The Best Budgeting Apps and Tools

 · Built on a four-rule philosophy, the YNAB (You Need a Budget) budgeting app also instills better money habits.

YNAB just makes Rule 3 pretty straightforward as you can easily shift money from one category into another to Roll with the Punches. All reviewers Verified purchase only All reviewers All stars 5 star only 4 star only 3 star only 2 star only 1 star only All positive All critical All stars Text, image, video Image and video reviews only Text, image, video. Natasha March 24, at 1: Reply Joanna February 8, at

Further reading

YNAB — which stands for “You Need a Budget” — has grown to become one of the most popular budgeting software packages available. If you’re looking for an efficient budgeting system, then YNAB may be the app you’ve been looking for.

Budget, by Snowmint, is a solid contender among personal finance applications for the Mac. My iBank Review Try iBank 3. NeoBudget is a web-based envelope budgeting system which is an effective methodology for managing your finances. My Buxfer Review Try Buxfer. My moneyStrands Review Try moneyStrands. BudgetMap is a system of checkbook registers that help you to manage your finances through an envelope-type system. Geezeo, like some other applications, is financial management with a social twist.

My Geezeo Review Try Geezeo. Quicken has a large set of features and automatically tracks your spending. Microsoft Money is a comprehensive money management program. My Microsoft Money Review. Cha-Ching 2 is a Mac friendly application that looks clean and has some interesting features. MySpendingPlan TM is a free, online application. Weekly Envelope tells you how much you can spend to stay within your weekly budget.

After you spend and earn some money, you check back into YNAB on either the desktop or mobile app. Then you check back in on your budget, and adjust. As you budget, spend, adjust, spend, and adjust some more, YNAB has more useful info for you: Imagine putting each paycheck onto a stack of cash, and paying for things from the bottom of the stack; the longer money can stay in the stack before it goes out is the age of your money. Nearly every financial advisor we spoke with, and every well-regarded book we looked through, suggests the kind of budget YNAB helps you set up: The mobile app is where using a tool like YNAB provides the most benefit over creating your own budget with a spreadsheet or paper.

It does all the same things as the desktop version, but is actually more useful in some important ways. It also lets you enter cash transactions and categorize them as they happen, which is a lot faster than having to add them after the fact.

When you categorize spending or enter a transaction that costs more than you have set aside, the YNAB app immediately asks you which other budget category you are going to pull money from to cover your overspending. This way, you feel the consequence of your spending more immediately rather than spending during the week and regretting it only when you check in on weekends.

Even the app EveryDollar , backed by zero-sum proponent Dave Ramsey, frustrated one of our testers by asking them to work toward an emergency fund, but not registering their connected savings account as part of it.

You can pose a new question to the forum, and most questions are answered by experienced users, YNAB staff, or a combination of both, usually the same day. Or you can click on the blue question mark in the lower-right corner, ask a question, and get an email response. We asked a question about a small interface thing adding new categories while categorizing imported transactions late one night and had a response promptly the next morning.

YNAB has two kinds of fans: The new version is also web-based, which keeps it more readily up to date with your bank accounts than the older desktop version. Newcomers get a day free trial, and students can get a free year see the pricing page for details , but after your trial is up, your account will be locked.

Still, we think YNAB is the only app worth spending money on, even if it is slightly more than the nearest paid competition.

Most budgeting apps charge for this feature, some more EveryDollar, Mvelopes , some less Toshl. YNAB syncs with bank and credit accounts multiple times per day, depending on how active that account is.

In the first few days of using YNAB, we would sometimes be missing transactions from the previous day, but weeks later, activity would show up in a couple hours.

YNAB does not offer two-factor authentication for its accounts. And you can use YNAB entirely without providing financial logins, if you import transaction files manually. While two people can use YNAB to share and manage a household budget by sharing a username and password we recommend using a password manager for that , there are no considerations for two-person use built into YNAB. The company says it expects that couples will share passwords and create multiple budgets.

If you intend to share budgeting and spending responsibilities with someone, you may fare better with a bank that accommodates that, such as our Also great pick, Simple. Simple is an online bank with checking accounts and debit cards, not a standalone app. But it has enough budgeting tools to help you set aside money and track your spending without feeling like a whole new system you have to learn.

But in order to take full advantage of the spending tracking features, you need to commit to using the Simple Debit card for most of your purchases. But it does mean having to choose between tracking your spending and getting credit card rewards. That kind of loose budgeting and gentle guidance might be all some people need to start putting money aside, but you can also set it up to do envelope-style or zero-sum budgeting every time you get paid. Each account holder gets two debit cards, one that draws from their joint account but with a distinct card number , and one tied to their individual account, which only they can access.

