Some apps are designed to help with savings, others will adjust your budget to your circumstances. Here is a round-up of the best budget apps on the market.
The 6 Best Budget Apps for 2020
|Budget App||Best For||Standout Feature||More Info|
|You Need a Budget (YNAB)||Best Overall||Helps you break the “paycheck-to-paycheck” cycle||Learn More|
|Paymi||Money Back||Free app puts money back into your pocket||Learn More|
|PocketSmith||Big Picture Planning||Forecast cash flow up to 30 years in the future||Learn More|
|PocketGuard||Free App||After paying bills and savings, the free app calculates what’s left in your pocket||Learn More|
|Wallet||For iPhone Users||Gives you the big picture on your spending habits||Learn More|
|Spendee||For Android Users||Helps you save for big ticket items, such as a dream vacation||Learn More|
|Mylo||Investing||Offers a simple, automatic solution to investing||Learn More|
Best Budget App Overall: You Need a Budget
If you are serious about tracking your money and living within your budget, YNAB (You Need A Budget) is the app for you. It’s incredibly comprehensive: helping you to balance your income and expenses, but also to prioritize short, medium and long-term financial goals.
YNAB gives users an option to sync the app directly to their bank accounts or manually enter transactions. The app will budget the money you actually have in your account. Each dollar is then given “a job,” whether that’s covering your rent, paying your Netflix account, or saving for a dream vacation. The end goal is to help you break the “paycheck-to-paycheck cycle” and gain control over your spending. YNAB also offers online tutorials, such as mastering your credit cards.
According to YNAB, new budgeters save on average $600 by month two and more than $6,000 their first year. You can also try YNAB free for a month. The app can be easily downloaded to your iPhone, Android, iPad, and Apple Watch – so you have no excuse not to keep track of your spending.
Best Budget App For Money Back: Paymi
Paymi isn’t a budgeting app per se, but it’s on our list because it’s such a great tool for saving (and earning!) money. Paymi puts cash back into your pocket simply by shopping at any of their retail, travel, or restaurant partners. How it works: just connect your credit and debit cards to the app and then go shopping. Every time you spend money online or in-store at one of Paymi’s partners, you’ll earn cash back. The app automatically tracks what you’ve earned and adds it to your Paymi account.
Users can link as many debit and/or credit cards to their Paymi account as they like. Once you’ve accrued over $2 in savings, your money can be transferred directly to your bank account through Interact e-transfer. However, the app will charge you an Interac fee of $1.50, unless your balance is over $25, so it’s best to wait. Paymi has partnered with popular retailers across Canada, including SportChek, Starbucks, Spotify, Burger King, Mark’s, Hudson’s Bay Company, Aldo, Staples, and Leon’s. In addition, CIBC clients can get money back from the app on top of any rewards they earn with their CIBC credit or debit cards.
Best Budget App for Big Picture Planning: PocketSmith
Many apps let you budget and track your spending, but few will take into account your past financial data to help you project your cash flow into the future. PocketSmith takes a holistic view of your finances, letting you import financial data to create multiple future scenarios. Plan for a home purchase, a dream vacation, or make a debt payoff plan – or all three – with PocketSmith’s sophisticated planning software. The app also lets you monitor your spending, create weekly or monthly budgets, and track your net worth.
The PocketSmith app is available on iOs and Android, or through your browser. The app has three pricing tiers ranging from $0 to $20 per month, depending on the functionality you need. Here’s some good news: Young and Thrifty readers who sign up for PocketSmith get 50% off a monthly Premium subscription for the first two months.
Best Free Budget App: PocketGuard
PocketGuard is a free app that makes budgeting a cinch. Like YNAB, it links to your bank accounts, then PocketGuard factors in your income minus regular bills, everyday expenses, and savings goals.
But the selling feature of this budgeting app is its simplicity. It categorizes items and lets you create custom categories and set spending limits – like on bars and restaurants. The app then calculates what’s left “In My Pocket,” and on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you can see how much money is left in your wallet. PocketGuard will also suggest smarter ways to save money, such as lowering your bills or investing. Available on iOS and Android.
