A reader wrote to me a couple of weeks ago and brought up the subject of mobile budgeting applications. He was wondering how to find the best budgeting apps amongst the huge number of options available.
Since I’m sure a lot of people have the same issue, I thought I would cover mobile budgeting apps here on B&E.
4 Budgeting Apps To Help Track Your Money
Before we dive into what budgeting apps are out there and their pros and cons, let’s get a couple of things straight. A budgeting app is just a tool. Learning how to create a budget and record expenses is a skill.
We need to focus on building the skill, the tool is a secondary issue. As far as the best app is concerned, which should you choose?
The basic answer is, any of them! The import thing is that you start budgeting using whatever tool you can.
Related: Forecasting Income And Expenses
Now, to make our lives easier it’s always nice to work with good tools so here’s a few budgeting apps which will make tracking your money easy.
Best known for their budgeting website, the Mint mobile application is the big daddy of budgeting and expense tracking applications. It’s a great app because it logs into your various accounts and pulls transactions and account balances into the program itself.
You can track your saving, chequing, TFSA, RRSP and investing accounts from the brick and mortar banks as well as their online brethren.
On the subject of security, the application uses industry standard protection to ensure your information is kept safe.
The application has a lot going for it but there are a few issues that I’ve noticed:
- You’ll have to manually categorize some transactions including cash transactions
- Syncing with some banks is problematic (CIBC/President’s Choice for example)
- Only banks from the US and Canada are supported
The best part about Mint is that it’s free! For a free tool, Mint has an exceptional amount of functionality which includes all sorts of tracking and charting capabilities. It will even show you trends in your income, debts, assets and net worth.
Another great choice is Home Budget. It offers the usual expense tracking and reporting capabilities in an easy to use, sleek interface.
This app’s big plus is that it allows multiple people to sync expense data. Using this feature, a couple could record their expense data throughout the day separately which reduces the amount of time needed to track everything.
The application has a nifty feature which allows you to view future dated expenses on your phone’s calendar. This is a great feature for looking ahead and planning your expenditures.
Home Budget costs $4.99 so just keep in mind that if you want to use the sync feature on several devices, you’ll be paying $4.99 per device. There is a free trial version available.
For a slimmed down, simple expense tracking tool, iSpending is a good choice. It lets you add expenses and track income with just a few taps on the screen.
The interface is simple, clean and uncomplicated. For those looking for a bare bones expense tracking tool, iSpending is a great app. There’s a limited functionality free version and a full version for $2.99.
You Need A Budget (YNAB)
YNAB is another well liked and feature rich budgeting tool. While the first three apps I mentioned can all operate on their own, the YNAB mobile offering must be used in conjunction with the desktop version.
This software also has the ability to sync data between multiple phones and PCs so recording and tracking your money is easy.
Related: Rules Of Thumb For Money
The desktop version is simple to use and has a pleasant modern interface. Beyond the standard expense entry and reporting features that all the apps have, YNAB distinguishes itself by providing a walk-through tutorial, technical support, and live online classes.
YNAB is the most pricey of the options at $60 for the desktop application plus an additional $4.99 for the mobile companion app. There’s a free trial available so you can try before you buy.
Make budgeting as easy as possible
Even though people love free apps, don’t be afraid to hand over a little hard earned cash for a good budgeting tool. Generally speaking we get what we pay for.
As I mentioned earlier, the most important part of tracking your spending is that you actually do it!
Be sure to invest in the best tool for the job that will make budgeting as painless as possible. Just making one or two small changes to your spending habits will pay off the cost of the most expensive option!
Andrew Martin is a personal finance and investing blogger from Toronto, Ontario with a background in technology and a passion for travel. His blog, She Thinks I’m Cheap aims to help Canadians make more money by sharing facts, stories and advice.