6 of the Best Budgeting Apps in 2021

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A budgeting app can be very helpful whether you’re new to budgeting altogether or your current method just isn’t working for you.

In this article, I’ll take a close look at six of the best budgeting apps and websites that can help you take control of your money.

I’ve downloaded each of the apps listed below and tried them out myself. I’ve also looked into their ratings, reviews, security and more to ensure they’re safe to use. 

6 of the Best Budgeting Apps for iPhone and Android

Finding a budgeting method that works for you is an important step toward achieving your financial goals. It’s important to keep track of your income, expenses and other purchases in order to take control of where your money is going. While you can set up a budget on your own, there are plenty of budgeting apps available that can set one up for you and help you stick to it.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal budget or budgeting app that’s going to work for everyone. Instead, you’ll need to find something that makes the most sense for you. 

Here, you’ll find six of the best budgeting apps for 2021:

AppBest ForPriceApp Ratings
MintTracking ExpensesFreeApp Store 4.8
Google Play 4.5
Personal CapitalInvestmentsFreeApp Store 4.7
Google Play 4.4
You Need a Budget (YNAB)Strict Budgeting$11.99/month or $84/year
34-day trial
App Store 4.8
Google Play 4.3
PocketGuardAvoiding OverspendingFreeApp Store 4.7
Google Play 3.9
MvelopesHands-on Budgeting$5.97/month or $69/year
30-day free trial
App Store 4.4
Google Play 3.3
HoneydueCouplesFreeApp Store 4.5
Google Play 4.1

Below, you’ll find more detailed information on each budgeting tool including what features are available, what makes it secure and how to decide which one is best for you.

Mint

Best free budgeting app for tracking expenses
Cost: Free
Average app rating: 4.7

Mint is a money management tool that’s owned by Intuit, which is the same company that owns TurboTax. According to its website, Mint has been around for more than a decade. It brings together all of your accounts in one place to give you a snapshot of your financial life. Plus, it’s completely free! 

Money expert Clark Howard has been a fan of Mint for years. In his opinion, Mint is the best of the best budgeting apps. 

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“Mint has stood the test of time and will help you categorize your spending in so many different ways, and so much of it is done automatically to help you get control of what you’re up to.”

If you’re curious about where your money has been going, looking for motivation to start saving, need alerts to remind you of upcoming bills or simply want to see all of your investments and net worth in one place, Mint may be the perfect budgeting app for you. It’s also the only app on the list that provides a free credit score.

When I downloaded Mint and set up a budget myself, here were the biggest benefits and drawbacks that I found with the app:

Pros:Cons:
Features: Mint offers a huge variety of features that hold up pretty well compared to similar budgeting tools.Personal Info: You will have to enter usernames and passwords from your accounts to link them to Mint, but this data is securely stored and protected. 
Alerts: You can set up alerts to help you catch unexpected fees, stay within your budget, and pay your bills on time. Investments: You won’t be able to manage your investments with Mint. The most you can do is link your investment accounts so that they’re all displayed on the same page. 
Price: The website and app are completely free to use. Ads: Since Mint doesn’t charge a fee, you can expect to see some ads and promotions across the website and app. 
Comprehensiveness: In addition to budgeting tools, Mint provides a full financial overview including investments, a free credit score and more. 

If you’re thinking about trying out Mint, you can read our full review here.

Personal Capital

Best for tracking investments and net worth
Cost: Free
Average app rating: 4.6

If you’re focused mainly on your investments or you’re planning for retirement, Personal Capital may be the best budgeting app for you. 

It’s completely free to download for iPhone or Android, and its financial planning tools are available for anyone to use. However, if you want to invest with Personal Capital, you’ll need at least $100,000 to start. 

The free tools that you’ll find on the budgeting app include net worth tracking, a retirement planner, an investment/portfolio checkup feature, an investment fee analyzer, cash flow tracking and budgeting. If you invest through Personal Capital, you’ll get additional features including tracking and help with college savings, insurance, home financing, stock options and more. 

