August 3, 2020

Online Budgeting Tools

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Looking for the best (and free) online budgeting tool? See how apps like YNAB, Mint, PocketGuard and more compare.

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Are you in debt, have trouble saving, or struggle with living paycheck to paycheck?

Having a solid budget is the first step to a healthy financial life. It can help you keep spending in check, save more, and reach your goals faster.

Luckily, you don't have to mess around with spreadsheets. There are many budgeting tools and apps to help you create a budget - and stick to it. Many are even free.

If you're ready to take control of your financial future, check out these budgeting apps.

Here are the 10 best online budget tools to help you manage your money:

  1. Mint: Best Free Budgeting App
  2. YNAB: Best for Planning Monthly Budget
  3. Personal Capital: Best for Long Term Wealth Tracking
  4. Buxfer: Best for Forecasting Budgets
  5. Clarity Money: Create Better Money Habits
  6. EveryDollar: Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps
  7. PocketGuard: Know Your Leftover Pocket Money
  8. Mvelopes: Envelopes Based Budgeting
  9. MoneyStrands: Calendar Based Budgeting
  10. Budget Simple: Eliminate Debt and Save Smarter

Why Use Budget Tools?

Budgeting tools help you stay on top of your finances and save money. Some features could include:

  • Track spending on your debit and credit cards
  • See how and where you are spending your money
  • Create savings goals and track progress
  • Alerts for low balance on bank accounts
  • Track investments

Budgeting tools can help you crush your money goals. Plus, many tools even help monitor your credit score as well.

Best Online Budgeting Tools and Apps

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Take a look at some of the best budgeting apps available for nailing down your personal finance situation.

Mint: Best Free Budgeting App

Mint is one of the most popular online budgeting tools. It was the first app to automatically sync your financial accounts all in one place for a well-rounded picture of your finances.

You start by linking all your bank accounts and credit cards to the app. Mint then tracks all your transactions and automatically categorizes them.

You can make your own budget and assign your monthly budget to each category. Mint will track your spending in real time. You can see how much you've spent in each category.

One common complaint is that some transactions may be put into wrong categories. You can change it if it's incorrect. Mint is smart and will learn how you place transactions into categories for the future.

Other features include:

  • Set goals and track your savings progress
  • Debt payoff planner
  • Bill reminders
  • Investment tracking
  • Free credit score and monitoring from TransUnion
  • Custom alerts on your accounts

Overall, Mint is an excellent budgeting app for day to day money management.

YNAB: Best for Planning a Monthly Budget

You Need a Budget (YNAB) focuses on the "forward looking" approach to budgeting. Unlike Mint, it doesn't just give you a report card of your expenses. It forces you to plan for your entire month's of expenses ahead of time.

The ultimate goal is to teach you to live on last month's income, as opposed to budgeting based on future income. So eventually, you live on money you already have.

Features:

  • Link accounts or manually enter transactions
  • Break down large one-time expenses and create goals to fund them throughout the year
  • Adjusts your budget if you accidentally overspend
  • 100+ free, live online workshops every week

The price is $6.99 per month (free for the first 34 days). It's best for more committed budgeters looking to stop living from paycheck-to-paycheck.

Personal Capital: Best for Long Term Wealth Tracking

Personal Capital offers some of the best free money management tools. You link all your accounts to see your overall net worth, cash flow, investment portfolios, and more.

Though Personal Capital does offer budgeting, it's more basic. You can set an overall budget for the month and it'll track how much you've spent so far. Unlike Mint, you can't assign a budget to each spending category.

Personal Capital is better for long term financial planning. Their main focus is on investment tracking and retirement planning. It'll analyze your investment strategy and give personalized advice on how you can adjust to better reach your goals.

Other features include:

  • Tells you how much uninvested cash you have sitting around
  • Analyzes hidden fees within your investments
  • Advanced retirement calculator
  • Education planner

Personal Capital also offers wealth management services starting at 0.89% of assets under management. The service combines robo-investing with professional human management. The minimum investment is $100k.

Buxfer: Best for Forecasting Budgets

Buxfer is a free money management app aimed at young Millennials. It also automatically sync your accounts. The main focus is helping you plan for the future.

You can set weekly, monthly and yearly budget limits on spending categories. This helps you not only plan month-to-month, but to plan ahead as well.

One really cool feature is that it forecasts your future net worth and cash flow, based on your earnings, budgets, and past spending patterns. This is useful to help you plan near future expenses.

Other features:

  • Get alerts for future situations ahead of time
  • Bill reminders
  • Investment tracking
  • Retirement and education planning
  • Track shared expenses with other people
  • Track accounts in other currencies

Clarity Money: Create Better Money Habits

Clarity Money is a completely free budget manager from Marcus by Goldman Sachs.

Clarity Money uses artificial intelligence to learn about the way you spend money. It helps you understand your spending habits so you can make smarter financial decisions.

You can link accounts from hundreds of financial institutions to track your spending. You organize your expenses into categories and create a weekly budget for each category.

It offers other features, including:

  • Organize your monthly bills
  • Identify subscriptions you may have forgotten about
  • Credit score monitoring

EveryDollar: Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps

EveryDollar is the budgeting app created by celebrity money expert Dave Ramsey. It follows the guidelines of his signature "7 Baby Steps" to financial success.

This budgeting app is based on the zero-sum budgeting system. This method forces you to assign every dollar a "job," whether that's for expenses, savings, or debt payoff.

