As we begin a new year, one resolution on the top of countless people’s lists is bound to be “spend less, save more.” But as with many resolutions, even the best intentions won’t add up to much if you don’t combine it with a serious step-by-step plan of how you are going to accomplish it.
Fortunately, it’s more easy, and even fun, than ever to get a handle on both saving and spending with the wide range of budgeting apps that are available. These tools let you track your expenses and see where your money is going, often in real time, and accessed easily from your phone. And for more ways to get your finances in great working order, know these 52 Ways to Be Smarter with Money in 2018.
One of the most popular budgeting apps out there, likely because it is also one of the easiest to use, Mint connects with all your bank, credit card, and investment accounts, giving you a comprehensive view of your saving, spending, and assets.
It crunches the numbers and provides you with your average spending by each category (Auto & Transport, Bills & Utilities, etc.), and makes automatic suggestions of budget targets based on this spend and your income. It allows you to plan for a one-time-only expense as well as recurring monthly expenses and is all done in a pretty cool-looking interface that makes it almost fun to cut back on your spending. And for more great ways to be savvier with money, here are 40 Ways to Save 40 Percent of Your Paycheck.
Formerly called EEBA, or Easy Envelope Budget Aid, this app still uses the “envelope” approach to spending and saving that has been effective since people were using paper envelopes to set aside cash for various expenses each month. You decide how much you are going to spend in each category for the month, then “spend from the envelope” rather than from your credit card or savings account.
The app makes it easy to create a budget that reflects your goals and values, setting aside what you believe is needed each month, and also syncing it with your spouse, family, or anyone else with whom you need to coordinate your spending. And for more top money tips, here are 20 Side Hustles for Putting Your Savings on Steroids.
Speaking of the envelope system, this app take a similar approach of combining the age-old envelope system with new, convenient technology. It offers several different tiers of plans, each costing a bit more a month. These range from Mvelopes Basic, which includes real-time budgeting and integration with bank, credit card, and financial accounts, up to Mvelopes Complete, which offers a personal financial trainer to help you slim down your spending and “whip your finances into shape,” helping you set goals and track progress with the encouragement of another person. And for more advice, try these 40 Ways to Seriously Boost Your Savings After 40.
Self-proclaimed the “most intuitive finance app ever,” this tool provides a clear view of where your money goes every day, week, and month. It allows for shared manual wallets so you and family or friends can keep track of particular spending and savings areas, and includes a “travel mode” that can support any other international currency if you are traveling or working abroad. It’s free to use, but also offers Spendee Premium, which allows users to create as many wallets as they want, synchronizes with bank accounts, and more.
This “intuitive money management” tool helps users compare income to expenses, giving a clearer idea of where their money is going each month. It lets you log your expenses with manual entries as well as photographing a receipt, and even uses location services to figure out where you are when entering an expense—saving you the step of entering that detail. It’s also helpful in its notifications, letting you know when a bill is due for payment or when you reach a savings goal.
This app connects to all of your financial accounts and creates a simple, immediate budget, offering up ways you can cut down on your spending—that you will actually follow. It’s good at giving you a big picture of your finances but also allowing for drilling down into individual bills and expense, finding ways to lower recurring bills and reduce spending in some of your priciest categories.
PocketGuard generates easy-to-ready charts tracking your spending and making it simple to see where you could afford to make some trims.
This app is less interested in creating a comprehensive view of your spending and income than helping you with one aim: saving up for a one-time purchases. You can choose whatever long-term goal you like—vacation, new car, paying off a student loan—and then log and track your progress in putting aside money to help pay for it. It also includes a social component, where you can see what other people are saving for, how they are progressing toward that, and cheer them on as they go. And if you’re looking for some vacation inspiration, don’t miss the 20 Most Zen Places on Earth.
You Need a Budget
This app combines income and expense tracking with self-help rules about your spending. For example, one of its strictures is to “Give Every Dollar a Job,” being intentional about what you want your money to do before spending it (i.e. assigning specific dollar amounts to each category of spending), rather than letting your income fritter away over the weeks. It urges you to “Embrace Your True Expenses,” not only paying for recurring and daily expenses, but being honest about what big-ticket items you have down the road (holidays, vacations, a new car) and creating budgets for these. You Need a Budget makes it simple to do this, and adjust your budget as needed, and also offers online classes for users to join in order to fully get their spending under control.
This app drills deeper than most others, providing daily tracking of your expenses, telling you how much you can afford to spend right now, rather than over the month as a whole. It also lets you set up your individual monthly budget, including recurring and one-time expenses and income, with savings goals and a view into your spending by individual categories—allowing you to see where your money goes on a daily or weekly basis. You can also use the application to export monthly data in a csv file, letting you work with it in Excel or elsewhere.
This expense tracker gives you an immediate summary of your expenses, bills, income, and budget for the current month, allowing you to easily add, modify, and delete as needed. You can generate reports to see a trend graph of your spending and income over the previous months—exporting the data by email to your computer. It also includes a Forecast feature which you can use to predict activity in each account. You can easily sync it across your devices and share with family members. Take this newfound focus on your finances and channel it into using the 40 Best Ways to Jumpstart Your Career so you can make more money, period.
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