When Team Clark tried out the Personal Capital app, we found the following pros and cons:

Pros:Cons:
Free financial planning tools. The large majority of Personal Capital’s users aren’t paying customers. The firm’s free, visual and detailed financial planning tools are among the best you can find.Budgeting tool not the strongest. Personal Capital’s financial planning tools deserve plenty of praise. However, its budgeting tool has gotten some criticism for not being as strong as those of Mint and others — and also because some of its features aren’t available on mobile.
Financial advisors’ services. The company’s advisors can help with retirement, estate and tax planning, refinancing and even getting a mortgage. In that way, Personal Capital more closely resembles a full-service financial advisor.Relatively expensive management fee. Personal Capital charges 0.89% per year. That’s a good price compared to full-service financial advisors, but it’s expensive relative to other hybrid financial advisors (automated digital investing with access to human financial advice).
Monitoring/optimizing retirement investing. Personal Capital’s free financial planning tools are good at guiding you toward your retirement goals by monitoring your progress. Its paid advisory services get you even more custom tips on how to optimize your retirement strategy.Reputation for frequent solicitation. Personal Capital has a reputation for using your personal information to contact you to pitch its investing and financial advising products. And there are complaints from users that it targets high-worth folks more frequently.
Unusually customizable portfolios. Personal Capital’s portfolio options are much more customizable than the average robo-advisor and even the average hybrid financial advisor. Customers can even invest in individual stocks and bonds at certain investment levels.Significant minimum deposit. You’ll need to invest at least $100,000 in order to become a customer. You’ll need to increase that number to $200,000 and then to $1 million to unlock significant features.

If you’re interested in free financial planning tools that will especially help you work toward retirement, Personal Capital can be a great choice. To learn more about the app, check out our full review.

YNAB

YNAB app homepage with a "to be budgeted" amount

Best for creating a strict budget
Cost: $11.94/month or $84/year after a 34-day free trial
Average app rating: 4.6

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You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a budgeting app that stands apart from competitors because of its proactive system. 

YNAB’s approach to budgeting requires you to be forward-thinking and intentional about every dollar. In this way, you’ll be able to take total control of your finances.

You can link your bank accounts and/or track your earnings, bills and transactions manually. Either way, as soon as you’ve earned a dollar, YNAB will ask you to assign it to a category: bills, savings, groceries, etc. This zero-based budgeting method paired with YNAB’s features is a great way to take control of your finances. 

Unfortunately, YNAB isn’t free. It costs $11.94/month or $84/year, but you can try it out for free for 34 days before committing to a subscription. 

When I downloaded the YNAB app for iPhone and tried it out myself, I found the following benefits and drawbacks: 

Pros:Cons:
Active Approach: YNAB makes you designate each dollar to a budget category before you spend a dime. This forward-thinking approach helps you take control of your finances. Price: While the first 34 days are free, YNAB costs $11.99 monthly or $84 annually afterward. Competing personal finance apps Mint and Personal Capital are free.
Personalization: YNAB provides a budget with suggested categories, but you can edit them, delete them, reorder them and add new categories that make sense for your life. You can also create categories for cash spending, savings goals and accidental overspending.Usability: The YNAB interface is a little overwhelming at first, and the system takes a while to learn. Still, there are helpful videos and articles on the website to help you get started. If this budgeting method works for you, it could be worth the time it takes to learn the system.
Easy Tracking: You can link your accounts to have your transactions automatically imported. You can also enter your transactions manually. Either way, the app makes it easy to keep track of how much you have available in each category.Limited Features: YNAB doesn’t have as many features as some of the competing free apps. There are no bill payment alerts, and you can’t track your investments. Instead, the app focuses solely on budgeting.

If you’re willing to pay for a budgeting app in order to take control of your finances, read our full review of YNAB.

PocketGuard

PocketGuard "In My Pocket" amount

Best budgeting app for avoiding overspending
Cost: Free
Average app rating: 4.3

PocketGuard is an excellent free budgeting app to try out if you struggle with overspending or meeting financial goals. 

