Between managing everything in your life, sometimes there’s no time left to manage your money. And honestly, managing money is one of the hardest things to do. At times, swiping your debit card may become more of a game of roulette than you would like to admit. And when you see that low account balance, even when you’re working yourself to death, you ask yourself: what did I even buy? And when your card comes back declined or you just don’t have enough money to buy that thing that you actually need, people will tell you to “budget.” But how? How do we balance all the costs of life and have fun, while not feeling like our bank account is a death sentence?
Actually, it’s pretty simple. How else do we do everything now? Our phones, duh. Here I have for you the best budgeting apps I’ve found. No longer will logging onto your bank account be your biggest fear! No longer will you be desperately waiting for your next paycheck! And no longer will you feel financially helpless!
1. PocketGuard (Android, iOS)
When I first started out budgeting, I had a pretty vague idea of how much I actually spend or earn in a month. PocketGuard helped me understand the intake and outtake of my money. It projects the amount you make each month and the amount that you usually spend, keeping track of your money habits before they happen! It’ll also automatically characterize your spending into categories, give you summaries of your net worth and cash flow charts (which can sometimes be depressing). It also has some nicely-worded info tabs to explain all this stuff to people like me who don’t get it!
The new update of PocketGuard now allows you to enter a saving goal. Personally, I think savings goals are more effective than spending goals, because it’s easier to say that how much you want to save rather than spend. However, savings goals are actually pretty rare in the budgeting app world! The “In My Pocket” feature tells you how much you “have” in your pocket each day. If your spending is irregular like mine, “In My Pocket” can become more stressful than helpful at times. If you’re wondering if you can afford that expensive splurge item you want, you can add it to PocketGuard’s “I Want To Buy…” option and it will tell you if you have enough money!
2. Level (Android, iOS)
I recently started using Level and I’m in love! First, let me just say that above all, this is one of the cleanest and well-organized budgeting apps I have ever used. It’s uncomplicated, clean, and just really pretty. Like many other budgeting apps, Level links to your bank account and summarizes your money habits. By tracking your deposits, bills, and spending it will give you an average monthly spending amount. Then, you can set your spending budget based on that average, choosing how much you would like to save each month, allowing you to build your wealth! It will then tell you how much you have left for the month and the maximum you can spend each day to maintain on goal.
One of my favorite Level features is “Don’t Counts,” which gives you the choice to not count an item that bought in your budget. As the app states, “Don’t Counts” are purchases that you bought from your savings and don’t need to be added to your monthly budget. Level also lets you used trackers, which are light categories for your spending, but much more personalized than any other budgeting apps. These trackers inform you of how much you’re spending on specific items and compares them to previous months. Instead of a pie chart, which is a popular layout for budgeting apps, Level integrates many parts of your finances into the home screen, making it easier for me to be like, “Wow, I’ve eaten out a lot this month!” or like “Okay, I’m on track for my coffee budget this month!”
3. Daily Budget (iOS)
If you’re not one to link your bank account or not interested in tracking every single transaction you make, I would suggest Daily Budget! This app is especially useful if you have many fairly consistent purchases. Daily Budget is based on three primary things: income, recurring expenses, and savings. You set your income, the purchases you make each month including your bills, and the amount that you would like to save each month. Then, it will give you an amount that you can spend per day. In addition, you can set up large expense options, so if you’re saving up for your flight out to Los Angeles (like myself) three months away, this app will automatically take a fraction of that purchase out of the amount you can spend each day.
4. Mint (Android, iOS)
Mint is a budgeting app for those a little more advanced (or at least beyond my level of personal finance). Mint keeps track of not only your cash, like the previous budgeting apps I have suggested, but your credit debt, investments, and property. Mint’s budgeting skills are pretty advanced, as it sets budgets based on your spending, but are adjustable as you continue to grow your wealth! Mint also lets you check your credit score freely and securely, an added bonus. It will also alert you of strange activity on your accounts, which can be helpful when we forget to check our transactions.
To be honest, Mint’s purposes go a lot further than budgeting, which can be great. However, this can also be overwhelming when you are looking to just budget. Basically, I’m really looking forward to using this app when I’m 30.
Whether you’re a brand new adult or have been in the game for a while, I genuinely recommend trying to work one of these apps – it doesn’t really matter which – into your financial workflow. It’s a great feeling to be able to say yes to going to dinner with your friends without feeling nervous or guilty. You don’t have to wait until your paycheck to buy things because you’ll know how to evenly distribute your money. Don’t count your own money. Let these apps do it for you.