It can happen to anyone. The month is dragging on, you’re buying groceries, paying bills, and getting the kids everything they need for school. Money is tight, but you’re getting by. Then, your spouse calls. The car isn’t starting. Suddenly, you’re panicking. It’s been a tight month already, can you afford an expensive car repair?
For many people, the answer is “no.” Some 40 percent of Americans claim they can’t afford a $400 emergency bill. Finances across the rest of the world are similarly bleak. Quite frankly, costs and spending tend to add up quicker than most people realize.
For many, wages aren’t the (only) problem. They earn enough that they should be able to save up for emergencies, not to mention retirement, vacations, college, and more. Yet given how busy life gets, it’s easy to spend the money you earn. A cup of coffee at an expensive coffee chain, a new TV that perhaps you didn’t need, the dollars can vanish quickly if you’re not careful.
If you’re having trouble saving money, you’re not alone. In a survey by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. 77 percent of Americans admitted that spending money was “easy.” Nearly 60 percent of people reported that they were not tracking their spending, while one in three acknowledged that they spent more than they save. That’s never a path to financial prosperity.
The above numbers also explain why more families are turning to personal home budgeting software, which will help you track spending and savings. You’ll be able to see if you’re on track for meeting your financial goals, where you’re spending a lot of money, and more. With some apps, you can even track investments!
So let’s take a look at the best home budgeting software programs. By selecting the right app, you’ll be able to take charge of your finances and lay the foundation for a more financially stable future.
Table of Contents
Best Free Budget Apps
On a really tight budget and don’t want to spend that budget on budgeting software? A lot of people looking to budget their spending are doing so because they’re tight on cash. Unfortunately, a lot of budgeting software costs money, and the fees can be pretty hefty. Not Mint, however. This app is 100 percent free.
Mint makes it easy to track spending and allows you to quickly get a handle on all of your accounts. In fact, most American financial institutions, such as your bank, can be connected directly to your Mint account. You can even track your credit score. Unlike some of the apps on this list, Mint also allows you to track and manage your investments. Available on both Android and iOS.
- 100 percent free
- User-friendly mobile app
- Easy to link with many American financial institutions
- You’ll have to deal with a lot of ads
- Can be time-consuming to set up
- A lot of your personal data is collected
First, the Pocketbook App caters to the Australian market, so if you’re in the USA or Europe, it might not be of much use to you. That said, for Aussies, the Pocketbook app is a great option for taking charge of your budget.
The Pocketbook App will organize your spending by category. This allows you to quickly get a grasp on your spending and where the money is flowing. Once you can identify areas where you’re spending more than you should (say, takeout food), you can start developing strategies to save money. Your spending can also be organized by day as well.
The Pocketbook App will also send you notifications. So if you’re nearing the max for your budget, you’ll get a helpful reminder. This should help people stay on track. Currently, over 700,000 Aussies have downloaded the Pocketbook App on Android and iOS, making it one of the most popular apps in Australia.
- A great option for Aussies
- Easy to use, well-designed interface
- Free app
- Not helpful for international users
- Ads can be annoying
BudgetPulse is a free app that allows you to set financial goals and manage your budget. As a free app, there are some limitations. For example, you can’t link your bank accounts directly to BudgetPulse and must instead enter transactions and balances manually. Fortunately, adding accounts and plugging in data is relatively straightforward and easy. You can also download data and then manually upload it.
BudgetPulse does make it easy to track your income and spending. Simple, easy-to-understand graphs are provided. You can set financial goals that others can contribute to, or you can keep your goals private.
Currently, BudgetPulse is available only as a web application. No apps are available for either Android or iOS. Compared to other budgeting software, BudgetPulse doesn’t offer as many features. However, it is easy to use, and the simple setup makes for easy navigation.
- Free to use
- Maintains privacy
- Good for tracking your budget
- No apps for iOS or Android
- Doesn’t connect directly with bank accounts
- Not as feature-rich as other programs
While many of the apps on this list focus on the United States, Money Dashboard caters to the United Kingdom. Many of the banks supported are based in the UK. Money Dashboard bills itself as the United Kingdom’s best financial services app and many users compare it to Mint.
Over a half-million Brits are using Money Dashboard and it’s well-reviewed on both the Google Play and iOS app stores. The app is well-regarded for its ease of use and has won numerous awards. Best of all, it’s free but does make money through advertising.
- Easy to use interface
- Links up with most UK Banks
- For British users, not international markets
- Ads can be intrusive
Best Freemium Apps
Personal Capital App
Dollar for dollar, the Personal Capital app is one of the best apps out there. That’s because the Personal Capital app is free. Despite that non-existent price tag, this app is packed with features and has garnered industry awards.
Personal Capital does offer a variety of financial wealth management services that it charges fees for, however. In order to distinguish between the company’s two branches of business, it’s helpful to think of the app as the Personal Capital free Financial Dashboard, while their paid services can be referred to as Personal Capital Wealth Management.
Unlike some other free apps, the Personal Capital app also offers a variety of tools for investment management. While their paid services will open up more options and provide more investment management services, their free app is still packed with features. Available on both Android and iOS.
Like some of the other apps on this list, the Personal Capital App will provide you with a dashboard that you can use to manage all of your financial accounts, such as credit cards, checking accounts, investment accounts, and more. You can even include retirement accounts offered by your company.
The budgeting services aren’t as extensive, flexible, or detailed as some of the other apps on this list. However, you will be provided with a monthly summary of your spending and can quickly see where your spending is going. You can also use the cash flow analyzer to set financial goals, such as paying down debt.
