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The Best Budgeting Apps for 2024

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updated: July 14, 2024

Managing your money is critical for your financial well-being. But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to budgeting, so you need to find a method that works for you. The following budgeting apps can help you do exactly that.

8 best budgeting software apps

Best for: cutting costs
Rocket Money

Rocket Money

Best for: cutting costs

Rocket Money

Monthly fee
Free; Premium membership is optional and ranges between $6 and $12 monthly
About:
Rocket Money started out as a subscription-management tool, giving you the chance to see which expenses are recurring and potentially, not worth paying for anymore.

Features: Build a budget through individual expense categorization and create savings goals individually or with a partner

Usability: Connects to banking accounts and helps you cut unwanted subscriptions

Mobile app: iOS and Android

Links to accounts: Yes

If you need help ditching unwanted or unused subscriptions or negotiating your bills, Rocket Money can help. It handles negotiating bills and old subscriptions on your behalf, saving you money in the long run.

Pros:

  • Get help dropping unused or unwanted subscriptions that are eating into your budget.
  • View credit score for free, as Mint used to offer.
  • Simple user experience for easy learning.

Cons:

  • Subscription management and other premium features come at an extra cost.
  • Doesn’t manage debt-related money goals.
Best for: tailored budgeting
Simplifi

Simplifi by Quicken

Best for: tailored budgeting

Simplifi by Quicken

Monthly fee
$2
About:

Many budgeting apps have a method that you’ll need to adopt when you sign up. But Simplifi lets you budget the way that’s best for you, whether that’s 50/30/20, zero-based budgeting, the envelope method, or whatever else you choose.

Features: Tracks expenses to build a personalized budget using your preferred method, including zero-based, envelope, 50/30/20, and more

Usability: Imports banking transactions and adds flexibility with categorization

Mobile app: iOS and Android

Links to accounts: Yes

You can get in-depth budgeting help, investment tracking, and even retirement-planning assistance. You can also track your net worth.

Pros:

  • Flexibility in choosing budgeting methods and preferences.
  • Credit-score monitoring.
  • No ads, since you pay a monthly fee for premium features.

Cons:

  • No free option and no monthly bill but rather, billed annually.
  • Some mobile-app users report difficulty importing data and debt management.
Best for: mimicking Mint
Empower

Empower

Best for: mimicking Mint

Empower

Monthly fee
Free
About:

If you want a budgeting app that is like Mint at the same price, you may want to get Empower. Like Mint, Empower is free to use for everything except investment management services.

Features: Net worth tracking, budgeting, and automatic categorization; you can add investment management services for an additional cost

Usability: Connects your savings, checking, investments, and retirement accounts

Mobile app: iOS and Android

Links to accounts: Yes

It’s as close to Mint as you’re going to get for free budgeting and expense tracking, although the format is a little different (which is to be expected). It also lets you connect investment portfolios so you can see your entire net worth in one place rather than checking out many different accounts for the big-picture figures.

Pros:

  • Create many different spending goals within specific categories.
  • Change and modify categories based on your usage and needs.
  • Most tools in the app are free as Mint was, including retirement tracking, investment monitoring, and savings goals.

Cons:

  • Investment management services charge a fee.
  • No credit-score monitoring.
Best for: entrepreneurs
Quicken

Quicken

Best for: entrepreneurs

Quicken

Monthly fee
$5.99 or $4.97 or $6.57
About:
Quicken is one of the original online budgeting platforms that launched in the ‘80s and is kind of like Mint’s dad. Quicken walked so Mint could run. But today, Quicken is available everywhere you need it to be and might be the best fit for self-employed folks and entrepreneurs who need help at the corner of business and personal.

Features: Simple interface to track spending and create a budget based on expenses

Usability: Connect accounts and manually add transactions

Mobile app: iOS and Android

Links to accounts: Yes

You can get in-depth budgeting help, investment tracking, and even retirement-planning assistance. You can also track your net worth.

Pros:

  • Manage and pay bills through Quicken, either on the app or online.
  • Set up and fine-tune retirement savings goals and other long-term financial plans.
  • Offers home and business features.

Cons:

  • No credit-score monitoring or tracking.
  • Most features come at a monthly cost and there’s no free option.
Best for: teamwork
Monarch Money

Monarch Money

Best for: teamwork

Monarch Money

Monthly fee
$14.99 (or $99 a year)
About:
Monarch Money, like YNAB, uses the zero-based budgeting method where every dollar has a job. Categorize different spending transactions into different budgets so you can see where your money goes at a glance—all while inviting a friend or partner to budget with you. This could be your spouse or financial advisor.
**Features**: Create a budget with or without a partner (you can even invite your financial advisor); also tracks your investments

Usability: Uses AI to connect and monitor transactions

Mobile app: iOS and Android

Links to accounts: Yes

A lot of budgeting apps are for individual use, but Monarch Money lets you navigate with another person. It not only gives you an accountability partner but, if you team up with your significant other, it also helps you both keep track of money coming in and going out.

