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Top Budgeting Apps Thumbnail

Top Budgeting Apps

In a previous post, I outlined how to create your household's budget. In this post, I will provide a brief overview of three apps that can make creating and maintaining your budget far easier, less time-consuming, and maybe even a little fun.

As a finance nerd, I've been maintaining my own budget and personal finances in excel since entering the "real-world" in 2010. Over the years, I've experimented numerous financial apps, but have generally been disappointed by the lack of customization or the rigidity of how transactions are categorized. As a result, I've generally fallen back on exporting transactions from my credit card and bank accounts a couple times each year to manually categorize my spending.

Fortunately, technology has advanced and there are a number of budgeting apps to make this critical financial planning process more efficient, valuable, and actionable. And I am thrilled to share that I am out of the budgeting dark ages of excel downloads and exclusively use one of these apps (Monarch Money) to track household spending.

Here is an outline of three budgeting apps to explore to better manage your household finances:


Cost: Free, Premium is $4.99/month

Considered to be one of the oldest, most well-established apps in the personal budget software game, Mint is a free budgeting app offered by Intuit, the makers of TurboTax and Quickbooks. This app offers almost everything any family would need to start budgeting and staying organized with their day-to-day finances. You can use it to create a budget, track your expenses, alert you when a bill is due, monitor your investments and more. As far as budgeting, this app can automatically categorize a transaction you’ve made to help give you important oversight into your spending habits and understand where you may be able to save.

Mint features include:

  • Web-based automatic updates and categorization based on transactions
  • Investment monitoring
  • Credit checks
  • Automatic alerts for going over budget
  • Dashboard to view overall cash flow or breakdown by category
  • Ability to set goals and create budget subcategories
  • IOS, Android and desktop compatibility

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

Cost: About $15/month or $99/year

You Need a Budget, or YNAB, takes an alternative approach to thinking about money. YNAB uses an “every dollar has a job” method, meaning every single dollar in you earn is designated for a purpose - saving, paying off debt, investing, etc. The theory is, by accounting for every single dollar, you’re forced to spend wisely and rethink how your money is being used.

YNAB features include:

  • 34-day free trial
  • Bank syncing to connect all accounts into one place
  • Comprehensive progress reports and real-time updates
  • Goal-setting and tracking
  • Support and personal education from a team of experts
  • IOS, Android and desktop compatibility

Monarch Money

Cost: $9.99/month, or $89.99/year

A relative newcomer when compared to Mint and YNAB, Monarch Money offers a holistic approach to managing your finances with plenty of customization options and frequent enhancements.  In addition to highly customizable budgeting, you can also link all of your financial accounts (bank, credit cards, investments, debt, and more) to monitor your entire Net Worth. You and your partner can collaborate on your finances for the cost of one subscription, and you can even add access for your financial advisor. Check out these links for how Monarch compares to Mint & YNAB.

Monarch Money features include:

  • 7-day free trial
  • Fully customizable budget to categorize transactions the way you do
  • Collaborate with your partner
  • Plan for big, non-recurring expenses as well as monthly line items
  • Track your entire Net Worth (bank accounts, credit cards, investments, debt, etc.)
  • Customizable Dashboard to view your entire financial picture
  • Goal-setting and tracking
  • Automatic alerts for going over budget
  • IOS, Android and desktop compatibility

Maintaining a budget is a critical piece of your personal finances. Fortunately, with today’s tools, budgeting has become a less arduous task thanks to automatic transaction updates, account syncing, and more. If, like me, you have taken it upon yourself to keep track of your spending for years or decades, I'd encourage you to try one of these tools.

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