2016 is finally gone, and not a moment too soon for most of us. With the start of the new year, our attention inevitably turns to making resolutions and plans for a fresh start with the turn of the calendar.
For many that means getting their financial house in order and that is going to require some of you to create a personal budget. Getting your finances in order can be difficult if you plan on tackling the job all by yourself. In today’s technologically advanced world you no longer need to go it alone. That is because there is a myriad of budgeting apps available to provide you with the assistance you need to get the job done right.
However, locating the right app in a sea of possibilities could prove challenging and frustrating. There are so many to choose from, each with various degrees of functionality and features. Some of them might have too few options, others packed with too many bells and whistles. Finding the one that’s just right for you shouldn’t be a pain in the neck.
That is why we have narrowed it down to the 10 best apps on the market for 2017. They all bring the necessary essentials for a dependable budgeting app. That means each can help you track how much you are spending each week, month, or even year.
They also manage the money in each of your accounts, monitor your spending habits and routines. Plus, they help allocate what you need to put towards your bills and other financial obligations. Best of all, each of these apps will provide valuable assistance in keeping you on budget. They will assist you in implementing a strategy for becoming debt-free in the coming year.
Why Use a Budgeting App?
Getting a handle on your money is not always an easy task. That is why a reliable budgeting app can be just the thing you need to manage your money effectively. Many of these apps use software that offer a user interface to present your financial picture. They do it in an easy to access manner with the most accurate and up to date information at all times.
How each app accomplishes this is a large part of what makes one better than another. The best budgeting apps will typically incorporate some combination of useful features. These can include expense categorizing, secure encryption, and compatibility with all of your assets and accounts.
All of these apps also let you take your budget with you on the go. They allow full access to all of their features on Android and iOS operating systems. Our mobile devices are a vital component of today’s active lifestyles. Having the ability to manage your finances in real time is one of the best reasons to look into a good budgeting app to add to your smartphone or tablet.
Selecting the Right Budgeting App
To pinpoint the best apps amongst a seemingly endless list of choices, we have compared and explored everything that is currently available on the market. Some are free, others will charge you a fee to download.
Both types are on our list. Yet, when you are making a decision as to which budgeting app to choose, whether you find it on our list or not, there are a few things to consider before committing to one over another.
The only reason to download any app is if it’s something that you will actually use regularly. You need to find an app that meets your specific budgeting needs and expectations. That means looking past the bells and whistles and checking out the functionality of the app yourself.
Some of them come with demos and tutorials that let you test drive it before you commit to using it. One other thing to keep in mind is even if the app is chock-full of features and accessories, it does not necessarily mean it’s the best app for you. You might not even use all of the options that come with it. If you don’t, then why are you using that app?
Safe and Secure
Your budgeting app is going to use sensitive banking and other financial information that must remain confidential. It’s important to know how secure the app is in regards to handling that info so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Check out what the app requires from you in order to operate effectively. How much information is it asking for? Do you believe it should have that information stored within its memory? Steer clear of any app that might ask for your account passwords, no reputable budgeting app or software will need those.
Free or Fee?
Some budgeting apps offer two stages of service. One is the free version that lets you use a basic yet useful version of the software. The other is the paid version that gives you access to all the bells and whistles available.
Which one you choose is up to you. The free version might give you everything you need already without ponying up some dough. The trade-off is that you may have to deal with seeing ads on the app. The pay version may give you more than you need, but you won’t see any advertisements. In a few cases, the app is only available after you pay for it. However, the fee may be just a few dollars and thus still affordable.
Make sure the app is compatible in your home country, as not all apps work around the globe. If not, the app may not sync up or connect with your bank accounts. It may not comply with the legal restrictions that govern your country’s financial system. Check to make sure the app you prefer is available where you live and bank.
Now you know the fundamentals of what you should be focused on when you’re about to choose and download your specific app.
Here are 10 of the hottest tools to help you balance your budget for 2017:
This budgeting software from Intuit, maker of Quickbooks and TurboTax, is currently the most popular financial management system on the market today. This is the most thorough and comprehensive software for getting your finances in check simply because it affords users so many different options and features in one basic and straightforward user interface.
