Need help with budgeting? There’s an app for that
Personal finance experts preach the virtues of budgeting. But few Americans budget, even though a lot think a budget is a good idea.
“A budget is a structured way of seeing how much you are earning and depositing in your checking account and how much you are spending,” said Keith Newcomb, founder of Full Life Financial in Nashville, Tenn.
While most don’t budget, they sure use their mobile apps – a lot – for spending. Among Millennials, in particular, Amazon is considered the most essential app, according to a survey by ComScore. You can shop, bank, entertain yourself, hail a ride, and more.
But what about budgeting and managing finances? As the joke goes, “There’s an app for that.” And there are plenty of them out there. A number of options exist for Apple and Android mobile devices that will help you create a budget and manage your money.
Part of the reason for not budgeting involves the actual process of creating a budget. It takes focus and time. A mobile app may help ease the anxiety of creating a budget and sticking to it.
Like with any list of what’s best, “best” depends on who is doing the reviewing. But best for you depends on what you want and need in terms of budgeting.
NerdWallet gave Acorns a best overall rating not for budgeting but for its savings capability. With the app, purchases on cards tied to the app are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is invested in a portfolio of low-cost exchange-traded funds. So if investing isn’t in your mindset just yet, this app can gently lead you in that direction.
Investopedia highlights Acorns and Mint along with YNAB (You Need a Budget) and Wally. YNAB comes as a mobile and a desktop computer program. “You Need a Budget doesn’t let you create budgets around money you don’t have – it forces you to live within your actual income,” according to Investopedia.
The Wally app allows you to keep track of expenses by taking a photo of receipts. That way, you don’t have to manually enter the receipts. And, geolocation on your mobile device allows the app to fill in information, removing more steps.
For those who don’t want to feel so trapped with a budget, there’s PocketGuard. According to Tom’s Guide, the app compiles all of your bills and other spending requirements and tells you “to provide you an estimate as to how much you can safely spend from your accounts without going into the red.”
Tom’s Guide has a rundown of a dozen or so mobile apps. Scroll through and check them out. There are free ones as well as ones with small fees.
Find the one best suited to your needs and your lifestyle. Perhaps using the simplest one first will get you moving in the budget direction and lay the foundation for more complex budgeting and personal finance software in the future.