The 7 Best Budget Apps of 2021

The year's best budgeting apps offer everything you need to develop and stick to a personal or household budget, from retirement tracking to free crash courses in household finance.
Best overall
YNAB
YNAB
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Versatile, glitch-free app
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Free budgeting workshops
Best free app
Intuit Mint
Mint
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Free credit score tracking
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Excellent desktop interface
Best for sharing
Good Budget
Goodbudget
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Household budget collaboration
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Online budgeting courses
Best investing
Personal Capital
Personal Capital
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Retirement and net worth tracking
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    DIY investing options
Best spending analysis
Logo for Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Marcus Insights
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Clear spending analysis
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    User-friendly reports

Tired of reaching the end of the month and wondering where your hard-earned cash went? You need a budgeting app. These apps won't help you juggle your business finances—in fact, you should separate your business and personal finances immediately to avoid legal and financial trouble. But they can help you understand and organize your personal finances—crucial skills for any business owner.

Best budgeting apps of 2021

Best budgeting software 2021

Brand
Starting price
iOS app rating (out of five)
Android app rating (out of five)
Learn more

YNAB (You Need a Budget)

$11.99/mo.

4.8

4.1

Mint

Free

4.8

4.6

Goodbudget

Free

4.7

4.4

Personal Capital

Free

4.7

4.5
Marcus Insights

Free

4.9

3.9

Data effective 3/30/21. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Best overall: YNAB (You Need a Budget)

YNAB
YNAB (You Need a Budget)
YNAB's hands-on, active-learning app does more than help you set a budget—it also teaches budgeting principles that can transform the way you see your finances.

YNAB's approach to budgeting goes beyond tracking your money to see where it goes. Instead, the app actively teaches you to budget. (As the Gilmores might say, it's not an app, it's a lifestyle.)

As per YNAB's four budgeting rules (which follow zero-based budgeting principles), you should assign each dollar you earn a task, whether that's helping you buy dinner or save for a vacation. Then, you spend your dollar on that task only. In other words, you're learning to purchase intentionally and save sans spending sprees.

If it sounds a little complicated, well, you're not wrong. YNAB definitely demands a learning curve—you'll have to watch some videos and read some articles to set up your account, add your financial information, get to know the envelope budgeting system, and start expense tracking. But the site is intuitive and easy to navigate, and the vast user community is on hand with immediate practical advice.

Even though it costs money in a market of freebies, YNAB is still our top choice. If you like it enough to sign up, we recommend making the up-front annual payment if you can: it saves you $59 overall.

Strengths
Pro Bullet User-friendly, highly rated app
Pro Bullet Sharing for household budgeting
Weaknesses
Con Bullet $11.99 monthly cost or $84 annual cost
Con Bullet Up-front learning curve

Best free budget app: Mint

Intuit Mint
Mint
Want to set your budget on autopilot? Mint's free app includes free credit score reports and a slew of easy-to-understand graphs that help you keep tabs on spending trends.

If reading about YNAB exhausted you, you need Mint. The Intuit-owned app is completely free, and it's pretty hands-free too. Once you sync your bank account, Mint automatically assigns your transactions categories like rent or mortgage payments, car payments, or groceries. It then makes budget recommendations that you can personalize at the start of each month.

Like Intuit's accounting software, QuickBooks, Mint's reports are excellent. They're easy to generate, read, and understand, and they're beautifully designed too. (If you've never described a budgeting report as beautiful before, sign up for Mint. You'll get there.)

Unfortunately, Mint's sleek, well-designed app still has some serious technical kinks. Both Android and iOS users report getting kicked out of the app, being required to sign in over and over again, and having to endlessly resync their banks—all of which undercut Mint's user-friendly interface.

Strengths
Pro Bullet Unlimited free credit score reports
Pro Bullet Intuitive interface
Pro Bullet Bill reminders and low-funds notifications
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Glitchy iOS and Android app
Con Bullet Targeted ads

Best for sharing: Goodbudget

Good Budget
Goodbudget
Goodbudget's easy sharing and fast syncing across multiple devices makes it perfect for households that want to collaborate on building a budget.

Share a few bank accounts and savings goals with a partner? Don't want to shoulder the budgeting responsibility for your entire family? Goodbudget was built just for you.

Like YNAB, Goodbudget doesn't just track your spending. Instead, it encourages you and your budgeting bedfellows to plan for the future. Together, you'll predetermine how much money you want to spend as a household this month on, say, groceries. When you visit the grocery store, the transaction information syncs not just to your Goodbudget app but also to your other household members' devices for real-time collaboration.

Goodbudget's free plan limits you to two devices and one account, so you can either share an account with a partner or manage finances yourself. With the paid plan, though, you can add unlimited accounts and devices, which means you can track your personal finances with an individual Goodbudget account and share a different account with a partner. Plus, only the paid plan includes customer service.

Strengths
Pro Bullet Structured online courses
Pro Bullet Debt tracking
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Limited sharing with free plan
Con Bullet Customer service with paid plan only

Best for investing: Personal Capital

Personal Capital
Personal Capital

Want to budget and track your personal worth, retirement goals, and investments? Personal Capital's free app gives you the tools to start.

If you're happy with your monthly budgeting habits but want to better prepare for the future—we're talking about decades down the road—Personal Capital is your app. (Note that we're talking about Personal Capital's free mobile app, not its more expensive, better-known investment services, though we'll touch on those below.)

While Personal Capital will happily help you budget month to month, you'll get the most out of the app by using it for long-term financial planning. For instance, Personal Capital charts factors like these to help you plan for retirement:

  • Social Security
  • Personal savings
  • Bucket-list goals like international trips
  • Investment portfolios

The app tracks your net worth too, which gives you a wide-angle view of your current financial standing so you can determine where you want to be years from now.