Mint lets you monitor and record every financial transaction that you make in every one of your accounts so that you can keep track of each dollar coming in and going out. This provides you with the most accurate picture of your current financial situation by letting you monitor your spending habits and maintaining an up to the minute data analysis of all the monetary information that you input into the software. Mint lets you sync up your bank accounts and credit card accounts from the minute you sign up, incorporating your financial history for as far back as you wish. From there, it will continue to track each account and let you know where every cent was allocated so you can see your net worth at a glance.
These features have all been available on the Mint software for your home computer and now the company’s mobile app gives you the same convenience and accessibility on the go, along with a collection of other useful perks to help you get a handle on your spending. You can move every transaction into different categories, check your account balances, review budgets that you’ve made, even pay bills from the app. It can also send you an alert if an account balance falls below a certain amount and remind you when a payment is due. What’s even more helpful is that you can disable the service on any device should your phone, laptop, or tablet is lost or stolen, that way your sensitive data won’t be compromised.
2.You Need a Budget
The app abbreviated as just simply YNAB can help you monitor all your accounts, show you how and where you’re spending your money, and let you make comprehensive plans for your financial future. You’ll find all of the important tools for building an effective budget in this app as it includes all of your accounts including bank and credit cards as well as any investment accounts that you may own so you have the most accurate and precise accounting of your net worth.
Using the app is quite simple, eschewing the complicated menus and multi-level navigation for an easy to read and understand interface that makes budgeting simple. Categorize your expenses in any way you see fit, labeling them for quick access, and you can also save your budgets so that you may bring them over from one month to the next, adjusting as necessary for any shifts and changes that take place in your finances. But for those of you who want an app that brings more wide-ranging complexity to creating a budget, you will need to look elsewhere. This one sticks mostly to the basics. Don’t despair though, we have plenty of other options on our list…
This is an app that is designed to do more than just merely help you build a budget (though it’s also quite useful for this task as well). With Wallaby you can get the most out of your spending while tracking where you spend your money because it helps you maximize the amount of rewards points you can earn when you spend that money. Once you sign up, you tell the service which accounts you want it to track and then it pulls all of the information from those sources and displays them in full summary form. The app will even categorize all of your transactions in the same way as Mint and many other similar apps we’re covering in this list.
But what makes this app stand out for us is the way it can advise you which of your credit cards to use at which retailer. If you own any cash-back or rewards points credit cards then you’re well aware of the ways to earn those rewards by way of certain spending categories. You may get 1% on all purchases but earn 2% or 3% at supermarkets, warehouse stores, and gas stations. When you have the Wallaby app installed, it will remind you about which card to use so you never miss out on your rewards.
Wallaby is also secure to the point of giving you the option of setting up a PIN or touch ID lock to access the app. That kind of security can give you piece of mind knowing the app has so much of your financial data displayed on it.
The folks at LevelMoney created a smart budgeting app that you download entirely for free on any iPhone or Android device. It’s perfect for creating detailed budgets that can be as general or specific as you like. Whether you’re putting together a general household budget or budgeting for a new baby, LevelMoney gives you all of the tools for building it to your specifications. After you’re done, the app can track your expenditures in real time to help you stick to whatever budget you’ve created.
Planning is the main focus of LevelMoney and the app does so in a simple way so that anyone can build a budget without complicated menus or instructions to understand. It’s a great solution for anyone who wants to monitor basic finances for their checking account or credit card spending and needs a little help staying on track to reach their fiscal goals. So the next time you’re about to make a purchase of any kind, you just check the app and it will tell you whether or not that transaction will knock you off budget or not.
Effective budgeting is the smart way to improving your credit score. WalletHub is the smart app to use for helping you budget and monitor your score. Sure it has all of the budgeting tools you need to prevent you from overspending on frivolous items and keeping you focused on meeting your financial obligations, but it also comes with a credit monitoring feature that uses reporting data from TransUnion and VantageScore to give you the most recent numbers on your credit report. That’s not just once a month or even every week either, WalletHub provides you with an updated credit score daily. That can really be of use for those of you who are working hard to improve your score through responsible money management.
