You don’t need software to budget or invest, but it can sure help. We’ve tried, tested, and considered all sorts of apps for budgeting and personal finance. We want to provide you with our recommendations for the best in class options for all types of needs.

Best free budget apps

Mint

Mint is really by itself when it comes to automating finances. It has alerts and spending limits that make it effective at a limited sort of budgeting. It has portfolio and net worth tracking that make it a fair tool for goals and long-term perspective.

Downsides

  • Ads for financial products from third parties
  • Weak long term planning tools
  • Easy to do nothing
  • No options for envelope or zero-based budgeting

Personal Capital

Personal Capital is best for accomplished savers looking at retirement and long term financial planning. The tools for projection and reporting are powerful. There’s a lot to like for portfolio management, including the free price tag.

Downsides

  • Ads for investing services
  • Limited to no budgeting support

Best for getting out of debt

YNAB

A great choice for new folks in budgeting. The documentation, resources, and support are top notch. There’s a high reward available for those who are comfortable with YNAB and engaged with this budget style.

Downsides

  • $84/year.
  • High maintenance.

Best for budgeting with a partner

Keepify

If you’re running a household budget and tracking spends with a partner, or if you’re single and want some accountability Keepify shines. It’s got the features to make budgeting an easier task.

It’ll handle envelope system or alerts and automation styles. It’s a newcomer to the fray, but there’s an option now for free onboarding with a real person.

Downsides

  • Lacks long term planning tools
  • Weak documentation
  • Still newer

Upcoming reviews

We’re going to do in-depth reviews each month throughout 2020. Check back to see more!

Clarity Money

Acorns

GoodBudget

Best for tracking complex finances

Quicken

It has the most features for double entry, invoicing, and complex tax issues.

Best for investing help

Personal Capital

Budget app FAQ

  • Is it worth paying for budgeting software?

    If your goal is to save more via budgeting than you spend on the software, to get out of debt, to save time spent budgeting another way, to coordinate better with a partner, or to learn a better way to budget then we believe it can often be worth spending money to use software to budget.

    That said, when I first considered cycling to work I didn’t buy a nice bike. I used the old cheap mountain bike I had in the garage from before college. It made the trip enough times (and had enough mechanical issues) to prove I was serious about doing it. I think that’s a great approach. We’re here to help if you have questions about budget whether you’re using free Google Sheets budget templates or our specialized software designed for shared budgets.
  • How much should I spend on housing?

    The general rule of thumb is that you should feel OK to allocate 25-30% of your budget for housing. That said, this choice represents such a big chunk of the budget that it also dominates the conversation around places in the budget you can save money. Many lenders will offer worse terms or no loan at all as your housing payments approach 35% of your total budget.

    There are more thoughtful approaches to this question that take more variables into account as well.
  • How do I calculate a budget?

    There are online tools to get started with that in one place. We have a post that can help you get started as well as templates. If you want to try the Keepify app, we’ll even help you get your first budget setup and humming personally.
  • What is a 50/30/20 budget?

    A simple way to split your money between savings, needs, and wants.

    See our post that explains it.
  • What’s the best free tool?

    The best free budgeting tool still depends a bit on your goals. It might be Mint or it might be paper and pencil or it might be Google Sheets budget templates.

    It really depends on your goals and how much effort you’re willing to put towards managing your money. Getting started somehow is the best choice of all.

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