Best Budgeting Apps for April 2024

If you want to get smart with your money, creating — and sticking to — a monthly budget is essential. Without one, it’s easy to lose sight of your long-term goals and neglect the steps necessary to reach them.

“Contrary to popular belief, budgeting is about gaining freedom, not restricting your life,” said Bernadette Joy, personal finance coach and CNET expert review board member. “By doing a proper budget at the beginning of the month, you can have a clear picture of what your priorities are and what you are not focused on in a given month. Budgeting is singularly the most important financial skill I learned to become debt-free and a millionaire because it taught me how to prioritize what matters most to me.”

And budgeting doesn’t have to be tedious. There are plenty of apps out there to make it easier to monitor your income and spending, set goals and stay on track. Even better, many budgeting apps offer basic features for free or a trial period to test out premium features. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve compiled a list of the best budgeting apps and what they can do for you.

Best budgeting apps

Budgeting App Price Best for CNET Rating
Rocket Money Free; $4-$12/month (7-day free trial) Best overall 9.4
YNAB $14.99/month or $99/year (34-day free trial) Diving into the details 8.9
PocketGuard Free; $12.99/month, $74.99/year  (PocketGuard Plus) Debt pay-off planning 8.8
EveryDollar Free; $17.99/month, $79.99/year (Premium) (14-day free trial) Zero-based budgeting 8.5
Goodbudget Free; $8/month or $70/year (Plus version) Envelope budgeting 8.1
Quicken Simplifi $3.99/month ($2.99/month if purchased by March 10, 2024) Overall snapshot of your finances 7.0

Data accurate as of March 1, 2024.

 

Rocket Money


Rocket Money

Best overall

9.4/10
CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Rocket Money is great for budgeters who want a simple budgeting experience. It has all the features you need to do basic budgeting, plus some advanced ones to help you manage your overall financial situation.

Rocket’s app and desktop platform are both intuitive and easy to navigate, and it offers a plethora of notifications and reports to help you stay on top of your budget, including bill increase alerts and monthly spending reports. You can also set up automated transfers to your savings account to make saving a breeze.

The free version is pretty barebones, but you can get the premium version by paying anywhere from $4 to $12 monthly — your choice. You get the same features regardless of how much you pay. Rocket also offers bill negotiation, which costs 30% to 60% of your first year’s savings (you choose the amount).

As a former Mint user, I tested several popular budgeting apps and found the paid version of Rocket Money to be the best replacement for Mint’s in terms of features, user experience and accessibility to the average budgeter.

  • Links to external accounts
  • Automated savings*
  • Account sharing with a partner (in beta testing)*
  • Credit score viewing
  • Credit report tracking*
  • Net worth tracking*
  • Bill negotiation

 

*Premium subscription only

Basic: free; Premium: $4-$12 per month (7-day free trial)

YNAB (You Need a Budget)

YNAB (You Need a Budget)

Best for diving into the details

8.9/10
CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

You Need A Budget is meant for people who like to sweat the details. Its zero-based budgeting strategy encourages you to give every dollar a job, assigning all income to categories you set — such as specific bill payments and savings goals — to avoid overspending. For example, if you want to save for a future vacation, you’ll need to set that as a goal and assign money to it every month.

At $14.99 a month, YNAB is pricey. There may also be a learning curve as the app offers more complexity in terms of organizing and analyzing your budget. The 34-day trial should help you decide if the monthly fee is worth another line item in your budget.

  • External account linking
  • Budget sharing with up to five people
  • Automatic updates between mobile devices and computer 
  • Savings goals
  • Loan payoff planner
  • Spending and net worth reports
  • Transaction splitting
  • Free live workshops

YNAB offers a free year for college students and a 34-day free trial for all users. After that, it costs $14.99 per month or $99 per year.

PocketGuard

PocketGuard

Best for debt pay-off planning

8.8/10
CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

PocketGuard is another option that allows you to track your spending based on categories. It’s designed to help you control your spending and focus on savings goals. Linking the app to your accounts automates the tracking process. The app tracks subscription services and flags potential money wasters to help you save.

