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The Best Budgeting Tools for Phones

Budgeting and money management is not-very-thrilling necessity. Fortunately, thanks to these awesome apps, it’s easier than ever to get a grip on your finances and stay on top of things.

Since smartphones are such a prolific tool in the way we do things now—everything from keeping in touch with loved ones to scheduling our lives is handled on our little pocket computers—they’re also one of the best tools for managing money.

While there isn’t really a one size fits all approach to finance management, as everyone has different needs, there are quite a few excellent budgeting apps out there that cover a lot of bases. We’ve rounded up our top picks with an emphasis on apps that are easy to use, offer cross-device support, and a plethora of useful tools.

The Best Overall: Mint (Free, iOS/Android)

Mint has long been the gold standard when it comes to finance management tools on your smartphone, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. It’s easy to use, chock-full of useful features, and looks great doing it. It’s a win-win-win.

Mint allows you to keep track of all your finances in one place, watching your spending habits, build budgets, keep up with bills, and monitor your credit, all in one place. That’s a lot of functionality for a single app. The true killer feature of Mint, through and through, is that it syncs with your accounts so all this monitoring and analysis happens automagically in the background. Mint was the first major finance app to do this, and it still does it incredible well.

It’s also free and cross platform, making it not only the best option to try, but also completely risk free. If you don’t like it for some reason, just ditch it.

Download on the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

The Simplest Option: PocketGuard (Free, iOS/Android)

If you’re into the idea of managing your money with an app but feeling overwhelmed, check out PocketGuard. It offers an easy way to manage all your money, with an incredibly simple and intuitive interface.

With PocketGuard, you can keep an eye on your bank account(s), credit cards, loans, savings, and more, then use all of this collective data to track income and expenses. One of the nicest features of PocketGuard is the “In My Pocket” screen, which essentially tells you how much spending money you have at a glace. This is a great way to set budgets and keep yourself from overspending.

PocketGuard will also remind you when credit card bills and loan payments are due, which should help prevent late fees—it will also let you know should an unwanted (or unwarranted) charge hit your account.

And like Mint, PocketGuard is free for both iOS and Android. So give it a go, see what you think. It can’t hurt!

Download on the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

The Most In-Depth Option: YNAB ($83.99/year, iOS/Android)

If a comprehensive solution is what you’re after, YNAB—You Need A Budget—is the answer. But, for real, YNAB is a (sometimes painful) budget boot camp.

YNAB is easily the most in-depth but still intuitive budgeting apps out there, allowing you to really take control of your financial situation. It offers bank syncing and report tools to help stay ahead of your money situation—but arguably best of all, it allows for account sharing so you all of this information is available to you and your spouse. That’s a massive perk for couples looking for a join management tool.

But YNAB is about more than just keeping an eye on your money, it’s a tool to help you get head of your credit cards and loans to pay them off, get out of debt, and stay out of debt. It’s an incredibly powerful tool.

Honestly, there’s so much in YNAB it’s more than can be really covered in just a few paragraphs, making it something you should check out for yourself. YNAB offers a free trial for 34 days for you to see if it’s a good fit in your life, but after that it’ll set you back $83.99 a year to keep it going. YNAB claims most users are able to see $600 in cost cutting and savings in the first two months and $6,000 in the first year of use, making that $84 seem like a pretty solid deal.

Finally, not only is YNAB a rock solid budget platform, but it’s a whole financial philosophy focused on helping you give every dollar in your budget a clear job and building up a surplus of money to cut down on both psychological and financial stress. When you sign up for YNAB you not only get the excellent YNAB software platform but all the educational documents and videos that go along with it to help you on your journey.

Download on the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play


The Best Free Option for Couples: Goodbudget (Free/$6 monthly, iOS/Android)

While YNAB is easily the most comprehensive tools that also allows for shared accounts, it’s also a paid subscription. If you want to track finances across a couple of devices without spending anything upfront, Goodbudget is the best option.

Goodbudget is an easy to use expense tracker that uses what the company calls the “envelope method” to keep your finances in check—this is just a simple way to think of different budgets for different things. You can track each “envelope” and account, as well as schedule transactions, split expenses, and generate reports to get a better overall look at your incoming and outgoing funds.

The free Goodbudget account will allow for the most basic uses (which may be enough for many people!), there’s also a paid option that removes most of the limitations you may run into with the free option—the biggest limitation of the free account is that you only get 10 “envelopes” where as the Plus account offers unlimited envelopes. It’ll set you back $6 a month or $50 yearly, but that may be worth it if you find value in the service.

Download on the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

The Best Bank-Built Option: Simple (Free)

If you want an all-inclusive option, Simple is hands-down the way to go. Of course, there’s a catch to a super simple all inclusive option: you have to change your bank to Simple. But having your budgeting tools built directly into your bank’s website and mobile apps is absolutely incredible. Seriously, it’s gaming changing.

Simple uses what it calls “Goals” to allow for money management. You basically move money from your Safe-to-Spend budget into dedicated goals to set that budget. Then, as you spend money, you can spend it from the specific goals where it applies.

You can manually put money into goals as you need to, but you can also set a specific timeframe in order to save a certain amount of money, and Simple will handle the rest by pulling money on the daily and placing it into that goal. This is a great way to save large sums over a longer period of time.

Finally, there’s a Protected Goal—think of it like a savings account inside of your checking account. Once you move money into your Protected Goal, it doesn’t show up anywhere else in your account—not even in your total balance. You can also set your Protected Goal to save a certain amount over a give time period, which can be paused at any time should something come up and funds need to be relocated.

There’s a lot more to Simple than just its budgeting tools, however, and if you’re weighing whether or not it’s worth switching your bank you should definitely check out the Simple web site.

Download on the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Image Credit: Monster Ztudio/Shutterstock

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is Review Geek's former Editor in Cheif and first started writing for LifeSavvy Media in 2016. Cam's been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times. In 2021, Cam stepped away from Review Geek to join Esper as a managing Editor. Read Full Bio »