Best Budget and Money Management Apps

The apps you need to save money and manage your bills

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There are dozens and dozens of budgeting and money managements apps (and services!) out there, but after going through about 20 of the top-rated options, we've decided on these seven.

Each has its own strengths and we've made sure to highlight them to help you pick the one that is right for you.

01
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Mint

This app, from the makers of the e-filing site/software TurboTax, helps you get a clear picture of all your finances in one place. Once you sign up, you connect all your bank accounts, investment accounts and credit card accounts, and Mint provides an overview of activity and balances across all of them, including graphs that break down your spending into categories. Your info is synced across the desk and mobile app, so you can get the most up-to-date view of your account balances no matter which platform you're on.

Beyond displaying all your relevant financial info in one place, the Mint app helps you manage your money by providing budgets based on your spending and by providing your credit score for free. You also get reminders for upcoming bill due dates, and can even pay your bills directly from the app on your phone and on the desktop.

Of course, you may be reluctant to hand over all of your financial account information to the Mint app, but the service does use security measures like multi-factor authentication to keep your information safe. Additionally, Mint uses multi-layered hardware and software encryption to keep all your login info for various financial accounts safe.

Best for:

  • Budgeting
  • Staying on top of bills
  • Getting a clear picture of your overall financial health
  • Overall money management

Cost: Free

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You Need a Budget

It may seem paradoxical to pay money to a service to help you get out of debt, but You Need a Budget (frequently shortened to YNAB) has plenty of fans who rave about its efficacy.

Once you sign up and connect all your financial accounts, YNAB helps you stay on track by helping you set goals and keeping you posted on how progress toward or away from those goals will affect your overall debt level. Like other apps in this article, You Need a Budget also breaks down your spending into charts and graphs, letting you see how much you spend on groceries, home, "just for fun" and more.

YNAB's budgeting philosophy is that you need to give every dollar you have a job, and put it to work for you by prioritizing where your money should go. The You Need a Budget desktop site includes plenty of resources to help you learn more about how to reduce your debt, such as weekly videos, online classes, podcasts and more.

Cost: $4.17 per month, billed annually at $50. Note that the service does include a money-back guarantee if you don't feel like it's working for you, and you get a free 34-day trial as a new user.

Best for:

  • Budgeting
  • Getting out of debt

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Clarity Money

This is another solid app for overall money management, with the usual feature of tracking your spending across accounts. It offers a few unique tools as well, though, such as the ability to cancel unwanted online subscriptions (and to just see what subscriptions you have in the first place) with the goal of saving you money. It also identifies any bills you have that might be negotiable, and can automatically renegotiate for a lower rate on your behalf. Notably, you can also transfer money between your checking and savings accounts directly through the app.

If you have debt, Clarity Money will also provide suggestions on how to consolidate it with credit cards, and regardless of whether you have debt the service will also suggest the best credit cards for you based on your financial situation and spending patterns.

Another unique feature: The app lets you set up a savings account that will automatically withdraw funds from a personal account. Overall, Clarity Money does seem to live up to the way it bills itself — as a consumer advocate — by offering plenty of unique, helpful tools. Note that as of publish time, the app was not yet available for Android, but the company said it was coming to the platform in the future.

Cost: Free

Best for: 

  • Overall money management
  • Saving money
  • Cutting out wasteful spending

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04
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Acorns

This app has the tagline "invest spare change," and it helps you by doing just that. To get started, you connect all the cards and accounts you use to make purchases with the app, then you just spend as you normally would. The Acorns app will automatically round up your purchases to the nearest dollar, but rather than giving the merchant you did business with some extra money, it will invest that change in a portfolio of more than 7,000 stocks and bonds. The idea is that over time, the small amounts of money you invest from rounding up amount to something substantial.

In addition to investing spare change by rounding up your transactions to the nearest dollar, you can set up recurring investments of a specific dollar amount with Acorns. This can be on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. You can withdraw money from your account at any time without any charge, and the app automatically re-invests your dividends for you.

The Acorns app protects your data with 256-bit encryption, and you're protected for up to $500,000 against fraud, so you can feel relatively secure while using this unique savings/investing app.

Cost: $1 per month (accounts of $5,000 or more pay 0.25% per year, while college students with a valid .edu email address get the Acorns app for free)

Best for: 

  • Saving
  • Getting into investing
  • Making the most of all your transactions

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05
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Goodbudget

If you're familiar with the envelope budgeting method — which basically entails separating the money for different categories of your budget into separate envelopes — the strategy used by the Goodbudget app will make sense to you. Basically, you specify certain amounts of money to go toward various expense categories, and the Goodbudget app tracks your progress and how much you stick to this predetermined amounts.

The app lets you check how much you have left to spend within any given "envelope," and it can also track your bank balances in addition to your balances across expense categories. Another helpful feature is the selection of reports the Goodbudget app can generate, including income vs. spending spending by envelope and more. You can even download transactions as CSV (spreadsheet) files from the web. Naturally, all the app's info is synced between your phone and the desktop, so you'll see the most up-to-date info across platforms.

You can share budgets with others such as family members, which is especially useful if you're most concerned about staying on top of household expenses.

Cost: Free, though a Goodbudget Plus premium version is available for $6 a month or $50 a year. This paid version of the app includes unlimited envelopes (the free app limits you to 10), unlimited transaction history, an unlimited number of devices and access to email support rather than just community support.

Best for: 

  • Creating and sticking to a budget

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06
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Qapital

If you want help saving for a particular goal, Qapital might be the app for you — or at least one of the apps for you. You start by specifying a goal, such as a vacation or paying off student loans, and the app helps you set up automatic rules that can assist you in reaching that goal. 

For example, if you want to save for a vacation to Hawaii, decide how much you'll need to set aside for the trip, then use the Qapital app to set up automatic actions such as rounding up to the nearest dollar (a la the Acorns app) and putting the difference in savings and saving a certain amount every time you order takeout. You can customize the process by creating your own rules based on your personal situation, as well — you could set aside $25 for the new bag you want every time you go to the gym, for example.

Once you get started with Qapital, you also get a checking account and a debit card that tie into the service's savings program. So Qapital can essentially function as your bank, with the ability to transfer money between accounts, pay checks and more, and with no monthly fees.

Cost: Free

Best for:

  • Saving with a specific goal in mind
  • Automating your saving process

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07
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Budgt

The Budgt app takes a dynamic approach to helping you plan out how much you can safely spend on various things, and it manages to keep things pretty simple as well. You just enter in your various daily and monthly expenses along with your income, and Budgt will calculate how much you can spend each day.

Because you likely will go above that specified amount on some days, Budgt also delivers updated budgets based on your spending throughout the month, with the goal of keeping you in check so you don't end up losing money when you were planning on saving money during the month.

You get some neat insights when you use the app over time, such as info on the days when you're most likely to spend the most money, and projections about how much money will be left at the end of the month. You can export your monthly data as a CSV file. 

This is one of the more specific apps featured in this article, as it doesn't offer as wide a range of features as apps such as Mint. As such, Budgt's probably best used in conjunction with a broader money-management app so you can accomplish various financial goals.

Best for:

  • Those with smaller incomes
  • Budgeting in general but specifically budgeting on a day-to-day basis

Cost: $1.99

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