Money transfers between the individual and joint account instantaneously. Besides the freedom of having your own cash you can blow on anything, it keeps both people honest about what counts as an essential shared expense.

In practice, the arrangement feels transparent and honest, an essential ingredient of budgeting. Simple has some drawbacks as a budgeting system.

Since spending tracking only works on purchases made with the Simple debit card, the system sputters when trying to account for cash or credit card purchases. And when it comes to budgeting, Safe to Spend is a fuzzy number: If you need more structure than that, YNAB does a better job at enforcing the zero-sum mentality.

Plus, there are other issues that stem from Simple being an online-only bank. All deposits are done either electronically, or using the Photo Check Deposit feature in the app. Another keeps a different online bank account open and transfers into whenever an occasional paper check, usually to a contractor, is needed. Whether starting from scratch or using a template, a spreadsheet or just ruled paper is still a great way to get your financing under control. DIY budgeting eliminates the pain of having to learn a new system and fit your finances inside sometimes rigid categories or processes.

The trade-off, of course, is the time spent looking up all your bills and transactions and manually recording all of them against your planned budget. Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney. Thanks for reading the blog! The four rules have changed significantly since the new release, and so has the software.

I have no doubt with time nYNAB will be even better. The four rules may have changed slightly, but overall the concepts are still similar. Direct import is of no use for those of us outside of Canada and the US. Besides, I think manually entering every transaction makes you consider your purchase habits more. YNAB or not they def. Up until 30th December it was pretty much only positive reviews.

Saving more and paying off bills are my goals this year. I like rule 4 because it is a great to save easily. I never really considered it to be a financial crutch for automation, but you are right I need to be a participator not have everything done for me. While I do try to automate some things like bills and paychecks, I think it helps to actually see and feel each transaction by logging it in YNAB. It makes me consider every purchase if it actually falls in line with my values.

I tried YNAB last year and was not completed sold on it and ended going back to tracking my budget via spreadsheet. It seems to be working great for Vic and family. All about finding what works best for you. The biggest difference is the mobile apps. This helps me and my wife be on the same page as we know what our balances are at any given moment. With the old spreadsheet I used to have it used to be a chore to open the computer and enter purchases. That being said, if your spreadsheet works for you, more power to you!

Haha — you could do that, but the interface would be a little clunkier trying to modify a google doc spreadsheet on your phone: Thanks for sharing the 4 YNAB principles. It made me feel comforted to know that the financial plan that I created for my family to follow http: While you make YNAB seem like a very valuable product to pay for I have built a spreadsheet system that tracks every dollar that we spend quite easily and for free.

I used to budget on a spreadsheet but found YNAB streamlined a lot of the monotony that came with budgeting entering transactions, reconciling. I know the losing history can be tough. I figure while history is great, budgeting is more about moving forward! I can always look at my old YNAB4 file for historical purposes. The right side of my budget is the anticipated monthly expense column while the left is the mirrored, live, up-to-the-minute, transaction side. I also keep the Cumulative Accounts like yearly expenses that help me avoid budget-busting surprises.

It certainly has a place here. I actually make a living staring at spreadsheets all day! I just found that YNAB made our budget a lot easier to follow by being able to access it at any moment in our phones.

These are such important principles. These principles really get at those misconceptions and solve many common problems. They think that having a positive balance in their checking account is enough. I was that way for years: Awesome post guys — Vic, as usual, your writing is fantastic, and J, great choice for a feature! Give the day free trial a shot, and really dig into the rules and their tutorials. It felt like money was leaking. Like Jenn said, the 34 day free trial should give you more than enough time to figure out if YNAB works for you: YNAB just makes Rule 3 pretty straightforward as you can easily shift money from one category into another to Roll with the Punches.

Oh hey there, Vic! I love Personal Capital! I use it to get an overall outlook on our net worth. To me YNAB is basically a glorified spreadsheet — the biggest difference is the awareness I get by having access to my budget at all times.

For me it streamlined a lot of the monotony that comes with using a spreadsheet like entering transactions and conferring with my wife about any transactions. I have YNAB4 and will use it until possible. Anyway, for someone who loves to have something online, sync between devices etc, this is clearly a very cool service to try. YNAB4 will be supported through and beyond so you can take a wait and see approach.

I am willing to give new YNAB a shot because of some of the features it offers goals, direct import.





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