It’s true that there are an overwhelming amount of choices when it comes to budgeting apps. With so many to choose from, we’ve narrowed down the choices to the top 6.
Here are the actual best budget apps for 2021 (yes, we’ve tested them all):
- YNAB: Best app for paying off debt
- Qube Money: Best app to control spending (digital cash envelopes)
- Tilley Money: Best custom budget app (automatic spreadsheets)
- Personal Capital: Best app for managing investments
- Mint: Best free budgeting app
- EveryDollar: Best app for following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps.
YNAB is the top budgeting app to help you pay off debt. Create a custom budget in minutes, and save up to $500 per month!
Mint is the most popular free budgeting app around. Track your spending, investments and more with this top-tier budgeting app.
EveryDollar is Dave Ramsey's budgeting app, designed to help people create a simple budget and follow his Baby Steps. With the Ramsey+ membership, users can unlock FPU too!
What We Look For In A Budgeting App
These budgeting apps can help you save money, pay off debt, and build wealth. Different apps are right for different people, depending on their immediate and long term goals.
To see how the best budgeting apps stack up, we outline each app’s overall purpose and then spotlight its standout features.
- Looking to pay off debt?
- Trying to find a way to curb your spending?
- Love budgeting but want something more customizable?
- Want to find the best free budgeting app?
- Need something that goes beyond budgeting?
We’ve got you covered no matter what you need from a budgeting app. Read on to learn more and then try a few of these apps to find the best fit for you.
YNAB - Best App for Paying Off Debt
YNAB might very well be the perfect budgeting app. It’s certainly the best app for paying off debt. In fact, YNAB boasts that they are able to help users save an average of $6,000 in the first year. Yes, you read that right. Six thousand dollars!
YNAB is a financial platform that follows their 4 Rules of Budgeting. While users admit there is a bit of a learning curve when you are first getting started, the support YNAB offers is plentiful. Not only do they house some of the most robust app support we’ve ever seen. Their site is also home to tons of really compelling and entertaining financial education.
After using the app for a free 34-day trial, you can opt in for a monthly plan that costs $11.99. If you want to save some green, consider their annual subscription for $84.
YNAB's Best Feature - Living on Last Month's Money
One aspect of YNAB that sets it apart from the rest of the best budgeting apps is that it teaches users to live on last month’s month. As one of their 4 Rules of Budgeting, YNAB helps users track the “age” of their money.
The purpose is to make sure that you are living on last month’s money. Said another way, YNAB wants you to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck.
That’s why when you use the app, it actually shares a graphic of how old your money is. If you’ve ever felt like you can’t get ahead, this app has the fix for you!
Qube Money - Best App to Control Spending
Qube Money is a relative newbie on the best budgeting app scene. But it’s winning over hearts and wallets for good reason. It digitizes the cash envelope system. This cash envelope method has been proven to help people curb spending. The problem, though, is that many people find it a bit clunky to actually maneuver the physical envelopes in day-to-day life.
That’s where Qube comes in. The money envelopes--called Spending Qubes--are digital, so Qube Money can really help you dial into your spending. Because Qube is also a banking app, you can easily track your purchases and avoid overspending.
There are a variety of plan types, including a free version. The family plan makes Qube one of the best budgeting apps for couples. Since the app is still so new, you can also expect its offerings to continue to grow. Pricing ranges from $0 - $25 per month.
Qube Money's Best Feature - Default Zero Debit Card
Do you struggle with impulse spending or overspending? Qube Money’s built-in debit card can help you get your spending in check.
The Qube Visa Debit Card defaults to a balance of $0 by design. Why? Because just like a cash envelope system, Qube wants users to be intentional about where they put their money. Qube actually waits for you to use the app to select your Spending Qube before the money is available on the card.
That’s financial accountability in action!
Tiller Money - Most Flexible Budget App
Some people feel that budgeting is only for beginners. That simply isn’t true! But if you feel that way, you might just need a better budgeting tool. Tiller Money could be the solution for you.
Tiller offers a variety of budgeting templates, making it the most flexible budget app. As an added benefit, each template quickly and easily connects to either Google Sheets or Excel. That means that you can customize your budget to your life.
Tiller Money also automatically imports your transactions and provides email summaries. To see just how powerful Tiller is and what budgeting can do for you, swing by their online community to connect with other users.
This app is a paid budgeting tool, clocking in at $79 a year after the free trial.
Tiller Money's Best Feature - Email Summary
If the Google Sheets and Excel features weren’t enough to distinguish Tiller Money from the other best budgeting apps, the email summary certainly is.
Through Tiller Money, you have the option to receive a daily email summarizing all of your transactions. This daily summary of all of your financial accounts is so helpful in terms of allowing you to see the bigger financial picture. Plus, it’s one more way to protect yourself--from everything from your own impulse spending to fraudulent charges.
Personal Capital - Best App for Investment Tracking
Personal Capital is so much more than a budgeting tool. In fact, Personal Capital is probably the best money manager app thanks to the comprehensive overview it provides.
Whether you are just embarking on your personal finance journey or you’re working on your long-term financial goals, the Personal Capital app can help. The money management tools within Personal capital focus on your budget, net worth, savings goals, and cash flow.
Then, you can use their financial planning tools to help you plan for retirement, monitor your current investments, and more.
The app also offers actively managed wealth management services for a fee. But the tools we love are totally free for all Personal Capital users.
