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Published on November 5, 2020

8 Best Finance Apps For Effective Budget Tracking And Planning

8 Best Finance Apps For Effective Budget Tracking And Planning

Looking for ways to effectively track, plan, and manage your budgeting? Well, there is a multitude of apps for that! Finance apps are the best options around for tracking and planning your budget and keeping you accountable. After all, using a pen and paper can make it cumbersome to track.

The apps that we’ve listed below do a ton of the heavy lifting for you and provide a wide array of functions to help you with your financial needs.

How to Pick a Suitable Finance App

When looking at some of the best finance apps that are ideal for budgeting, we found these particular features to be important. Keep these in mind when looking for ideal finance apps.

  • User interface – Navigation is key in any circumstances of an app. This is especially true for helpful apps like finance apps. You want to be using them regularly. As such, the interface should be simple to navigate.
  • Habit building – Finance tracking is all about building money habits, and apps have unique ways of building those habits. There is the app itself but features like push notifications are also essential in some circumstances.
  • Syncing – You should be able to connect your bank account to these finance apps, and that process should also be pretty easy to do, too.
  • Usefulness – The number of features that the app has should be relevant and make it something you want to check. Sure, some of these finance apps work in the background, but those on this list help significantly when you check them regularly.
  • Data presentation – The number of reports and analytical data is a core focus for these finance apps as well since it allows you to make sound financial decisions.

1. Best Finance App Overall – Mint

    If you’re looking for an overall quality finance app, Mint is the first that comes to mind. It’s one of the most well-known personal finance apps around and for good reason. It provides you with a complete financial picture all in one place.

    By connecting your debit and credit cards to your account, Mint will provide you with a list of transactions and break them into categories, showing you exactly where you are spending your money. You can also track billing and create a budget on the app to help you stay on track of your savings goals.

    A new feature that Mint rolled out recently is the ability to see your credit score. Through this feature, you can also see the factors that are contributing to your credit score. Beyond that, you can also track investments and schedule routine utility payments.

    Download Mint here.

    2. Best Finance App for Debt Management – YNAB

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      You Need A Budget (YNAB) is an app that is built on four rules:

      1. Give every dollar a job.
      2. Embrace true expenses.
      3. Roll with the punches.
      4. Age your money.

      Based on these four rules, the app will help you build a better budget while also allowing you to gain control of your spending. You can import transactions from your checking account and apply them to each budget category to get an accurate look at your spending.

      This app also provides detailed reports to show you your spending habits while you are striving to keep a balanced budget in the various categories. YNAB will also point out other spots that you can improve your spending.

      According to YNAB, the average user will save about $600 in the first two months and can save over $6,000 in the first year. It sounds promising for a debt management app.

      Download You Need A Budget here.

      3. Best Wealth Management App – Personal Capital

        Another solid choice is Personal Capital. It focuses on wealth management but also serves as another personal finance app. Through this app, you can manage assets and investments along with setting up a budget for everyday spending accounts.

        This service integrates with over 14,000 financial institutions, allowing you to link your bank account(s) directly to the app and through it. By linking your bank account to the app, you can track your spending, too.

        That said, the app really shines when you connect it to your investing accounts. By doing so, you have a convenient spot to track your portfolio by account, asset class, or individual security. The app can also show you opportunities to diversify, manage risk, and find any hidden fees that you could be paying.

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        You can also compare your own portfolio to the major market benchmarks to help you keep track of whether you’re on track to reaching your goals. You can also get financial advice from this app as the financial advisors here are registered and can provide you with advice tailored to your goals.

        Download Personal Capital here.

        4. Manage Your Subscriptions – Clarity Money

          One of the popular business models that companies are moving to these days is subscription-based. While this model does have its merits, one of the many problems that we face with this model as consumers is that we find ourselves subscribed to things we don’t need. Paying for a streaming service is nice, but many people often are subscribed to multiple streaming services.

          Because it’s so difficult to remember and even track all the subscriptions we’re paying for, this particular app can provide us with clarity. Clarity Money is all about bringing to light what you are paying for and providing you with a convenient way to cancel and throw away unused subscriptions you’re not using.

