Let’s be real: Budgeting and financial planning is no one’s favorite activity. That is, except for the 18% of people who reported that financial planning makes them feel “excited and inspired,” according to a 2018 study by Northwestern Mutual (if anyone wants to send those people my way, my budgeting plan could use a morale boost). A solid 40% of those surveyed, however, expressed negative feelings associated with financial planning, which is completely understandable. Calculating finances and tracking your spending can be a headache; No one wants to be reminded of all the times they ordered Postmates instead of cooking at home, and it can be a confusing process for those without a finance background or organization savvy.
The good news is, say it with me, “There’s an app for that!” Actually, there’s many apps for that. Budgeting apps are an amazing resource for anyone who wants to buckle down and start budgeting but doesn’t know where to start. With a range of apps available, there are endless options catered to what you hope to get out of the experience, what you need help with, and what type of spender you are. The question isn’t, “How do I find a budgeting app?” but rather, “Which one should I pick?”
The fact of the matter is that more people are budgeting than ever. According to a 2021 survey conducted by Debt.com, 80% of Americans reported having a budget, which is up by 12% since 2019. There’s no better time to get started than right now, so Loop has got you covered with the best apps for budgeting in 2021.
For someone who likes to have control, try You Need A Budget
Calling all type A control freaks — no shame, we were undoubtedly the ones who carried elementary school group projects — You Need A Budget is the perfect budgeting app for you. While some budgeting apps market themselves on the premise of allowing you to be passive and budget without even realizing what you’re doing, YNAB is all about teaching you to allocate every dollar, keeping you in total control. Rather than showing you how much money you spent at the end of each month, YNAB aims to help you practice forward thinking, allowing you to easily adjust your budget as time passes. It’s important to note that after a 34-day free trial, You Need A Budget costs $84 a month.
For the person with no space in their budget for a budgeting app, try Mint
Mint has been unanimously named the best free budgeting app on the market right now. If you’re hoping to start budgeting but can’t swing a monthly or yearly fee, Mint could be a great option for you. By allowing you to have all your accounts, bills, transactions, and investments in one place, Mint makes it convenient and easy to stay organized and keep track of your money. There are also in app alerts about upcoming bills you have to pay, as well as suggestions for ways you could cut costs. Mint categorizes all of your payments for you, and the app also gives you the option to create as many unique categories as you would like. Overall, Mint has a wide selection of features and app capabilities great for a beginner budgeter.
For goal-oriented couples, try Zeta or Twine
Merging finances isn’t always easy, and couples hoping to share their finances have to pay extra attention to their budgeting practices. That’s why apps like Zeta and Twine are especially helpful: They allow you to monitor your finances as a team, have open communication, and stay on the same page.
Twine in particular is catered towards goal-oriented couples who are saving towards a wedding, a vacation, a child’s college tuition, whatever it may be. These goals can be categorized as “me” goals or “we” goals, emphasizing that individual aspirations are equally as important as joint savings. Similarly, Zeta is also designed for couples or families and offers no-fee joint accounts, as well as sets reminders for “Money Dates” to encourage you and your partner to chat about money in a frequent, stress-free way.
For the person with too many subscriptions to count, try Simplifi by Quicken
Simplifi by Quicken has advanced tracking capabilities that make it a great tool for managing a budget with sneaky costs that may otherwise slip through the cracks. I’m all too guilty of forgetting to cancel free trials of subscriptions and letting them run in the background, with no sure system of how to remember which sites are taking money out of my pocket. With an app like Simplifi that tracks all monthly bills and subscriptions, those worries can be put to rest.
While Simplifi offers the routine features of a budgeting app, they also specifically have a system called Watchlists, that allows you to keep a close eye on any particular part of your budget you’d like to monitor. You can set it to limit the amount of money you spend on this Watchlist, or you can simply observe your spending and hone in on one particular category or even store. I’ve always been a little scared to know how much money I spend at Starbucks, but a Watchlist would let me take a closer look and see if that cash could be better allocated.
For someone who wants to sit back and let the app do it’s thing, try Trim
While some people prefer to overlook every dollar that goes in and out of their budget, others understandably would rather take a back seat. Look no further than Trim, an app whose motto is that it does the work for you. Trim goes behind the scenes and analyzes your phone, cable, and internet bills, and sees if there are lower prices on the market for the same services. In this way, Trim can save you money without limiting any spending — they simply trim off some of the edges. While it’s free to sign up, a Premium account with negotiating capabilities is $99 a year.
No matter what app you choose, what kind of spender you are, and what stage of life you’re in, it’s never a bad time to start budgeting. End the cycle of feeling guilty for spending money and take control of your finances. Let budgeting empower you, rather than hold you back.