HPersonal Capital's Best Feature - Retirement Fee Analyzer
Personal Capital wins as a money manager app because it genuinely helps you keep tabs on all of your money, not just your budget.
One mistake many investors make is not understanding the impact that fees can have on your finances. The higher the fee, the less money you get to keep for your future. The Personal Capital Retirement Fee Analyzer reviews your current investments, assesses the fees, and helps you decide if there might be a better option available.
Mint - Best Free Budgeting App
Mint isn’t just the best free budgeting app; it’s also one of the best finance apps. That’s because Mint does so much more than just manage your budget.
Here’s a quick list of just some of the many things Mint does for your money:
- Tracks your spending
- Helps you set goals
- Monitors your progress on your goals
- Calculates your net worth
- Pulls your credit score
Mint also shines as a best budgeting app for couples because it tracks shared accounts or allows users to input individual accounts. No matter how you do money in your relationship, the Mint app will work for you!
Impressively, Mint does all of this for free. That’s why it certainly leads as the best free budgeting app. It is worth noting that Mint is able to do this for free due to the use of in-app advertising.
Check out our full Mint review for more details.
Mint's Best Feature - Net Worth & Credit Score Tracking
Mint captures your net worth as one of the Trends it monitors. Why does net worth matter so much? A single number packs a big financial punch. Mint calculates your net worth by subtracting any liabilities (read: credit card debt and loans) from your assets, such as cash savings and investments. When you first log into the app, you will see a graph that charts your net worth over time. It’s a helpful way to quickly monitor your own progress.
Monitoring your credit score is another way to keep on top of your financial health. Mint teamed up with Transunion Vantagescore to give you access to your credit score. This works with your Mint account, whether you use credit cards or not. You get your credit score and account summary all in one place, so you can review details like your credit usage and total number of accounts.
EveryDollar - Best App for Dave Ramsey Baby Steps
If you follow Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, the EveryDollar is perfect for you! The EveryDollar app allows users to input their income, project their expenses, and track their spending. The app includes a budgeting wizard, which is a series of prompts designed to help you build a budget in about 10 minutes.
The app is a zero-based budgeting app that gives every dollar a purpose. This money principle is something Dave Ramsey discusses a lot. The fact that both the basic and premium version of this app follow Ramsey’s teaching is certainly something that makes it helpful for many users.
The basic version of EveryDollar is free and requires you to manually input your transactions. If you are looking to automate, EveryDollar Pro is part of the Ramsey Plus membership for $129.99 a year.
Check out our full EveryDollar review for more details.
EveryDollar's Best Feature - Baby Steps
EveryDollar Plus is part of the Ramsey Plus Membership. With the membership, you get all the premium features of the EveryDollar budgeting app. You also unlock access to two other apps, one of which is called Baby Steps.
If you currently follow Dave Ramsey, you’re well versed in his Baby Steps. Think of these steps as your financial order of operations. They help you know which of your financial goals to tackle first and how to progress through them. Until this app, the Baby Steps may have felt a bit abstract.
With the Baby Steps app, you can actually chart your progress with their engaging graphics. Plus, the app offers insight and encouragement on your journey. The purpose is to cheer you on as you tackle your debt, boost your savings, and hit your money goals.
Budgeting App FAQ
When it comes to six of the best budgeting apps, how do you narrow it down? Hopefully, reviewing their unique standout features gave you a better sense of which app might fit your needs. But if you’ve still got questions about whether free or paids apps are best and how these apps keep you safe, read on!
Free vs. Paid Budget Apps. Which is Better?
Trying to decide between free and paid budget apps? Like everything else in personal finance, the choice is personal. It really depends on your goals.
For some people, free tools like Mint or the basic version of EveryDollar are more than enough to get you set up and budgeting. For others, it pays to pay a little extra, especially when many paid budgeting apps offer more support, more automation, and no ads.
A great way to see which of the best budgeting apps would work best for you is to take advantage of the free trials offered by the apps. Then, you can determine if a paid budget app better meets your needs.
Are Budget Apps Safe?
Budget apps are absolutely safe. In fact, as we conducted in-depth reviews for each of our six best budgeting apps, we prioritized safety. After all, the whole point of budgeting is to keep money in your pocket. That means that your account security was our top priority. Thankfully, each of these apps shares that priority.
With bank-rated encryption or higher, a variety of authentication factors, and other cutting-edge cybersecurity technology, you can rest assured that these budget apps are safe.
Can a Budget Really Save Me Money?
Yes, a budget really can save you money! How much money depends on what your spending looks like before you start using one of the best budgeting apps.
Here are some of the ways a budget saves you money:
- Makes you aware of your spending habits
- Encourages you to identify your values
- Aligns where your money goes with what you value
- Helps you spend and save effectively
- Eliminates mindless impulse purchases
While budgeting can seem restrictive in theory, budgeting is anything but. If you are looking for real financial freedom and an effective way to start saving money, you need to start budgeting today!
How We Chose The Best Budget Apps
We compared (and tested) over a dozen of the top budgeting apps on the market today. Honestly, many of them just weren’t intuitive, were overly complicated, and frustrating to use. We picked only the top apps based on ease of use, value, features, support, security, and price.
Some of the apps are free, some have paid features. We wanted to feature a wide range of options because everyone has different goals. These are our favorites, and we will keep this post updated if new ones come out and blow us away, or if any of these on the list perform poorly, we will remove them.