Keep Your Finances Under Control With These Budgeting Apps

When you were a kid you probably thought being an adult was all about having a bank account, a credit card, and money to buy whatever you want, whenever you want. It’s a rude awakening when you realize at least half of the money you’re making is probably going towards bills and other not-so-fun necessities. If you want to have money left over after you get living expenses out of the way, budgeting is key. Whether you’re saving for a big ticket item, working on paying down debt, or just want to get better at managing your money, these apps can help you reach all your financial goals.

With investments, multiple bank accounts, credit cards, and a number different fixed and variable expenses from month to month, no one ever said keeping track of all your finances was an easy task. The key to being smart about your money is staying informed about where it’s going. With Mint, everything money related is in one place. When you know exactly what you’re spending your money on (didn’t realize you spent $100 a month on coffee?), it’s easier to pinpoint exactly where you can cut back. The app is completely free and pretty intuitive so you’ll start to notice the patterns Mint sets out for you and learn a thing or two about smart money management along the way.

Similar to Mint, PocketGuard tracks and categorizes your transactions in real time so you can stay on top of exactly where your money is going on a daily basis. It’ll calculate an exact dollar amount you have available to spend so there’s no ambiguity or room to ignore where you’re really at with your budget for the month. PocketGuard will also build a personalized budget tailored to your lifestyle, spending habits, fixed bills, and savings goals. If that’s not enough, the app will also give you advice on where you can save here and there such as opening a high interest savings account or negotiating lower bills. If you’re not the type who wants to pour over your budget every night, PocketGuard is the app for you.

As if creating and sticking to a budget isn’t hard enough on your own, being in a long term relationship probably calls for a whole different approach. Even if you intend to keep a portion of your finances separate, there are probably certain categories (like household items, and eating out) that you might want to track together. GoodBudget uses the classic envelope budgeting method in digital form. That means, you provide yourself with a fixed amount of money to put towards different categories such as bills, groceries, entertainment, and savings. With the ability to sync with multiple devices, GoodBudget is made to help couples and families keep track of every penny.

You Need a Budget
YNAB is designed for people who want to be in ultra-control of every single dollar at all times. That means instead of trusting an app like Mint or PocketGuard to make a budget for you, you do it yourself—and some people need that step in order to stay accountable to the plan they’ve set out for themselves. With YNAB, Rule #1 is give every dollar a job. As soon as money enters your account you earmark it for a purpose such as the hydro bill, grocery shopping, or a new pair of running shoes. The YNAB method works because you aren’t making emotional decisions about your money—you’re following a logical well-thought out plan that is designed to make sure you have the money you need when you need it. That means saving for large expenses you know you have coming up so you don’t end up going into debt just to keep up.

Paying your bills on time is essential, but it isn’t always as straight forward as setting up a direct payment and forgetting about it. What if you don’t have enough money in your account when the payment is scheduled to come out? What if a bill is higher than you expected? It can be tedious having to log on to multiple websites to check account balances and bill due dates, but Prism will keep track of all that and send reminders so there’s no way your cable bill or car insurance payment will slip your mind. The app will also send you an alert if a bill is higher or lower than normal so you know to look into it. It’s like having your own personal accountant whose whole job is to make sure your bills get paid on time.

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