Pros:

  • In-depth reporting, transaction history, and goal-setting opportunities. 
  • Easy for couples and families to see and manage household budgeting.
  • No ads, since you’re paying for the service.

Cons:

  • One of the most expensive budgeting options on the market.
  • No free credit-score access.
Best for: bank-budgeting hybrid
Albert

Albert

Best for: bank-budgeting hybrid

Albert

Monthly fee
$9.99 to $14.99
About:
Albert wants to be the only place you bank, invest, and keep your money. It offers cash accounts, overdraft protection, investing and savings accounts, alongside budgeting features. You don’t have to use all of these features, but it keeps all your money in one place and cuts down on the need for creating new logins for many different financial needs.

Features: Budgeting, investing, insurance offerings, bill negotiations, savings, cash advances, banking

Usability: Syncs with bank accounts and allows modifications and adjustments

Mobile app: iOS and Android

Links to accounts: Yes

It’s a one-stop-shop for banking, investing, budgeting, and saving for basic users who want to keep their money in one place.

Pros:

  • Budgeting tools are easily customizable.
  • Automates savings and expenditure tracking.
  • Cash, savings, investment account options are available.

Cons:

  • Has no free option, with plans starting at $9.99 a months.
  • Provides no human customer services.
  • Offers no retirement investment options.
Best for: adding BNPL
Cushion

Cushion AI

Best for: adding BNPL

Cushion AI

Monthly fee
$4.95 to $12.99
About:
Cushion started out as a bill-trimming service and has branched out to include other services, including budgeting and expense tracking. One of its most standout features is that you can add your buy now, pay later services payments to the app. Rather than keep track of each one within its own app, you can use Cushion to monitor all your BNPL payments. It’s also a nice option to build credit with bills that wouldn’t normally get reported to the main credit bureaus.

Features: Budgeting, investing, insurance offerings, bill negotiations, savings, cash advances, banking

Usability: Syncs with bank accounts and allows modifications and adjustments

Mobile app: iOS and Android

Links to accounts: Yes

The basic budgeting features and expense tracking are free for folks who want a no-frills budgeting app. But it’s a great option for those who have other types of spending they want to keep track of.

Pros:

  • Free basic budgeting options are available, including account syncing.
  • Tracks your bills, including your BNPL bills.
  • Credit-building options start at $5 a month.

Cons:

  • Reports only to Experian for credit reporting.
  • No longer offers bill negotiation and fee-lowering services.
Best for: die-hard budget trackers
YNAB

YNAB

Best for: die-hard budget trackers

YNAB

Monthly fee
$14.99 (or $99 a year)
About:

At a hefty cost at nearly $100 a year, YNAB (formerly You Need a Budget) is one of the most expensive budgeting apps on the market today. But die-hard fans are also the most loyal to YNAB. There’s a bit of a learning curve and YNAB is exceptionally specific. But there’s a free 34-day trial to help you get acclimated and see if it’s right for you.

Features: Follows zero-based budgeting, very specific in detailing where your money goes

Usability: Connects major accounts to track every dollar

Mobile app: iOS and Android

Links to accounts: Yes

The easy user experience and free trial period are what make it worth a shot. What’s more, since you have to pay for it, YNAB doesn’t sell your information to third-party marketers and you won’t see ads on the app or website.

Pros:

  • Deeply specific reporting and gives users the chance to make goals and save for the future.
  • Helps users shift their mindsets to giving every dollar a job.
  • User-friendly app and interface makes it easier to set up and manage your account compared to other budgeting apps.

Cons:

  • Might seem overwhelming and time-consuming when first starting out.
  • Expensive app to manage money.
  • Some users may have a hard time adapting to the zero-based budgeting model if you’ve never done it before.

Best budgeting apps compared

Budgeting AppMonthly fee
Free; Premium membership is optional and ranges between $6 and $12 monthly
$2
Free
$5.99 or $4.97 or $6.57
$14.99 (or $99 a year)
$9.99 to $14.99
$4.95 to $12.99
$14.99 (or $99 a year)

Methodology

We evaluated dozens of budgeting apps based on cost, usability, user experience, and user reviews. These are some of the best apps on the market.

How to choose a budgeting app

Because there are so many ways to budget, it’s important to find an app that works with your preferred budgeting method. Here are some things to consider when choosing a budgeting app.

Figure out your preferences

There are a number of different budgeting styles, including the 50/30/20 rule, zero-based budgeting, pay yourself first, and the envelope method. Many budgeting apps and software programs use some form of these.

Remember that it’s okay to change apps even after years with the same one. You aren’t the same person you were five, 10, or 20 years ago, so why should your money management style stay the same?

2. Make it both detailed and general

A good budgeting app allows you to get both a general and detailed view of your finances. You should be able to see how much money you have coming in and what’s expected to go out every week or month, to gauge whether you’re on the right track. At the same time, you also need to examine different budgeting categories and individual transactions, so you can see precisely where you’re spending your money.