Its goal is to get you spending less than you earn, so it clearly displays how much money you have available to spend once you’ve set aside enough for bills, savings goals and other budgeted categories. As you spend money, you’ll get alerts to keep you under budget. The app also provides monthly insights on how you’re spending which could help you find areas for improvement.

You can link your bank accounts and PocketGuard will automatically determine a basic, customizable budget for you. You can also manually enter cash transactions. 

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It’s free to download the PocketGuard app and to create an account. There’s an optional subscription available for premium features that costs $4.99/month, $34.99/year or $99.9/lifetime. Still, the free version of the app has everything you’ll need to start watching your spending. 

When I downloaded PocketGuard and tried it out myself, here were my favorite and least favorite features of the app. 

Pros:Cons:
Easy Tracking: You can link your accounts to have your transactions automatically imported. You can also edit transactions and create a cash account to enter transactions manually. The app makes it easy to keep track of how much you have available no matter how you spend.Limited Features: The free version of PocketGuard allows users to set one savings goal and two budget categories. Also, the free version tracks your spending only for the most recent three months.
Automatic Savings: With the free version of PocketGuard, you can set one savings goal in addition to your budget categories. You can also have your monthly savings contribution automatically deposited to a PocketGuard savings account that’s FDIC-insured. Otherwise, the app will track your savings contributions in your own bank account and deduct the total from your “In My Pocket” money each month.Discrepancies: The amount of money you’ll see listed as available likely won’t match the amount you have in your bank accounts. That’s because this total is based on your budget and estimated income/bills as opposed to your actual available amount. For this reason, your “In My Pocket” money may be negative when you have money in your account. Also, you’ll have to check to make sure transactions are correctly categorized.
Avoid Overspending: After you set up the app, you’ll easily be able to see how much money you have left to spend. You can also set up alerts for your budget categories to let you know when you’re getting close to overspending.Initial Setup: While the app is really simple to use once you have your income, bills and budget set up, getting to this point can take time and patience. Linking all of your accounts, recategorizing recent transactions and setting up an in-app budget that works for you can be tedious.

If you’re thinking about downloading PocketGuard, here are five things to know about the budgeting app.

Mvelopes

Adjusting your budget in Mvelopes

Best for a hands-on budgeting approach
Cost: $5.97/month or $69/year after a 30-day free trial. 
Average app rating: 3.8

Mvelopes is another great budgeting app worth checking out. It brings technology to the classic cash envelope budgeting method

Its goal is to help you manage your money better by helping you manage your spending. Mvelopes stands apart from competitors by encouraging users to manage money before and after they spend it. 

You can link your bank accounts to the app as well as manually enter your cash budget. Then, you can assign any available money to various “envelopes” assigned to categories such as bills or personal spending. As you make transactions, they’ll appear on the homepage of Mvelopes for you to assign to the appropriate envelope. Once you do, the remaining available amount is adjusted just like taking cash out of a physical envelope! 

You can also add your income, create and save budgets, track all of your spending and see all of your accounts and available money in one place. What’s great about Mvelopes is that it doesn’t automatically create budgets that need adjusting or automatically/incorrectly categorize your transactions. Instead, you determine where you want your money to go and which envelope it’s pulled from each time you spend.

When I downloaded Mvelopes myself to try it out, here are the biggest benefits and drawbacks that I found: 

Pros:Cons:
Easy Set Up. You don’t have to spend time categorizing old transactions; instead, you’ll focus on the money you have available and your upcoming income.Price. The app isn’t free to use, which is a major drawback. Still, you can try a 30-day trial of the Premier membership for free. If you like the app, you can purchase a basic membership for $6/month.
Hands-On Approach. You’re completely in charge of your budget and spending: There are no automatic calculations on the app’s part. You’ll have to assign money to an envelope when you receive it and subtract money from an envelope when you spend it.Planning. Mvelopes doesn’t keep track of upcoming bills nor does it remind you to set aside a certain amount of money for savings. You’ll need to remember to do these things yourself and have funded envelopes ready ahead of time.
Cash Tracking. You can track both cash and bank account balances with Mvelopes. Having all of your available funds together in one place allows you to see how much money you truly have available and where it’s actually going throughout the month.Reports. While there are some spending reports available on Mvelopes’ desktop version, the app doesn’t offer a great visual breakdown of your most recent spending. Mvelopes is more focused on current and future spending than past spending. If this is a feature you need to stay motivated, Mvelopes may not be the best option for you.