It has useful features that suggest lower-cost services based on your profile settings, thereby maximizing the money in your pocket. It also offers bill negotiation through Billshark, which costs 40% of the amount it saves you for two years if it’s successful.

The free version offers a variety of features, including budgeting tools, spending reports and expense tracking. For $12.99 per month or $74.99 yearly, you can create multiple budgets and custom budget categories, unlimited savings goals and a debt pay-off plan.

  • External account linking
  • Automated savings*
  • Account sharing with a partner
  • Bill payment tracker*
  • Debt pay-off planning*
  • Billshark bill negotiation

 

*Premium subscription only

Basic: free; Premium: $12.99 per month or $74.99 per year

EveryDollar

EveryDollar

Best for zero-based budgeting

8.5/10
CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Popular personal finance speaker and author Dave Ramsey launched the EveryDollar app to help fans of his money philosophy follow his “Baby Steps” out of debt and toward financial freedom. Using the zero-based budgeting approach, you categorize your expenses before the month begins, assigning all of your take-home dollars until there’s nothing remaining.

EveryDollar’s free version allows you to create and customize your budget, manually track expenses and sync data across multiple devices. The Premium plan allows the app to connect to bank accounts and dynamically track spending, plus gives you access to group coaching calls with financial experts. It also offers a financial roadmap to track your net worth, progress toward retirement goals and Baby Steps milestones.

However, you’ll still need to manually categorize your transactions; the app won’t do it for you. That’s because it aims to make you “feel that money leaving [y]our account.” And at $17.99 per month of $79.99 per year, it’s the priciest app on our list.

Note: A recent upgrade has prompted some users to complain about the app’s responsiveness. The Ramsey Solution organization has been working on bug fixes, but users continue to experience problems. 

  • Links to external accounts*
  • Account sharing with a partner
  • Savings goals*
  • Financial roadmap*
  • Group coaching*

 

*Premium subscription only

Basic: free; Premium: $17.99/month or $79.99/year (14-day free trial)

Goodbudget

Goodbudget

Best for envelope budgeting

8.1/10
CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Building a budget for the first time can feel overwhelming. Goodbudget breaks it down using the envelope method of budgeting, a decades-old financial strategy that encourages you to split your income into separate envelopes or categories. For example, you might have envelopes for rent, bills, groceries, gas, nonessential purchases and savings.

Goodbudget lets you employ this method digitally. You choose envelopes from a list of predesignated goals and deposit money into them every month. With the free version, you can choose from 10 preset envelopes — you can’t design your own. The Plus version allows you to create an unlimited number of envelopes for $8 per month, as well as enjoy expanded features such as unlimited accounts and a longer transaction history. There’s no free trial, but you can get a full refund if you cancel within 30 days.

If you’re looking for a great strategy to stick to a spending plan, Goodbudget’s easy user interface, preselected goals and visually pleasing envelope method can help you create good budgeting habits. The biggest downside is that it doesn’t link to external accounts — you must manually input each transaction. This can help you get a better idea of just how much you’re spending each day, but some users will find it tedious.

  • Envelope-based budgeting system
  • Account sharing with multiple people
  • Savings goals
  • Debt pay-off tracking

Basic: free; Plus: $8 per month or $70 per year

Quicken Simplifi

Quicken Simplifi

Best for an overall snapshot of your finances

7.0/10
CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Quicken Simplifi is the other budgeting app on our list that doesn’t offer a free version — and unlike YNAB, it doesn’t offer a free trial to test it out. Quicken is known for personal finance software and has distilled its decades’ worth of experience in the personal finance arena down to a handy budgeting app. Simplifi targets users who have complex financial lives with tools that create custom plans based on income and expenses.

Like most budgeting apps, Quicken allows you to create and monitor your budget, track spending and link multiple accounts across one main dashboard. The app offers a helpful snapshot of your bank accounts, top spending categories, spending watchlists and historical patterns. The projected balances tool uses recurring transactions to estimate your balance over the coming 30 days.

Some users may find Simplifi’s wealth of information and customizable reports overwhelming, and there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to navigating it all. But if you want to dive into multiple aspects of your financial life from your investments to your net worth, it offers lots of ways to do so in one platform.

