What is the best budget app in 2021?

Panna Kemenes
04.28.21
5 minute read

Budgeting apps are great when you need help managing and controlling your finances.

Tracking your spending and expenses manually can be difficult. Budgeting apps help automate this process and present easy-to-follow analysis of your spending habits.

There are many budgeting apps on the market – some free and some paid. Each app has different features and approaches to money management. The best one for you will be the one that suits your needs.

Read on to take a look at some leading budgeting apps and who they are best for. And as a bonus if you need to manage money in different currencies, we cover the Wise app, which has some great features for just that.

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📝 Table of contents

What are the best budgeting apps?

Each budgeting app is different. Most, but not all, will connect to bank and credit card accounts to pull in and categorize spending.

How budgets are set and managed varies though. Here are some of the top apps – and some guidance on who will find them most useful:

AppPriceBest For
MintFree¹Individuals wanting a flexible system for setting budgets and alerts with access to credit scores.
YNAB$84 per year²Those taking a more serious budgeting approach, or with existing debt.
GoodbudgetFree limited use up to 10 ‘envelopes’ / $60 per year for unlimited³For those who prefer ‘envelope budgeting’ and don’t want to link to live accounts.
HoneydueFree⁴Couples wanting to share bank details and budgeting.
Personal CapitalFree⁵Wealth tracking and investments.
PocketGuardFree ($34.99 per year for PocketGuard Plus)⁶A simpler overview of spending and budgets. Good for those who overspend.
MvelopesFrom $60 per year⁷Linking envelope budgeting to bank and credit card accounts.
🖥 If you feel like a software option may be a better choice for you, then you can also check the top 10 personal finance software options.

Mint

Mint is a leading app from Intuit. It is a well-established app with a good range of features.

The Mint app has strong budgeting tools with customizable categories. There are alerts if you go over these budgets or incur high fees.

Mint also adds credit monitoring services - which you won’t find in many other apps.

It can link to a long list of banks, credit card providers, and lenders - which is useful if you have an account with a smaller institution.

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

YNAB is a popular and feature-packed budgeting app. It takes a unique approach to budgeting.

This is zero-based budgeting, where you make a financial plan based on all of your income. Each dollar you have coming in is assigned a role – which can work well for some people.

The app offers a wide range of bank and credit card connections.

Goodbudget

Goodbudget works on the ‘envelope’ budgeting system (it used to be called Easy Envelope Budget Aid).

You add funds to separate category envelopes. This has to be done manually based on your incomes as Goodbudget does not link to bank accounts or credit cards.

It can be shared between multiple users (or couples) using Android or iPhone apps.

Honeydue

Honeydue is designed for couples wanting to share budgets. Two people can share bank account details and plan budgets together.

There is also a messaging functionality and reminders about upcoming bills and payments.

Honeydue follows a more traditional approach than Goodbudget (which also allows couples to share details). You can also connect to bank accounts and credit cards. It offers both Android and iPhone apps.

Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a free app that connects with banks and credit card accounts, as well as IRAs, mortgages, and 401(k)s.

This budgeting app includes basic budget setting but focuses more on providing an overview of your total wealth and transactions by category.

PocketGuard

PocketGuard is a simpler budgeting app that connects to accounts and presents spending by categories (although you can customize these).

It has a useful feature where an algorithm suggests savings that you can make. As such, it is particularly useful for people who already overspend in certain areas.

The paid-for version allows you to edit transactions, export data, and define categories.

Mvelopes

Mvelopes is another app that focuses on the ‘envelope budgeting’ methodology. It connects to accounts, so the remaining budget per envelope can be monitored in real-time.

It is a paid app and includes good live chat support and finance training.


Love saving money? Try Wise

Wise offers a multi-currency account with a free app that enables you to receive and transfer money abroad.

This is a great option for anyone holding funds or paying bills in different currencies.

The app can also help with budgeting and savings goals. You can make use of the ‘Jars’ feature to put aside money you want to save up, which can help maximize your savings. You can also set categories for your spending to see where you may need to budget more.

Wise app


What is the best free budgeting app?

There are several great free and low-cost budgeting apps. As described above, these all have different features and ways of managing budgets and spending.

The best comes down to a personal choice of features needed and presentation style.

While they all have the same aim of helping manage budgets, they approach this in different ways. Some will collate expenses, categorize them and report on budget breaches.

Others take an ‘envelope’ approach and assign income to different areas. And one app (YNAB) takes a very different approach of assigning all available income to a role.

As many of the apps are free, it is easy to trial a few of them. You may find a different approach to budgeting works best for you once you try it.

Another factor to keep in mind is the access you want to bank, credit card, or other types of account. If you only have one or two accounts with major providers, then most apps will be suitable.

If you require access to a specific institution, this could affect which app you choose. Alternatively, if you prefer a non-connected approach of manually loading your finances, some apps focus on this.

If you have a business, it could also be worth checking out some top financial tools to save you time and money.

What is a budgeting app for?

Why use a budgeting app at all? Tracking expenses and spending may seem like a straightforward task. But without some discipline, it's easy to lose track and overspend.

At their most simple, budgeting apps will show total income and spending, split between categories. Most will allow customization of these categories and some form of budgeting and limit setting. Many add more features on top of this.

Budgeting apps can help you see where you are spending more, both as one-off transactions and trends over time. This helps you understand spending patterns and habits and ultimately, save money.

Many apps can also provide alerts to help you manage finances. This can include alerts when you reach or exceed certain budgets, as well as reminders about upcoming bills, payments, or transfers.

Save money on international transfers with Wise

The Wise app is a great choice if you need to manage money in different currencies.

It allows you to receive, transfer and manage funds in up to 56 currencies. When you need to transfer in or out, you will benefit from the real exchange rate, with no hidden fees.

What’s more, you can set categories for your spending, such as bills or groceries, to easily keep track of your expenses - whatever currency you spend in.

Join Wise for free! 🎉

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Sources:

  1. Mint
  2. YNAB
  3. Goodbudget
  4. Honeydue
  5. Personal Capital
  6. PocketGuard
  7. Mvelopes
  8. Wise

All sources checked 28 April 2021.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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