          Beyond removing unnecessary subscriptions, the app also looks at your spending behavior and offers suggestions for ways to improve your financial health. You can even make deposits to your savings account through this app.

          Download Clarity Money here.

          5. Best Bill Paying App – Prism

            If you’re looking for a convenient app that shows all of your bills and financial apps, this is the app for you. Prism takes pride in having 11,000 billers on this app. This is the highest amount of billers on bill-paying apps you can find. From billers like large banks to even small utility companies, chances are high that the company you’re paying for accepts this app.

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            In terms of actual function, you can add your bills to the app and the app will then automatically track it. It’ll send you date reminders to pay the bill as well so you won’t get hit with late payments. On top of that, you can schedule payments to be made the same day or several days in advance as well. Prism is a nice app that allows you to pay bills in one sitting without having to log in to several accounts.

            Download Prism here.

            6. Best Shared Expenses Management App – Spendee

              Many of these apps are focused on providing services to a single user. This is natural considering most of these apps are asking for your banking information. However, this is one of the few apps on here that allows multiple people to use it.

              With Spendee, the idea is to create shared wallets with your friends and family that you can then use to manage shared expenses for a household budget. You will need to get bank transactions for this to work, but that is fine. After that, the app will categorize all of the transactions and tally how you’re spending money every month.

              You’ll be able to add cash expenses manually as well for accuracy. Beyond those features, you’ve got bill tracker functionality to ensure you pay your bills and avoid late payments. There is also a budget component that will allow you to save and ensure you don’t overspend.

              Download Spendee here.

              7. Best Visuals on Finance App – Mobills

                Mobills is another bill management app that offers a great presentation of information. The app focuses on bill management and offers typical features you can find in these apps. These include categorizing your bills, paying them through the app, and setting up budgets to ensure you stick to them.

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                That being said, Mobills delivers these features remarkably. It presents you with charts that are completely interactive and can help you analyze your financial life. Also, moving bills to various categories is easy and smooth to do.

                Download Mobills here.

                8. Best Finance App for Budgeting Overall – EveryDollar

                  Dave Ramsey is a personal finance expert who urged people to follow a zero-based budget method. This method is the idea that every dollar serves a purpose in your budget. It’s this concept that has inspired the name of this app: EveryDollar.

                  With that in mind, the app provides a monthly expense tracker that you can connect your bank account to. This will take note of important transactions to ensure your spending is in check. You can even split expenses between multiple budget items. The tracker also provides you with an overview of how much money you’ve spent this month and what you’ve got left.

                  Staying true to the name, EveryDollar also has a money management aspect that will help you set up a money management plan. You’ve got access to money management experts who will guide you through financial planning.

                  Download EveryDollar here.

                  Final Thoughts

                  Many financial apps are available to help you achieve your financial goals. Each app has its own perks and benefits to consider. The nice thing about many of the apps on this list is that they have free trials that allow you to get a good feel of them before fully getting them.

                  More Finance Apps

                  Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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                  Last Updated on November 27, 2020

                  How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                  How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                  Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                  In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

                  4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

                  Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

                  1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                  Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                  It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

                  Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

                  2. Keep Goals Realistic

                  It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

                  It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                  3. Account for Inflation

                  Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

                  Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

                  For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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                  4. Short Term Vs Long Term

                  Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

                  As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                  By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                  How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                  Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

                  • Ensuring healthy savings
                  • Making smart investments

                  You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

                  Ensuring Healthy Savings

                  Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                  This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                  1. Track Expenses

                  The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

                  Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

                  If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

                  2. Pay Yourself First

                  Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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                  Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

                  The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

                  Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

                  3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

                  Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

                  Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

                  At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                  Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                  You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                  4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                  In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                  Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
                  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
                  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                  The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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                  5. Talk About It

                  Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

                  Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                  6. Maintain a Journal

                  For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                  If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                  When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

                  Making Smart Investments

                  Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

                  1. Consult a Financial Advisor

                  Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

                  Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                  2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                  Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

                  Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

                  As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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                  3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                  Einstein once remarked about compounding:

                  “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

                  Use compound interest when setting financial goals

                    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

                    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

                    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                    The Bottom Line

                    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

                    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

                    More Tips on Financial Goals

                    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

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