~Last updated May 2018~
Is there a budgeting app or software that “does it all” for you? Short answer: no – but there are some good ones that can help you along the way.
Key takeaway: no computer can sync and categorize your spend 100% correctly for you; ones that have you manage your budgeting within them ultimately help you understand your use of money.
Budgeting software tends to be high-touch, that is to say it requires a fair amount of your participation. However what you get from it is a LOT of insight and ways to plan around your income, goals, and expenses.
YouNeedABudget is for managing your day to day spend, and it’s a software on your browser and an app on your phone and the two sync.
– You need to be willing to, well, budget – and to enter your spending as you go digitally and create a plan.
+ A lot of tracking features so you can see what your money goes to.
+ It’s currently $60, which is like $5/month to get your s#*t together. Not bad!
+ those who use it LOVE it, but if you can’t commit to managing entries in it you might get overwhelmed by the numbers and volume of content
MVelopes is a software in your computer’s browser that syncs with your bank account and a spending tracking app on your phone.
- will let you sync multiple accounts (bank accounts, credit cards)
- You set up a spending plan that you can track in real time using an “envelopes” approach to allocate money that you then track coming “out of your envelope”
- Households can use it more easily than other software because it’s more flexible
- The interface can be a little confusing and since it’s so customizable, and the concept of “envelope” spending takes some getting used to
An app uses more computerization, like connecting to your bank account and credit card, to automagically import (and try to categorize) your instances of spending from those accounts. Budgeting apps also tend to be free and therefore they are data mining your spending habits in exchange for their helpfulness. However many people find them worthwhile because of the convenience (I do).
Wally is a free app for your iPhone or Android that you enter your spending into, to track it.
— It doesn’t automatically collect info for you, (e.g not data mining you, but you have to do more work)
+ It DOES show you what you’ve spent on the daily and what’s left in your budget [that you set up].
+ You can take photos of receipts.
— You can’t put a version on your computer.
— It says it “leverages social information” …which perhaps means it connects with your Facebook to remind you where you were, spending money? Again this means, to me, it’s collecting a baller data set on your spending habits but — hey — if you don’t care [and if you’re using Facebook to talk about your spending…you don’t] then perhaps it’s worth it.
Clarity Money is an app with a desktop interface, that also syncs your accounts and uses AI to try to suggest where you can save money.
- + it has a great, easy to use interface
- – it will suggest products to you and that you use their savings account product (you don’t have to)
- + it will show you a snapshot of recurrent bills to help you cancel some
A dashboard pulls together data from several places to give you a holistic snapshot of your money: usually combining real-time reports on your checking, savings, and more investments so you can keep the big picture in mind and drill down into the weeds as needed.
Personal Capital (this is my pick) is free:
- Sync checking, savings, credit card, investments, retirement, and mortgage accounts to track ALL your money. Plus you can add manual accounts easily
- Free but they will call you to try to get you to use their advisors (you don’t have to)
- Intuitive dashboard and spending tracker > less about creating a budget than knowing where your money is, or has gone.
Mint is a free online software and app you can connect to your bank and credit account(s):
+ Use and view on your computer OR phone
+ it has you create budgets, and helps track your spending by importing your bank account activity for you, no need to enter every dang purchase yourself.
– lately it’s app reviews aren’t so good
In closing, on budgeting:
No software or app is a replacement for your commitment to making a plan and checking in on that plan, whether you do it digitally or on paper is up to you. Either way: you deserve that commitment — and it’s the best way to ensure you know what your money is up to!