Take charge of your finances with these expense-tracking apps.
With smartphones playing a pivotal role in our daily lives, it only makes sense that they would eventually become an integral part of money management. “Merging the two together seems to be a natural fit,” says Mark Ranta, global head of digital banking for ACI Worldwide, which provides banking and payment solutions for financial institutions worldwide. Consumers who want to budget and track their spending can choose from many different apps. The best tools will offer spending alerts, the ability to set a budget and provide information to help you make smart financial decisions, Ranta says. Here’s a look at 10 budgeting apps that make it simple to save and manage your finances with ease.
1. Personal Capital
For investors, Personal Capital offers a robust and easy-to-use app. It can be linked to a variety of financial accounts for budgeting, tracking personal wealth and monitoring portfolio performance. Plus, the company provides users with access to financial advisors and will offer investment advice even on accounts that are not under its management. Accounts can also be managed online. While its core services are free, there is a fee for personalized investment advice. The fee starts at 0.89 percent for portfolios valued up to $1 million and then drops for those with investments greater than that amount. The Personal Capital app is free and is compatible with Apple and Android devices.
A pioneering budget app, Mint remains a popular choice. “It’s a very inclusive app that helps you manage your budget and also take control of your finances,” says money-saving expert and U.S. News contributor Andrea Woroch. The app allows users to link and manage accounts from multiple institutions. Plus, Mint categorizes spending and allows you to create a recommended budget that can be adjusted by users. The app also sends alerts when purchases post to an account and provides customized money-management tips. Mint is available for free and is compatible with Apple and Android devices. Accounts can also be managed via the Mint.com website.
“Wally is another great app to track your spending and savings goals,” says Matt Dworetsky, a retirement planning specialist with advisory firm Dworetsky Financial in Wall Township, New Jersey. It’s a good choice for those who don’t want to give a third-party app access to their bank accounts. Rather than link to financial institutions and import data, Wally enables users to enter transactions manually or upload photos of receipts. That way, money can then be budgeted and your savings goals can be tracked easily. Wally is compatible with Apple and Android devices and is free to download from Apple’s App Store or Google Play.
4. Clarity Money
Owned by the online bank Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Clarity Money is another app that makes it easy to track spending. You can link your bank accounts, view historical data and even get a countdown to your next paycheck. However, what makes this service unique is that it works to identify subscription services and helps cancel them. “We’ve all forgotten about random subscription fees, but with Clarity Money, you’ll be in control of where your money goes,” Dworetsky says. The app is free and compatible with Apple and Android devices. You can also access Clarity Money’s services online.
Previously known as You Need a Budget, YNAB is both an app and a software program that can be used across multiple platforms. Users can link bank accounts, create a budget and continuously sync data, offering an ideal solution for couples who want to share financial transactions in real time. YNAB is compatible with Apple and Android devices; it is free for the first 34 days and requires $6.99 monthly fee thereafter or an annual fee of $83.99. Forums, podcasts and videos are also provided to help people navigate the software, create a budget and stick to it.
PocketGuard allows users to link bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments to provide a complete financial picture. It then categorizes spending and calculates how much is left after the bills are paid, providing a simple way to create a budget automatically. The basic version of PocketGuard is free to use, while PocketGuard Plus costs $3.99 per month or $34.99 per year. The paid version includes tools for tracking cash payments and managing ATM withdrawals. PocketGuard is compatible with Apple and Android devices. Some features of the app can also be accessed online.
With Albert, you can either manage money on your own or pay for advice from financial experts. The free version of the app lets you link accounts, set savings goals and review spending. Meanwhile, with Albert Genius, the paid service, a team of experts will create an automatic budget and dispense financial advice. You’ll also get spending alerts if the system notices you might be overpaying for certain goods and services. Albert is only compatible with Apple devices and is free to download. Users will be asked to select a monthly payment for the service and can choose to stick with the free version. To access Albert Genius services, a minimum payment of $4 per month is required.
Quicken has long been one of the most recognizable names in budgeting software, and now the company has an app to complement its more traditional products. The Quicken mobile companion app lets users view account balances, add transactions and sync data across desktop and mobile versions of Quicken. The mobile app is compatible with Apple and Android devices and works in tandem with Quicken software that is available for an annual fee. The starter version of Quicken costs $34.99 a year and allows users to create a budget and manage bills.
Zelle enables you to easily track person-to-person payments. “Whether I owe someone money or they owe me, I use Zelle,” Woroch says. The app allows users to transfer money from one U.S. bank account to another. While some third-party services such as PayPal and Venmo will hold a balance in the app until money is transferred, Woroch says a benefit of Zelle is that money always goes directly to your bank account. The Zelle service is embedded in the mobile banking apps of financial institutions such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo. If you don’t have access to Zelle directly through your bank or credit union, the app can be downloaded for free from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
10. Santa’s Bag
For a holiday spending budgeting app, look no further than Santa’s Bag. It allows people to plan gift ideas, set a budget and track spending. The app can also create reports and track gifts split between multiple recipients. “Santa’s Bag makes navigating the giving season easy by helping to track your overall budget as well as how much you’re spending on specific people,” Dworetsky says. “It’s proven that creating a budget will help us be more accountable with our savings goals and help us spend smarter.” Santa’s Bag is only compatible with Apple devices and is free to download from the App Store.
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