Recently, we wrote about budget apps to keep track of your finances, their advantages, and the basics about how to get them. Here, we will answer the last question: Which one is the best? And the answer? It depends.
We will help you figure out which is the best, based on your needs and willingness to use it.
First of all, synced or not?
If you have a bank account, keep reading. If not, check out our review of apps that don’t sync, which we also think are better for beginners.
Apps synced with your bank account
Imagine buying groceries with your debit card and that $25 expense from Save Mart automatically appears in your budgeting app. Cool, right? This is the main advantage of synced apps. With other apps, you’d have to type the expense into the app yourself.
A disadvantage is that setting up a synced app is not quite as simple as setting up the manual apps. But if you love budgeting and the idea of the sync, it will be worth it.
Let’s review some options!
Mint – App store score: 4.8 stars (out of 5)
Excellent if… You are looking for a very complete, easy and free app where you can control all your credit accounts. Perfect for all levels: Beginners can simply manage their budget and receive alerts. Pros can measure the efficiency of their investments. Mint offers a lot of useful tools (but not all of them are free).
Pros and main features
- Mint can connect your bank accounts, credit accounts, loan accounts, retirement plans and even investments in one place. You can:
- Track your budget
- Track the performance of your investments
- Categorize your expenses (i.e. shopping, restaurants, holidays…)
- Set up alerts by text message or email when payments are due and account balances are low
- And even check your monthly credit score
- The app also offers tips and suggestions on how to save money and set goals, and will send weekly summaries by email.
Mint has some problems with syncing transactions in real time and issues with automatically categorizing your expenses (for example, you might make a health insurance payment that goes automatically into the “shopping folder” instead of “Health and fitness folder”.)
Since it is a free app, you will receive ads related to credit card or financial offers according to your profile.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) – App store score: 4.1
Excellent if… You are purely focused on budgeting: Income &amp; expense categorization, bill management and goal settings. It offers a very visual dashboard, making its use crystal clear, but it is not free.
Pros and main features
YNAB keeps track of your net worth (incomes, expenses and bills). It classifies them and synchronizes with your bank accounts more efficiently than MINT. You can set goals and it gives you predictions and suggestions. Simple to use because of its simplicity of tools.
YNAB also offers a lot of workshops online to improve your family finance.
It has no credit score monitoring or investment features. Customer service is only offered by chat; there is no email or phone number. You will pay annually ($7/month).
CLARITY MONEY – App store score: 4.7
Excellent if… You want tools that directly “take action” on your behalf: You can transfer money between accounts, cancel unwanted subscriptions (i.e. Cable company, Spotify or Netflix) or find better deals through this app.
Pros and main features
Clarity Money is perfect if you want their special and unique tools. They will sync bills of several services (credit, debit, bank, etc.) and are able to cancel unwanted charges (or even find lower prices) on your behalf. Want to reduce your cable bills? Maybe they can help!
Other nice features are the possibility to
- Transfer money between your accounts
- Create a saving account (federally insured) where they deduct what you want and when you want periodically for personal goals
- Get your credit score (You have to give them your SSN and date of birth)
This is not the best app for budgeting since it has very limited features and only tracks fixed payments but not variable ones. It does not offer customizable categorizations or an alert system either.
It definitely can help you to save money, but they do charge for that service when they find savings.
It is free. That means that, like Mint, you will receive ads related to credit cards.
After this fast review, now it is your turn to choose the one that fits better with your needs!
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The information in this site, including any third-party content and opinions, is for educational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal, tax, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Oportun product or service to your unique circumstances. Contact your independent financial advisor for advice on your personal situation.