  • Combined account dashboard
  • External account linking
  • Savings goals
  • Lots of custom reports
  • Transaction splitting
  • Budget sharing with a partner
  • Customizable spending plan
  • Investment, net worth and refund trackers
  • Export reports for use in other software
  • Spending watchlists
  • Projected cash flow

Basic: $3.99 per month ($2.99/month if purchased by March 10, 2024)

What’s happening with Mint?

The Mint budgeting app, which used to make our best list, is shutting down on March 23, 2024. Mint encourages users to migrate their data to Credit Karma, but as this writing, Credit Karma doesn’t offer competitive budgeting features like the other picks on our list.

What is a budgeting app?

A budgeting app is a software program that helps you track your expenses, income and spending and draft a budget from the convenience of your mobile device, tablet or computer. Most budgeting apps sync to your bank accounts so you can automatically monitor your activity in one place. The best budgeting apps also provide snapshots of your financial history, help you make savings projections and assist with other goals, such as paying off debt

What you need in a budgeting app 

With so many budgeting apps available online, you need one that’s easy to use, provides a variety of financial tools and connects with external accounts, all at a reasonable cost. From there, it largely depends on your needs and preferences.

“I don’t believe in apps being perfect, so primarily, use one that works for your personal needs,” said Shang Saavedra, founder and CEO of Save My Cents and CNET Financial Review Board member. “I do like having some manual adjustment aspect to the app as I don’t think full automation makes sense because we all see our money differently.”

How do budgeting apps work?

Budgeting apps provide a way to keep track of your income and spending in one place. Most budgeting apps connect to your bank and track your spending, bills, due dates and other key information to help you stay on top of your finances. The best budgeting apps also have features that help you establish savings goals and monitor other aspects of your financial life, such as your credit score or net worth. 

Is a budgeting app worth it?

Budgeting is one of the best ways to get a handle on your finances, and a budgeting app can help make it easier. But it’s ultimately up to you to make the appropriate changes to improve your finances. A budgeting app can’t hold you accountable at the end of the day, but it can help you stay organized and make a long-term plan. 

Is it better to pay for a budgeting app or use a free app?

If you can find the features you need in a free app, start there, especially if you’re trying to save money. There’s no need to add an additional expense if a free app provides the services you need. If you need more than a free app can provide, start with a trial plan to a paid app so you can get a feel for the app before committing.

What are the alternatives to budgeting apps?

Google Docs provides free monthly budget templates that are handy if you’re interested in a no-frills, basic system that’s easy to set up.

Some banks also provide budgeting software along with their digital banking platform. Capital One’s mobile app allows you to categorize expenses and create separate savings accounts to track different goals. H&R Block’s banking app, Spruce, has a check register view that allows you to easily monitor categorized expenses, work toward established savings goals and automate savings transfers.

You can also take advantage of financial coaching or investment planning services. Some banks or credit unions, such as Alliant Credit Union, offer financial services if you open an account.

The bottom line

Making and sticking to a budget each month is essential if you want to gain control of your spending habits and reach your financial goals. A budgeting app is a useful tool to help you with this. There’s a plethora of great options available, both free and with a subscription. Determining your needs and budgeting style will help you narrow down the best fit for you.

FAQs

The 50/30/20 rule is a common way to organize your budget based on percentages. With this approach, you divide your take-home income into three spending categories: 50% for living expenses and essentials (needs), 30% for discretionary spending (wants) and 20% for savings and debt elimination.

But keep in mind this budgeting method is unrealistic if you have substantial credit card, student loan or medical debt. To establish a budget that works for you, you need to understand your financial needs and goals.

Zero-based budgeting is a technique that requires you to create a new budget each month and identify how each dollar will be spent until you reach $0. With this strategy, you look at all potential expenditures in the upcoming month instead of making adjustments to a previous month’s budget.

Most budgeting apps employ multiple levels of security to protect your financial information. That said, you should always use precautions to keep your personal information safe, such as creating strong passwords and enabling two-factor authentication when available.

How we tested budgeting apps

Our banking editors test and rate budgeting apps based on first-hand experience and product features. We consider the user experience, interface, support options and overall value compared to the price of each budgeting app. We also evaluate key features, including the ability to set savings goals and connect to external accounts securely.


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