Since budgeting apps are designed to help you save money and put it towards the things you really need or want, WalletHub won’t charge you for downloading the app. It’s entirely free and available for smartphones and tablets, giving you complete control of your finances on the go!
There may be no better motivating factor for budgeting your finances than debt. That’s why we like Debt Manager, an app that has one goal in mind, getting you out of debt. It does this by presenting you with an easy to manage user interface that gives you all the tools you need to organize your obligations and track your spending habits so that you can finally pay down the money you owe. The developers have programmed the app to help you do that by way of the so-called “debt snowball” method.
The debt snowball method is really simple to understand – you list all of your debts, starting with the smallest amount you owe at the top. Be sure to include all of your items, both one-time payments and recurring items like loans and credit card bills. From there, the app helps you budget your money to allocate funds towards paying down your debt each month, typically making minimum payments to all of your big items except for the smallest amount up top. Over time, your balances will begin to get lower until you’re debt free.
The app gives you a sliding scale to work from where you can adjust how much you allocate each month and it tracks and organizes your money into those monthly payments and gives you analysis reports on your progress. You can also create customized reports of all your transactions.
One of the more basic but beneficial apps on our list, PocketGuard is available for iPhones and Android devices and brings all of the useful budgeting and tracking tools you would expect from a reliable budgeting app on our list. You just simply download and install it and you’re ready to get started. It’s also free to use.
Once you sign up, you sync it up with all of your banking and credit card accounts to get real time, up to the minute tracking information for every balance. The app can also help you pay bills, monitor your expenses, and build a budget to manage your spending with reports to let you know how you’re doing. Don’t worry about missing a payment either, PocketGuard will alert you when a due date is approaching and it can even tell you if your current expenses will put you in the red when future payments come due in the coming days or weeks. So you’ll never be caught off guard again with PocketGuard.
Buxfer is a popular budgeting software program for your home computer in that it does connects with all of your accounts including banking, credit cards, investment and savings accounts, even your loan accounts should you have any under your name. Set them all into the software and you’re ready to get real time monitoring of all your incoming and outgoing activity for a clear and accurate picture of what you have and what you owe.
The budgeting side comes in by letting you categorize your activity for each account and set spending parameters for any or all of them, with full customization options to control the information you receive on each one. The software even alerts you if you are starting to drift out of your budget limits by overspending or extending yourself too far over the edge on any one account.
All of these options are available on the mobile app as well, which is available for all device operating systems and even offers a few additional features like generating and sharing reports and other pertinent information for every account that you’ve synced up to the Buxfer software.
Sometimes you need a little more security in safeguarding your finances. Sure it offers all of the useful budgeting, tracking, and monitoring tools you’re going to find on any good budgeting app in the Apple Store or on Google Play, but where BillGuard goes one step further is by offering that additional layer of security in protecting your money from fraudulent activity.
BillGuard includes features that not only track your spending habits and transactions but also monitors your credit to alert you about any suspicious activity. All too often we discover something on our credit history far too late and won’t know something’s happened until applying for a loan or credit line with a score that doesn’t get approved. Not any more with BillGuard, if the app detects something is awry, it lets you know immediately to rectify the problem.
10.Your Bank App
Every major bank has them now. Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, even credit unions are getting in on the mobile app craze. These apps are free to download to your mobile device and give you all the tools necessary to monitor your activity to help you budget your finances better. You can pay bills from these apps, deposit checks, and monitor your spending habits by organizing your transactions as you see fit. All you need to do is check out your bank’s website and it will tell you how to download and install their app. Just about all of them are free of charge too, as long as you have an account with the bank.
Our Final Thoughts
Budgeting apps are a terrific way to get a handle on your money for 2017 and if you’re among the millions working through debt or some form of financial hardship, the first place to get started is with creating a budget. But budgeting doesn’t need to be a difficult thing to deal with either, sometimes a budget is for reaching a life-long dream or achieving a certain goal. All of these apps can help you get where you want to go in life and make money management an easy and enjoyable process to boot.