Best Budget App For iPhone: Wallet
Wallet links to your banking accounts to give you the big picture of your spending habits. The app’s colourful graphs offer easy-to-understand insight into all your finances, including credit and debit cards, debt and cash. Once you have your spending under control, Wallet shows you how to plan for the future and set a tangible goal, then helps you stay on track. You can see your spending in real-time and spot spending habits that you may want to change. It also lets you rate how expenses made you feel and assign them emotions (as you’d guess, the dislike emotion is a poop emoji).
To synch to your bank account, you’ll need a paid version of the app, which costs US$4.99 per month or US$28.99 annually. The paid version lets you share your account with others.
Best Budget App for Android: Spendee
Spendee is a beautifully designed app that’s geared to help you better understand (and control) your financial habits. Similar to other budgeting apps, Spendee links to your bank and tracks your cash flow using brightly coloured charts and diagrams. Users can set budgets for various categories and Spendee will even provide a daily budget to help keep your money on track. Spendee will track E-Wallet and crypto wallet. You can set up customizable alerts and link your Spendee account to multiple users – perfect for families or households.
Their smart budgets feature helps you save bigger items, such as a car or dream vacation. The app even lets you upload a photo of what you’re saving for, for added motivation. For their added features, you’ll need to sign up for Spendee Plus at US$14.99 per year, or Spendee Premium at US$22.99 per year. A basic version is also available on Android and also iOS.
Best Budget App for Investing: Mylo
Tracking your cash flow is hard enough on its own. But throw investing into the mix, and it can be enough to make you throw your hands in the air. Fortunately, Mylo makes investing less painful. This Canadian-designed app offers a simple, automatic solution to investing. Mylo links to your financial accounts and each time you use your debit or credit cards, it rounds up the total to the nearest dollar, then invests the difference. The app lets you create goals, such as saving up for a house. That no whip Frappuccino you order every morning? Mylo will squirrel that spare change away in a low-cost ETF (exchange-traded fund).
The app is available on both iOS and Android. While the app is free of charge, Mylo does charge a flat fee of $3, which covers the cost of their portfolio manager.
Other popular budgeting apps
When it comes to budgeting apps, Mint is the OG. This free app links to your bank accounts, savings accounts, loans, and investments for an extremely thorough overview of your finances. Mint will help design a budget you’re more likely to stick to by calculating your average spend in various categories. Track your bills in one place, then receive bill alerts to your phone or email. Mint will notify you if your funds are low or of any suspicious activity. The app also comes with a free credit score. Mint is free to download and available on iOS and Android.
Wally is a free personal finance app designed to help compare and monitor your income with your outgoing expenses. The app connects to your bank accounts then automatically categorizes your spending. Set weekly or monthly budgets and track your day-to-day progress. Users can also add notes or scan receipts to stay organized. Wally provides insights on your financial well-being with handy pie charts and graphs. The app is ad-free and is available on iOS and Android.
How Do Budgeting Apps Work?
Sure, we all know the importance of creating a budget in order to manage your spending and save for our financial goals. But the truth is, budgeting can be overwhelming. The best budget apps in Canada work by automating the process of tracking your income and seeing where you spend it. Many of the apps featured can link to your bank account to give you an instant snapshot of your expenses and assets.
Why Use a Budgeting App?
Where budgeting apps win over a traditional Excel spreadsheet is it takes your financial information and presents it in an easy-to-understand format. Visuals (such as pie charts) not only show you exactly where you’re spending but also illuminate how much certain spending categories (like restaurants) are eating into your income. Budget apps help you stay on top of bills and everyday spending and show exactly how much you have leftover at the end of the day.
Plus, budget apps keep you accountable. The numbers don’t lie, and it’s hard to deny your spending habits or fiddle the figures when they’re right in front of your face. A budgeting app is a great way to “keep it real,” and motivate you to cut back on unnecessary spending.
The bottom line? Budgeting apps are easy to use and keep your financial life hassle-free.
Remember, budgeting apps are a tool, not a solution. Downloading one to your iPhone isn’t going to instantly transform you into the Wolf of Wall Street. No matter which budgeting app you use, you still need the discipline—and the desire—to master your finances and create a budget that you can stick to.