If Mvelopes sounds like a budgeting app that you would use, here are five things you should know before you begin your 30-day free trial. 

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Honeydue

Honeydue - account balances

Best for budgeting with a partner
Cost: Free
Average app rating: 4.3

Watching your spending and meeting financial goals can be a challenge for anyone but especially if you budget with a partner. Honeydue is a free budgeting app that makes it a little easier.

You and your partner can both download the app and connect to share financial information like account balances and transactions. What’s great about Honeydue is that it can help create transparency between you and your partner when it comes to finances. Still, you have total control over what your partner can and cannot see. 

You can link your bank accounts to the app to see recent transactions in the “Activity” tab where you and your partner can comment and react like a Facebook feed. You can also use the “Chat” tab to send messages to your partner. 

Within the app, you and your partner can both check current balances, set a spending limit on budget categories, get reminders about upcoming bills and more. 

When I downloaded Honeydue and tried it out with my partner, here are the biggest benefits and drawbacks that we found: 

Pros:Cons:
Designed for Partners. Honeydue is specifically designed for two people to use together. You can share balances and transactions, set goals together and chat about finances directly in the app.Accessibility. You can’t access your Honeydue account from a desktop browser: You have to download the app for iPhone or Android.
Price. Honeydue is completely free to download and use, plus it isn’t ad-supported. Instead, you can choose to send an optional “tip” up to $10 monthly if you enjoy the app. Set Up. Honeydue doesn’t automatically create a budget for you nor does it try to determine your income and bills based on recent transactions. Instead, you’ll have to sit down with your partner to set up your budget and create a plan you can stick to.
Bill Reminders. You can set up bill reminders in the app for you, your partner or both up to a week before a bill is due. You can also use the “Bills” tab to see upcoming payments on the calendar.Planning. While the app offers an intuitive budget section, there isn’t a clear way to set up a savings goal, and Honeydue doesn’t prompt you to assign your money before it’s spent. While it makes communication easy, you will have to plan out your monthly budget ahead of time for the best results.

If you think Honeydue sounds like a good fit for you and your partner, check out our full review of the free budgeting app.

Final Thoughts

No matter how you decide to budget your money, keeping track of your spending and expenses is a crucial step toward financial success. 

After researching each of these apps and trying them out myself, I found that Mint is one of the best free budgeting apps for simple expense tracking. But if you’re more focused on watching your investments or planning for retirement, Personal Capital will likely be a better budgeting app for you. 

If you’re budgeting on your own and need an app to automatically set up a budget for you, check out PocketGuard. But if you’re budgeting with a partner, I recommend trying out Honeydue together. 

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Finally, if you’re willing to pay for a personal finance tool that will help you get your spending under control, YNAB and Mvelopes are both great budgeting apps worth checking out. 

If you still aren’t sure which one is best for you, here’s a quick rundown of the features available with each budgeting app: 

Table

 Mint.comPersonal CapitalYNABPocketGuardMvelopesHoneydue
Best forTracking expensesInvestmentsBudgetingAvoiding overspendingHands-on budgetingBudgeting with a Partner
Free to useYesYesNoYesNoYes
Ad-supportedYesYesNoYesNoNo
Track spendingYesYesYesYesYesYes
Monthly budget plannerYesYesYesYesYesYes
Bill payment alertsYesYesNoYesNoYes
Free credit scoreYesNoNoNoNoNo
Retirement plannerNoYesNoNoNoNo
Investment trackingYesYesNoNoNoNo

Do you use a budgeting app to manage your money? Tell us which one in the comments below!

More Ways to Manage Your Money From Clark.com 



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