They make saving simple, but how do budgeting apps work, and which are the best ones for iPhone and Android? What’s more, how should we know what to look for in a good budgeting app?
As our finances may be affected from spending more time indoors, budgeting for the coming months might ease some of the uncertainty. Read on to discover the best budgeting apps of 2020, designed to transform your finances and help you stay in control of your financial goals:
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 them 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
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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 deciding what you want them to help you achieve, 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 some of the best ones that are available for free.
Money Manager Expense & Budget—perfect for effortless budget tracking
Money Manager Expense & Budget is an incredibly popular budgeting app for both iPhone and Android. After manually entering all of your income and expenditures, the app generates a variety of different daily, weekly and monthly reports, so that you can monitor your spending effortlessly.
You can track your expenses against your projected budget by creating graphs, which helps 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 to look purely at your financial figures.
Daily Budget Original—know how much you can spend each day
One of the most appealing features of Daily Budgeting Original is how it aims to make budgeting fun, as well as helping you get a solid understanding of your finances. A manual-entry budgeting app, it helps you calculate and categorize your expenses, in addition to setting up your budgeting goals.
The app’s ease of use is one of its most appealing features, as well as 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.
Wally—the minimalist budgeting app
Wally focuses on providing a budgeting feature, without any of the additional frills that come with many other budgeting apps. Launched in 2013 and boasting 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.
Wallet—break your budget down into pie charts
Founded in 2011 by Budgetbakers, this is a smart, clearly designed budgeting app that allows you to get an informed overview of your expenses. Unlike Wally, the free version of Wallet doesn’t pull data directly from your bank accounts—you add all of your income and outgoings manually.
However, 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’s accounts for you. A further word of warning—not all of Wallet’s features are 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
1Money—a budgeting app for those on-the-go
1Money is like the free version of Wallet, a manual-entry budgeting app where 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 is how you can 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 Babbel—an interactive, language-learning app which makes language-learning fun.
Easy Home Finance—deal with the real numbers
Easy Home Finance is equally versatile, as 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. However, the language settings simply match the language settings of your phone.
A manual-entry budgeting app, Easy Home Finance also 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
SayMoney—keeping you on top of your recurring expenditures
SayMoney is a budgeting app that focuses on simplicity, offering you the most intuitive means of overseeing your finances. The app evaluates all of your expenses, filters, sorts,and groups them 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 MacBook apps for budgeting—and for Windows too?
Sometimes, it’s easier to organize your life from a bigger screen, and 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 using on your desktop, which can also be accessed on your smartphone:
You Need a Budget—assign every penny a job
Based on the zero-based budgeting system, the goal of this rigorous and results-based budgeting app is to encourage users’ to “give every dollar a job.” YNAB 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 might not be free, but it does offer a wide range of features, including access to a vast variety of 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 saves more than €5360 in the first year. That could pay for a fantastic holiday, or perhaps many mini-breaks if you use a discount holiday accommodation service, such as Hotels.com.
Moneydance—for the more advanced budgeter
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 which allows you to fine-tune your budget, to the penny.
After downloading Moneydance, new users are treated to a demo edition, which explains all of the features and tools that are available and how to use them, before you make your purchase. With its clear interface which expertly tracks your cashflow, in addition to its variety of colourful graphs, Moneydance is a great option for those wanting to create a thoroughly detailed budget, and who welcome exposure to mountains of fascinating financial data.
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.
A digital bank which offers all the features of budgeting apps, N26 makes managing your money a breeze. Track your daily spending in Statistics, which categorizes all of your expenditures, receive notifications every time money leaves and enters your account, and use the Spaces sub-accounts to set your budgeting goals.
With a You or Metal account, you can even enjoy up to ten additional Spaces, allowing you to budget for a vast variety of different savings goals. What’s more, you also get access to the Shared Spaces feature, which enables up to ten participants to share the Space, and to add to the savings fund collectively.
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!
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