It also helps you save for your goals. You can break down large one-time expenses and create goals to fund them throughout the year.

EveryDollar is free, but the free version is more limited. You have to enter transactions manually. There is also a paid version for $129.99/year that offers more features, including:

  • Automatic account syncing
  • Debt Snowball Tool helps you tackle your debt
  • Complimentary access to Financial Peace University, a 9-lesson class on how to pay off debt, save, and build wealth

The premium plan, EveryDollar Plus, offers a 14 day free trial.

PocketGuard: Know Your Leftover Pocket Money

PocketGuard helps you manage your budget better by telling you how much you actually have to spend. Link up all your accounts and it calculates how much disposable money you have left after your budgets, bills, and savings goals.

This way, you know how much you have left "in your pocket" and can avoid overspending.

Another cool feature is that it helps you save more by negotiating better rates on your cable, cell phone, and other bills

The basic version is free. PocketGuard Plus costs $3.99 a month and allows you to create your own categories, set up multiple goals, and manually add cash spending/earnings.

Mvelopes: Envelopes Based Budgeting

Mvelopes is a budgeting app that uses the envelope style of budgeting. You create spending categories and set aside cash in "envelopes". Once you have used all the money in that envelope for the month, your money for that category is spent.

If you tend to primarily use cash, this envelope style of budgeting can be effective to monitor your money.

The basic plan costs $6 per month. It offers envelope budgeting and auto account sync. The more advanced plans offer other features such as debt payoff plan, access to the Learning Center, and even a personal finance trainer.

All plans have a free 60-day trial with a money-back guarantee.

MoneyStrands: Calendar Based Budgeting

MoneyStrands is a free easy-to-use budgeting app that lets you take a broader look at your finances. The app has several facets:

  • A calendar to see upcoming income and expenses
  • Analysis of your spending categories
  • Savings Goals to keep track of progress
  • A community to compare budgets and habits

The calendar is great for viewing your income and spending over the course of a year. This helps you plan ahead for future expenses.

MoneyStrands even predicts your budget and forecasts any potential low spots of cash in the future. It can measure your cash flow for the future and predict how much money you can spend both now and in the coming months.

BudgetSimple: Eliminate Debt

BudgetSimple is a free more basic budgeting app. Its main goal is to help you get you out of debt and build savings.

You link up your bank accounts and the app will analyze your finances. It'll help you create a budget plan that makes sense for you, so you can actually stick to it. It'll also give suggestions on where you can cut down spending or save more.

You can track your expenses, get bill reminders, and see your spending with charts and graphs.

Other Budgeting Apps

Here are some other budgeting apps to check out:

GoodBudget
GoodBudget allows for multiple users, so it's good if you share a budget with a partner. The free basic version only allows one account. The premium version is $7 per month and allows for unlimited synced accounts.

MoneyDance
MoneyDance is one of the only budgeting programs that stores data on your computer instead of on the cloud. It offers advanced financial tracking, including bill pay through the platform. It costs $49.99 once for lifetime access.

CountAbout
CountAbout is a web-based software that allows you to import from Quicken or Mint. It's often thought of as a cloud-based alternative to Quicken, so it's better for using on-the-go. The basic plan is $9.99 per year.

MySpendingPlan
My Spending Plan is a comprehensive desktop budgeting software. It doesn't require you to input bank or credit card information. It uses the envelopes budgeting system. Price is 49€ a month.

What Makes a Great Budgeting App?

There are so many budget apps available online, both free and paid. To find the best option for you, think about what features you need. Consider:

Budgeting Creation:
What kind of budgeting does the app offer? Some apps only give you a report of your spending, while others force you to assign every dollar a job.

Auto sync or manual
Apps that allow you to link bank accounts will automatically sync transactions. Some other apps are manual entry only. This depends on what you prefer.

Goal Tracker
This feature is great for keeping track of your progress towards your goals. Some apps will help you set aside money every month towards your goals.

Debt Payoff
If you have debt, look for an app that helps you create a debt payoff plan.

Bill Management
If you have trouble keeping track of bills and payments, look for an app that sends bill reminders.

Alerts
Some apps will send alerts to your phone or email when your bank account balance reaches a certain level.

Credit Score Monitoring
Some apps come with credit score monitoring. This lets you keep an eye on your credit profile and any new/suspicious activities.

Simple Rule: 50/20/30 Budget

So how do you start making a budget? The most simple rule-of-thumb is called the 50/20/30 rule. Here's how it works.

  • 50% for needs: These are items that you absolutely have to have to survive, like rent, utilities, car costs, health insurance and basic food.

  • 30% for wants: This is your fun spending, like shopping, eating out, movies, Netflix subscription, etc.

  • 20% for savings: This is for paying off debt and savings for retirement and other life goals (like buying a house).

To start, first calculate your after-tax income. This is your take-home income after automatic deductions for health insurance and retirement contributions.

Once you have that number, then you will split it up according to the 50/30/20 percentages.

This budgeting method can work for some people, but may not work for others who need stricter guidelines. For example, if you have a lot of debt, then allocate more to paying it off first.

Bottom Line

If you're having trouble staying on top of your finances, a budgeting app can definitely help. It can help you cut down on cost, reduce debt, and reach your goals.

There are many both free and paid budgeting tools. If you really need help with your finances, it may make sense to commit to a paid app that forces you to stick to a budget and savings goals.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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