking daily expenses: Daily Budget Original
One of the most appealing features of Daily Budget Original is how it makes budgeting fun. But this free manual-entry budgeting app can also help you get a solid understanding of your finances. It does this by helping you calculate and categorize your expenses, in addition to setting up your budgeting goals.
The app’s ease of use is up there with the best budgeting tools we've seen. We also love its friendly reminder of how much spare cash you have to spend each day in accordance with your budgeting goals. This marks it out from its competitors, which tend to show you how much you have to spend over the course of a month, rather than on a daily basis.
Great for a minimalist budgeting app: Wally
Wally focuses on budgeting, plain and simple. It doesn’t come with the additional frills common amongst many other budgeting apps. Launched in 2013 and available in over 18 different languages, Wally makes it easier to get to grips with your actual figures each month, without getting distracted.
One feature that sets it apart from most of the other budgeting apps in this article is how Wally integrates data directly from your linked bank accounts, creating a real-time budget based on the data it extracts. This means you don’t need to type in any income or expenditures manually—it does it all for you. Wally also allows you to include photos of your receipts, which is a great way of keeping track of your expenses, especially if you’re a freelancer.
Great for breaking your budget down into pie charts: Wallet
Founded in 2011 by Budgetbakers, this is a smart, clearly designed budgeting app that gives you an informed overview of your expenses. Unlike Wally, the free version of Wallet doesn’t pull data directly from your bank accounts. Instead, you add all of your income and expenses manually.
If the idea of manually entering all of your data isn’t too appealing, you can upgrade to WalletPremium for around €5 a month and it will extract all the data from your bank accounts for you. A word of warning: Wallet’s advanced features may not yet be available on the iPhone or the desktop versions, but Android users can enjoy the following:
Detailed financial reports, organized by account and accompanied by an array of different pie charts
Tracking of up to three different accounts simultaneously
Setting your budget saving goals, and being notified when you exceed your spending allowance
Great for budgeting on the go: 1Money
1Money is like the free version of Wallet, a manual-entry budgeting app in which you enter all of your transactions yourself. As you begin entering all of your daily expenses, the budgeting app will create a graph breaking down exactly where all of your money is going. From here, you can assign each expense to a particular category (for example, entertainment, groceries, sport), so you can see in which areas of your life you are overspending.
One of 1Money’s standout features allows you to swap between multiple currencies, which is particularly useful while on vacation or travelling for work. You can also set budgeting goals and sync the app across multiple devices, meaning that you can always keep up-to-date with your finances. And if you’re looking for an easy way to pick up a bit of local lingo on your trip, you could pair this app with the language-learning app Babbel.
Great for dealing with the real numbers: Easy Home Finance
Easy Home Finance is equally versatile. It can be used in any country, thanks to the currency not being automatically specified once you download the app. But if you find dealing with pure numbers without any currency sign confusing, you can also choose to work in a particular currency from within the settings options.
A manual-entry budgeting app, Easy Home Finance offers the following features:
A clear interface which offers you an overview of all of your expenses
The ability to export all of your data into Excel
Categorized breakdown of your expenditures
Great for staying on top of your recurring expenditures: SayMoney
SayMoney is a budgeting app that focuses on simplicity, offering you the most intuitive means of overseeing your finances. The app evaluates, filters, sorts and groups your expenses to give you a better idea of where your money is going each month.
Another benefit of SayMoney is how it tracks and manages all of your recurring expenditures. In doing so, it encourages you to reconsider whether you want to continue paying for each service. Such recurring expenditures could include:
€10.99 on a Netflix subscription
€25.00 for your smartphone
€18.99 for a quarterly magazine subscription
€45.00 for your gym membership
What are the best desktop apps for budgeting?
Sometimes, it’s easier to organize your life from a bigger screen. Your finances are no exception. Getting started with budgeting can be overwhelming, so being able to get a full overview of your finances on your MacBook or PC can be a great way to start.
Here are some of the best budgeting apps for desktop, which can also be accessed on your smartphone:
Great for giving every penny a job: You Need a Budget
Based on the zero-based budgeting system, the goal of this rigorous and results-based budgeting app is to “give every dollar a job.” You Need a Budget (YNAB for short) champions the idea that at the end of each month, you should have a bank balance of zero, because you’ve assigned every penny a task.
With a price of around €11 a month, YNAB isn’t free or even cheap. But it does offer a wide range of features, including access to resources including budget advice and workshops. The app also claims that on average, a new budgeter saves €535 by their second month of saving, and more than €5360 in the first year. That could pay for a fantastic holiday, or perhaps several mini-vacations throughout the year.
Great for advanced budgeting: Moneydance
For more sophisticated financial software, Moneydance is a budgeting app and a piece of personal finance software that can be used on Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems, as well as on iPhone and Android. At €54.99 euros, Moneydance is a popular desktop money-management tool that allows you to fine-tune your budget to the very last penny.
After downloading Moneydance, new users are treated to a demo edition, which explains all of the features and tools before you make your purchase. With its clear interface and variety of colourful graphs, Moneydance is a great option for those who want to create a thoroughly detailed budget. It’s best for those who welcome exposure to mountains of fascinating financial data.
How do budgeting apps work?
Budgeting apps simplify the way we approach our finances. They provide us with total transparency over our income and expenditures, and nudge us to keep on track with our savings goals.
Each budgeting app specializes in a particular area which sets it apart from the competition. Consequently, some options may focus on one or several of the following:
Creating a holistic money management system
Setting up alarm notifications to alert us when we are overspending
Creating a plan to help us pay off any outstanding debts
Meticulously tracking all of our bills
Providing a succinct dashboard to give us a solid, real-time overview of our finances
Focusing on the amount of spare money we have each month
Giving every penny a “job” and aiming to have no money in our account at the end of the month
How to handle physical cash in budgeting apps
If you are paid cash-in-hand, you may be wondering just how to handle physical cash in budgeting apps. One solution would be to opt for budgeting apps like Money Manager Expense & Budget, Daily Budget Original or Wallet, in which you enter all of your income and spendings manually.
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N26 makes managing your money a breeze.
Track your daily spending directly in the N26 app with N26 Statistics, which automatically breaks down your spending into categories. With Statistics, you can even track your spending against your usual three-month average in real time, and get a complete overview of your monthly recurring payments.
With an N26 premium account, you can also use N26 Spaces to create up to 10 sub-accounts that sit alongside your main account. And our in-app Rules feature allows you to automatically move money between your main account and your Spaces sub-accounts—as well as between individual sub-accounts themselves.
Don’t have an N26 account? No worries! It takes a matter of minutes to sign up for one of our free or premium accounts. It’s available on both the app store and on your desktop. Best of all, once you’ve signed up, you’ll have made the first step to achieving your budgeting goals!
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Money Manager: Budget & Expense app store & website
Daily Budget Original app store & website
Wally app store & website
Wallet app store & website
1Money app store & website
Easy Home Finance app store & website
Say Money app store & website
You Need a Budget app store & website
Moneydance app store & website