If you’re looking for the best budgeting tools for 2020, then we’ve got quite the thorough list for you! Whether you’re looking for an app to help you manage a simple budget or you’re looking for help to reign in spending, chances are you’ll find something great to use below.
Before we dive in, we want to cover some FAQs regarding budgeting tools.
Is a paid budgeting tool better than a free one?
Not necessarily. As you’ll see below, one of the best all-in-one apps we discuss is free. It really depends on what you’re looking for.
I’m wary of my finances online. Are they safe?
Generally yes, but remember that 100% safety usually isn’t possible on any app or really, any internet-based anything. That’s just the nature of the beast. That said, a safe app should have high level encryptions in place (VeriSign, multi-factor authentication, etc.) and of course, be your own advocate and read all the security-based fine print before registering. Do your due diligence and read reviews, too.
Why would I use a budgeting app?
If you’re concerned about your day-to-day spending, or you just want to instill better habits, using a budgeting app can help you achieve those goals. Depending on the tool you use, you can set short and long term goals and watch in real-time as you progress towards them. Sometimes, having that visual is helpful when you’re working hard towards something, providing positive feedback that you’re on your way!
Here are 5 budgeting tools you can use to help manage your day-to-day finances. We’ve based our selection on comprehensive options: is it a one-stop-budgeting-tool-shop or does it only do one or two things, cost and simplicity.
It’s great for: Intro to budgeting (great for teaching your pre-teens about money). Fee: Free. Downsides: Has credit card offers inside.
Mint was created by the same company (Intuit) that made TurboTax and Quickbooks - so it comes from a good family. Mint is an excellent, free app to see all of your financial life in one place. In addition to telling you where you’re spending, how much and on what, it also provides you with a free credit score, credit monitoring, and education. It’s extremely easy to set up and very simple to use. It has a clean dashboard, making it easy to get an idea of what’s going where in a brief glance.
The strength of Mint is the fact it’s able to connect with almost every single American financial institution, making it easy to “import” and track your spending in live time. If that’s not for you, you can always add income and expenditures manually.
Over time, Mint even analyzes your spending to determine “trends” you have. Eventually, it will even give you trends based on month, quarter or annually. Moreover, you can see if you have any spending trends based on a particular vendor to see if you’re spending your money more in one place than another, which can be helpful if you’re trying to cut costs somewhere and wondering where to start.
Just note that you’ll receive offers within the app for credit cards, and the like. If that bothers you, maybe Mint isn’t for you.
Mint is available on iOS and Android.
It’s great for: Those who are overwhelmed with budgeting and need something really simple to use. Fee: Free trial, then monthly (or annual) fee. Downsides: It’s not free (though if you want your kids to use it, it’s free for students) and lacks some more “advanced” features (like investments and taxes).
YNAB says it isn’t a “set it and forget it” kind of budgeting tool and is a “zero-based” budgeting system (your income - your expenditures= 0). That doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to blow every spare dollar in a discretionary way, but rather that every dollar has a purpose. The very philosophy behind YNAB is this, to be proactively assigning a duty to each dollar you have.
YNAB tracks all of your transactions and your budget, and like Mint, can link directly to your financial institutions, and generates reports on how much you’re spending in each category, but what makes YNAB stand out (at this time) is that it syncs with Amazon’s Alexa. Simply ask Alexa for information about your available funds or to record transactions for you to make inputting data literally touchless.
It isn’t free (pricing is, at the time of this post, $6.99 per month) though it does have a 34 day trial period.
That said, YNAB’s downsides are that there’s no investment reporting or tracking features, but you probably have a financial advisor to help you with that...right?
YNAB is also available on iOS and Android.
Other helpful tools
There are literally dozens of tools to help you budget and save money. Here are some, by category, that you can check out!
Qapital - rounds up change to the nearest dollar and moves it into a savings account
Peak Money - tracks goals, lets you round up expenses to save a little extra (only available on iOS, though).
Finding the Best Deals
TrueBill - subscription manager, finds better deals Trim - negotiate down bill prices and cancels subscriptions for you
Paribus by CapitalOne - helps you get money back from major stores from missed sales and negotiating refunds
Cash Back Apps
Checkout51 - redeem cash back deals available within the app that you can use at any retailer. You can “cash out” when you hit a minimum of $20 and the check comes in the mail.
Shopkick - Earn points just shopping in-store and online. You redeem the points for gift cards.
Rakuten - You can actually shop at Rakuten.com or use their app to find store-specific deals. When you make a purchase, cash back will be added to your account. You cash out every quarter and can receive the cash by check, PayPal or to your bank account.