- Lots of investment features, especially for a free app
- Excellent for wealth management
- Personal Capital is a well-respected company
- Advanced services can get expensive
- The app is clearly set up to upsell
- More focused on investing than budgeting
Best Paid (Premium) Apps
YNAB (You Need a Budget)
The “You Need a Budget” app, often referred to by its initials “YNAB”, is one of the most popular personal finance apps out there, and for good reason. This app is easy to use, yet powerful and flexible.
While YNAB has always been a solid app, it’s evolved over the years and is now packed with features. You can share your budget among multiple users (say, your spouse), and YNAB runs on both Windows and Mac. There is also an app for Android and iOS devices that syncs everything with your desktop.
Yet as feature-packed, as the app is, many of the best features are actually what comes outside of the app. When it comes to saving money, you need accountability. It’s easy to say you’re going to save 10 percent next month or cut down on how much you spend on takeout next week. Actually changing your habits, however, can be hard.
That’s why YNAB offers accountability partners. Your partner will help hold you accountable and will call you out if you overspend. Still struggling? You can hire an expert coach who will teach you how to save money and stay within budget.
Unfortunately, YNAB costs $84 a year or $11.99 per month, making it one of the more expensive apps on this list. That said, with the amount of money you’ll save in the long run, this app should pay for itself.
- Generally easy to use interface
- Great for handling budgets
- Encourages accountability
- The user interface is a bit dated
- Not as good for tracking investments
- Can take a long time to load
There’s an old budgeting trick called “envelope budgeting.” Basically, you take your money and place it in envelopes. Each envelope will contain all your spending money for a specific thing over a period of time. So you might have one envelope for groceries, another for take-out, and yet another for entertainment. Once your cash in a particular envelope runs out, you’re out of spending money until the next payday.
Mvelopes is based on the same premise but instead of physical envelopes, everything is handled electronically. This makes the envelope budgeting much easier. Once one of your Mvelopes is depleted, it’ll turn red, letting you know that you should stop spending on a certain activity.
Mvelopes is a bit limited and isn’t particularly useful for investment tracking and other financial matters, however. It is limited mostly to budgeting. Still, many users report that the app works well and that Mvelopes is good for teaching self-discipline.
The basic app starts at $6 per month while the Plus package costs $19 and Complete costs $59 per month. The Plus package grants access to a vast knowledge center and various other perks. There is a desktop version as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS.
- Envelope budgeting teaches discipline
- Wide variety of financial reports available
- Easy to import and categorize bank transactions
- The user interface can be a bit difficult to learn
- Not many features for investment tracking
- No support for brokerage accounts
Quicken is a powerful budgeting platform. It is excellent for managing home finances and features a personal budget planner. Quicken has been around since 1983, making it one of the oldest personal finance applications.
Unsurprisingly, Quicken is also one of the most powerful and feature-rich budget applications. Besides planning spending budgets, you can also use Quicken to track investments, plan for retirement, prepare documentation for taxes, and pay bills.
Quicken is a desktop app. However, “companion” apps are available on Android and iOS. The Android app has suffered from some poor reviews, while the iOS app is more highly regarded. Either way, to take advantage of many of Quicken’s best features, you’ll have to use the desktop app.
Quicken costs between $34.99 and $89.99 per year.
- One of the most feature-rich budget platforms available
- Good for budget and investments
- Convenient bill tracking & reminders
- So many features, the UI can be overwhelming
- Can be difficult to link up with bank accounts
- Not the cheapest option
CountAbout is a highly regarded web-based budgeting program. Many users like CountAbout for its simplicity. Compared to some of the programs on this list, CountAbout is generally easy to use, even if you’re not particularly tech-savvy.
Further, as a web-app, you don’t have to worry about downloading and installing this program and can simply access it with any device with an Internet connection. Android and iOS are available but currently don’t offer every feature available on CountAbout.
Despite the emphasis on ease-of-use, CountAbout is a flexible software program and is highly customizable. You’ll be able to customize essentially every report, field, and function. If you select the Premium plan, you can automatically sync all of your accounts and transactions.
It starts at just $9.99 per year with the Premium membership costing $39.99 per year.
- Import Quicken or Mint transactions
- No ads
- Reports are robust
- The user interface has a relatively steep learning curve
- Can’t directly pay bills
- Can’t move money around in-app
Moneydance has emerged as one of the most popular budgeting software options around owing to the tremendous amount of support the dev team puts into the product. Budging software can be rather buggy, to be quite frank. A lot of that is because the apps are integrated with outside third parties. Should those parties change or update their system, it can mess up the integrations.
Many of the software programs on this list work great most of the time. Then, a bank or another financial institution changes something on their end and suddenly things aren’t syncing the way you expect them to. This can happen with Moneydance, but the dev team is very quick to update their software.
Moneydance is also one of the most powerful and feature-rich budgeting tools. You can sync it directly with your bank, track investments, and compile a number of powerful, detailed reports. You can also set up payment reminders, track spending, and more.
- Bill payment and reminders
- Generally easy to use
- Offers investment monitoring tools
- The dashboard can be a bit confusing and feels cluttered
- Importing data can be a pain
- The free trial is limited to 100 transactions
Acorns is more of an investment app than a budget app. However, if you use Acorns debit cards, IRAs, and other features, it will also help you set and stick to a budget. Further, Acorns offers a ton of resources for those looking to set and stick to budgets.
What really makes Acorns unique is how it helps you save for the future and invest. Acorns rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and then invests your “spare change.” Many people are intimidated by investing and rightly so. The best performing investors, like Warren Buffet, are renowned for their financial acumen.
Acorn makes investing easy. You simply chose one of five exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These funds spread investments across a large number of companies, ensuring that you are invested in a diversified, well-rounded portfolio.
- Encourages investment mentality
- Makes investing easy for everyone
- More for investing than budgeting
- Fees can add up quickly
- Less control over your investments