March 7, 2014

Study: Best Budgeting Apps

Reining in your spending is amazingly tough to do on your own. No matter the goal - whether you’re trying to pay off debt, save for a fantasy vacation, or finally create an emergency fund - it helps to have some assistance to keep you on the right track. As it is, just over half of Americans are unable to support their current lifestyle for even a month if they lost their job, according to a survey.

Fortunately, as with most everything these days, there is an app for that. From bare-bones spending trackers to apps with so much functionality they could replace your financial planner, we rounded up the best budgeting tools you can hold in your hand. The easiest ones will pull data right from your financial accounts, but if the idea of sharing your personal information gives you the willies, other options exist. Here’s a rundown of the three best budgeting apps, depending on your priorities.

Roundup Methodology

We ranked each app based on its price, range of features, and the number of devices on which it can be used. Get ready to put your excuses aside because any one of these budgeting apps will help you finally stick to a plan.

1. Best Simple Budgeting App: Spendee

  • Affordability: 2/5
  • Functionality: 3/5
  • Availability: 4/5
  • CreditDonkey Score: 3/5

At $1.99, Spendee isn’t going to break the bank, but you can get other apps even cheaper so we’ve docked it for price. Still, we do like this tool for its simplicity and the fact it gives users complete power over entering their income and spending information - there’s no pressure to tie your bank accounts to this app. Available for both iOS and Android, Spendee also allows users to snap photos of receipts for storage, which is better than keeping them in your wallet until tax time arrives. By all accounts, the usability is top notch. Privacy phobes will enjoy the fact that Spendee doesn’t require any personal information to get started.

Why we like it: Spendee is a simple solution for users who just want to track spending and are not concerned with more advanced functionality.

2. Best Goal-Oriented Budgeting App: BUDGT

  • Affordability: 4/5
  • Functionality: 5/5
  • Availability: 2/5
  • CreditDonkey Score: 3.7/5

Like Spendee, BUDGT doesn’t call on you to give up your personal account data; it depends on you to manually enter information like income and spending. But it is only available for iOS users. Rather than just tracking your spending, BUDGT will create a daily budget for you - all for 99 cents. This app will tell you how much you can afford to spend on a given day based on how much you have already spent that month. Users can also set savings goals, which the app will help you reach by setting a daily budget. This app can only go so far, however: It’s still up to you to take BUDGT’s advice if you want to improve your spending habits.

Why we like it: BUDGT is a middle-of-the-road solution for users who are wary of sharing their banking information with an app but still need help reaching their savings goals.

Best Full-Service Budgeting App: Mint

  • Affordability: 5/5
  • Functionality: 5/5
  • Availability: 5/5
  • CreditDonkey Score: 5/5

Despite being the only free app on our list, Mint boasts the greatest availability and functionality. Users can download the app for iOS, Android, Windows, and Amazon, as well as use it on the web. Users can securely and easily connect their accounts to the app, so they don’t have to enter and update it themselves. Mint not only allows you to set goals, it will also send bill reminders and mobile alerts so that you can actually stick to those goals.

Why we like it: Mint hits all the marks, coming in as an inexpensive option with full functionality. Even if you don’t think you need this much help managing your finances, it may be worth a try, especially considering the price.

Which App Is Right for You?

In this particular instance, it seems the old adage “You get what you pay for” does not hold up. With a 4.5 star rating in the App Store, Mint seems to be a favorite among budget-conscious users, and it’s our top choice as well. However, if giving your banking information to a mobile app raises an alarm for you, there are other choices.

More from CreditDonkey:

10 Smart Ways to Save $1,000 a Month

10 Smart Ways to Invest $1,000

10 Smart Ways to Get Out of Debt

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