3. Flexibility matters

While not everyone is a fan of automatically syncing accounts to your budgeting app, it makes building a budget much easier when you can see everything in one place. The more account options you can add, the better your chances of knowing where your money goes.

You should be able to easily add accounts and set up budgets. Depending on your app, you may have to tweak and change as necessary. For instance, if you get a new car, you’ll want to update your car payment budget. If you get a raise, you’ll want to increase your income as a line item in your budget. Find an app that lets you update as needed.

Alternatives to budgeting apps

Not everyone wants to use an app to manage their money. This includes people who worry about being hacked. While most budgeting apps are secure and use many different ways to protect your personal and financial information, there is always the potential for fraud, and that can be a deal-breaker for some people.

If a budgeting app isn’t right for you, here are some other options for managing your money.

Pen and paper

Sometimes you just need to write it all out. This can be time-consuming, but some people may like the simplicity of using a pen and paper to budget.

Start by listing all your money coming in. Then total your fixed expenses, such as utilities, rent, or mortgage. Add in your car payment, insurance, and any loans. Don’t forget your minimum credit card amounts and necessities, such as food, medicine, and clothing. If you have any subscriptions, such as streaming services, newspapers, or websites, make sure to add those as well. Be sure to include any regular contributions to retirement and savings accounts.

Write out any purchase or payment you make. Track your money for a few months to see where it goes, then adjust your budget as necessary. You can use your budget to create or update your financial goals, whether it’s to save for a big purchase or vacation, pay off debt, or sock away money for retirement.

Spreadsheet

Create a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs, then lay it out with the pen-and-paper method. Track all the money coming in and going out. Some folks create new spreadsheet pages for each month, while others update the same page as needed. How you use it is up to you.

There are plenty of free and low-cost templates online for you to utilize. Tinker and change as needed.

More on budgeting

Why is budgeting important?

Budgeting makes you more financially aware by helping you better understand where your money is going. When you stick to a regular budget, you can see your income and expenses and keep track of your spending. Budgeting can also help you stay on track with your financial goals, make it easier to reduce your debt, and help you prepare for financial emergencies.

4 tips to budget effectively

Pick a budgeting method you can stick to

There are different approaches to budgeting, but some require more work than others. For example, a zero-based budget asks you to create a job for every dollar, so things can change every budgeting cycle. If you prefer a simpler approach, you might want to consider a 50/30/20 budget, which is more straightforward.

If you’re spending too much, cut up your credit cards

Credit cards can be a powerful financial tool when used responsibly. But if you’re struggling to manage your credit card debt, extreme measures may be required. One option is to take your credit card out of your wallet, so you won’t be tempted to spend. Some people have been known to cut up their credit cards.

Don’t be completely hands-off

Some budgeting apps make it too easy. Even if you’ve automated most of your budgeting, it’s a good idea to review the results regularly. Staying involved with your budget will increase your chances of success. Whether you use an app or do it the old-fashioned way, zero-based budgets are great for staying on top of every dollar.

Try using a budgeting app

If you have trouble sticking to an old-fashioned pen-and-paper budget, consider using a budgeting app like the ones covered in this article. The right app can save you time, and take the work out of budgeting, making it easier to stay on track. Several top budgeting apps are free to use, and many come with additional features, such as goal setting, bill negotiation, and joint budgeting, to help you reach your financial goals.

Pros and cons of budgeting apps

Pros:

  • Most apps save time and are easy to use
  • Account syncing allows you to see everything in one place
  • Built-in tools can help you reach your financial goals

Cons:

  • Sometimes you learn more by doing things manually
  • You need to find an app that follows your preferred budgeting method
  • It’s easy to get overwhelmed by features you don’t use

TIME Stamped: Budgeting is crucial to your financial well-being

Creating a budget is vital to your financial health, and budgeting apps can make it easier to stay on track. However, there’s no one budgeting method to rule them all, and apps aren’t right for everyone. Try to figure out what will work for you, and if it fails, try again. The most important thing is to get started, whether for the first or fifth time. Being ignorant of your monetary situation can only lead to disaster. Remember, knowledge is power.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the 50/30/20 budget rule?

The 50/30/20 budget rule assigns 50% of income to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings.

What are the best free budgeting apps?

Our list includes free budgeting apps Empower, Rocket Money, EveryDollar, and Goodbudget. The first two are arguably better because they allow for connectivity to bank accounts.

What’s the best budgeting app that doesn’t link to a bank account?

Goodbudget and EveryDollar are the only two apps on our list that don’t link to bank accounts, though the latter has a premium version that does if you pay for it. The former uses the envelope budgeting method, while the latter employs zero-based budgeting. Which is best depends on what you want.

Is Rocket Money or Mint better?

It doesn’t matter which is better because Mint closed at the end of 2023, so it’s no longer available. Rocket Money is certainly a plausible alternative, as are some other apps.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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