Strengths
Pro Bullet Long-term retirement planning
Pro Bullet DIY investment tools
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Expensive investment plans
Con Bullet Glitchy Android app with limited budgeting features

Best spending analysis: Marcus Insights

Logo for Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Marcus Insights

Marcus Insights by Goldman Sachs consolidates your financial accounts into one clean dashboard, providing you with clearer insights into your typical spending habits.

Marcus Insights is a free money management app that acts like a hub for all your financial accounts. Once you sync your credit card, checking account, investment account, and any other financial accounts, Marcus Insights starts generating, well, insights into your spending habits. The insights, in the form of reports and easy-to-understand graphs, can help you make informed, empowered financial decisions.

Just so there’s no confusion, Marcus by Goldman Sachs is an online bank featuring savings accounts, checking accounts, personal loans, CDs, and more. Marcus Insights, on the other hand, is an Goldman Sachs app that anyone can use—even those who don’t have a Marcus bank account.

Unfortunately, while Marcus Insights has the highest-ranked iPhone app of any budget app on our list, its Android app has the lowest-ranked app of any on our list. The Android app seems a little glitchy, but it’s also much less fully featured than its iOS counterpart. (In other words, Marcus Insights is one of the best budget apps for iPhone, but we definitely can’t say the same for Android.)

Strengths
Pro Bullet Spending-habit analysis
Pro Bullet Clear, user-friendly graphs
Pro Bullet Highly rated iPhone app
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Lower-rated Android app with limited features

Take your business finances to the next level with accounting software

Honorable mentions

Still feeling pretty meh about the whole budgeting thing? ere are two good budgeting app options that could help you meet that savings goal.

Simplest setup: Wally

Wally
Wally

Wally streamlines budgeting with digestible graphics, a fast setup, and receipt capturing for thorough expense tracking.

If you're not into uphill learning, new bank accounts, and investment portfolios, Wally's simplicity should suit you nicely. The interface is cute and colorful, which helps make budgeting more engaging. You can sync the money management app with your financial institutions for fast transaction categorization or, if you're a hands-on, detail-oriented budgeter, upload receipts on the go for Wally to categorize for you.

Wally's simplicity is great, but it's also a key drawback. Most of our other recommended apps have a desktop version, but Wally's an app only—so if you hate mobile banking, be prepared to hate Wally too.

Best customization: EveryDollar

Every Dollar
EveryDollar

EveryDollar's clear, high-quality graphics and simple, easy-to-read design make it a streamlined example of personal finance software. However, it works best for hands-on budgeters who don't mind tracking and categorizing expenses by hand.

EveryDollar is financial guru Dave Ramsey's financial management app, and it follows a technique similar to YNAB's. At the start of the month, you'll list how much you expect to make and then give each dollar a job, like paying the mortgage or saving for a trip.

Unless you upgrade to the paid EveryDollar Plus plan, though, the budgeting app doesn’t have bank syncing. Instead, you’ll have to enter and categorize each financial transaction yourself. So how much is the EveryDollar Plus plan? It’s a pricey $129.99 a year—higher than any other expense tracker on this list. Frankly, that’s much too high a price for simple bank syncing.

Find Your Money—and Keep More of It

With plans starting at $15 a month, FreshBooks is well-suited for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small-business owners alike.

  • Track time and expenses
  • Create custom invoices
  • Accept online payments

Budgeting app FAQ

What are the best free budgeting apps?

Mint is our favorite free budget app. It offers a lot at no cost, including automatic bank syncing and budget categorization. If you want a good money management app other than the uber-popular Mint, though, you have a big pool to choose from: most budgeting apps are free (YNAB is the notable exception).

How safe are budgeting apps?

Most budget planner apps are pretty safe (depending on the app). The top budget app brands know that sharing your banking information with a third party is a trust exercise, so they go out of their way to emphasize security. But before you sign up for a budgeting app and start syncing your bank accounts, check for a security section on the app's website. Any financial app worth its salt should explain how it protects your data.

YNAB is a good example of what to look for in a secure financial planning app. Its site infrastructure relies on Heroku, Amazon Web Service's cloud-based platform. YNAB employees can't access any of your financial information, even during customer service calls. And the company doesn't hang on to your data after you delete your account.

Which is better, YNAB or Mint?

The best money management app for you depends on what you want. Are you interested in long-term financial planning, hands-on budgeting, and in-depth fiscal learning? Try YNAB. Do you prefer a hands-off approach and an app that basically runs your budget for you? Mint is a better pick for you.

And YNAB costs while Mint doesn't, so if you don't want to budget for budgeting help, Mint's the better option. If you're not sure which personal finance app you want, try both providers risk-free to find out if the cost is worth it for you.

The takeaway

If user reviews are to be believed, choosing the best financial planning app turns money management from a chore to . . . well, not exactly a delight, but at least an interesting part of your month. Even better, learning to budget in your personal life can make you a more financially conscious business owner.

All the best budgeting tools on our list are either free or offer free trials, so don't be afraid to try one (or more) on for size.

Interested in budgeting for your business, not just your personal finances? Our piece on bookkeeping tips for small-business owners can help.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Kylie is an accounting writer for Business.org. Kylie spent two of the last four years writing for and with small-business owners—from dentists in Australia to plumbers in the Midwest. She spent the other two writing in depth about internet and security. She’s passionate about reading, hiking, and dedicating every spare second to writing for fun (at lunch, between meetings, on the train, before breakfast . . . ). Her content helps small-business owners tackle the logistics of running a business so they can focus more on their passions too.
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