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If you’ve had difficulty budgeting your money in the past, you may just need a little bit of help.

Thankfully today there’s a lot of help to be gotten with the scores of budgeting apps that make managing your money a breeze. And some go beyond basic budgeting and provide other services, such as helping you reduce your bills, save money, or even give investment advice.

I’ve chosen what I think are the best budgeting apps to take control of your finances. Whatever you end up choosing, you’ll definitely get a better handle on your finances, and start building the savings that will eventually bring you to financial independence.

But first, take a look at this one-minute video on what a realistic budget even looks like.

Overview of the best budgeting apps to take control of your finances

App Best for Price Additional features
Personal Capital Budgeting with investment management Free budgeting, 0.89% for Wealth Management Has a Wealth Management service for accounts > $100K
You Need a Budget (YNAB) Getting “ahead” of your finances $84 per year Helps you to build or grow emergency savings
Money Patrol Learning your spending habits $59.99 annually, billed after a 15-day free trial Receipt and document capture, extensive alerts and reporting
Digit Automatic saving $5/month Identifies your spending patterns, and only saves as much as you can handle
Empower Budgeting and Saving $8 after a 14-day trial for first-time customers Automatically saves money to help you reach your financial goals
PocketSmith Budgeting calendars Free Basic edition; $9.95 per month for the Premium plan; $19.95 per month for the Super plan Cashflow forecasting and the ability to manage multiple income streams

Personal Capital

  • Price – Budgeting is free; 0.89% of the first $1 million for investments.
  • Compatibility – Web, iOS, Android.
  • Unique features – Fee analyzer.

The basic premise of Personal Capital is pretty straightforward: link up your bank account, and the app tracks your spending. Your results are displayed in easy-to-read charts.

But what I like about Personal Capital is the fee analyzer. It can be easy for lender fees to eat into anything you earn. This is especially true if you invest. Personal Capital lets me see all that at a glance so that I can constantly look for ways to reduce what I’m paying.

That’s not the only chart you’ll get, though (nerds like me, rejoice!). You can also monitor your net worth, see how well you’re staying on budget, and keep an eye on how close you’re getting towards your retirement goals. 

If you want complete investment management and you have a minimum of $100,000 to invest, Personal Capital also offers its Wealth Management plan, which is a premium service that has an annual fee of 0.89%. With Wealth Management, you have regular access to a financial advisor.

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Learn more about Personal Capital or read our full review.

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

  • 11 Best Budgeting Apps To Take Control Of Your Finances - YNABPrice – $11.99 per month or $84 per year.
  • Compatibility – Web, iOS, Android.
  • Unique features – Spend tracking, emergency padding.

Living from paycheck to paycheck poses a very important challenge. What happens if an unexpected emergency drains your checking account?

That’s where You Need a Budget (YNAB) comes in. More than a budgeting app, this tool helps you set a monthly budget in a way that actually teaches you about money management. 

When you sign up for YNAB, you’ll answer some questions about your monthly expenses and financial goals. You’ll also link to a bank account. This part is optional, but I like to have my spending automatically tracked. I just don’t have time to manually input everything I spend each day.

Once it’s all set up, you can track your spending in each category to see how well you’re staying on target, as well as pull reports for a more specialized view.

Learn more about You Need a Budget or read our full review.

Money Patrol

  • 11 Best Budgeting Apps To Take Control Of Your Finances - Money PatrolPrice – $59.99 per year.
  • Compatibility – Web, iOS, Android.
  • Unique features – Spending and account alerts.

Money Patrol has similar features to other budgeting apps: link to your bank account to track transactions, set and manage budgets, and keep an eye on your investments. You’ll be able to monitor your progress on your dashboard to gain insight into your spending habits.

BUT, MoneyPatrol doesn’t just monitor your spending and help you stay on budget. The app is also backed by technology that automatically looks for ways you can improve your personal finance. These insights can be a great way to learn better financial habits that stay with you for a lifetime.

The feature that I, personally, really appreciate about Money Patrol is the alerts. You can set things up so that you’re notified if there are suspicious charges or large transactions coming through. You can also be alerted if you’re starting to reach the limit you’ve set for a certain budget category.

Money Patrol also offers more supported account types than most of the other apps on this list. You can track your student loans, business accounts, investments, mortgages, and even some types of gift cards. This allows you to see details on all your accounts in one convenient dashboard.

Learn more about Money Patrol or read our full review.

Digit

  • 11 Best Budgeting Apps To Take Control Of Your Finances - DigitPrice – $5 per month.
  • Compatibility – Web, iOS, Android.
  • Unique features – Automatic savings powered by algorithms.

If saving money for the future is your goal, Digit is a budgeting app you’ll want to consider. This app takes automatic savings beyond what you typically see, using technology to help you set some money aside.

With Digit, all I had to do was put in my goals and link to my bank account, and then start spending as I normally would. The app moves small amounts of money to your savings when you’re least likely to notice it which I can really appreciate. Over time, the algorithms learn more about you, making this process even more accurate.

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Instead of budgeting your expenses each month, as you would with other apps, you’re inputting the amount you need to save for each of your wish list items. You can set separate goals and have Digit gradually chip away at them by moving money over.

Digit can also help with those debts you need to pay off. Simply move money into a fund that you use to pay off your credit cards or student loans, or even a fund that helps you bulk up your investment account.

Learn more about Digit or read our full review.

Empower

  • The Best Personal Finance Apps - EmpowerPrice – $8 per month; no fees for checking.
  • Compatibility – iOS, Android.
  • Unique features – Cash advances from $25 to $250^.

^ Eligibility requirements apply.

Sometimes, no matter how well you budget, you need a little extra money to get to payday. Empower steps in to help with that, issuing you a $250 advance with no interest. The money is just taken out of your next paycheck.

What sets Empower apart for me is that you get a debit card with your account. When you make qualifying purchases, you’ll earn 10% cash back at qualifying retailers (yes, 10%!). The offers are customized to your spending habits so, over time, you’ll save even more.

Empower’s budgeting feature comes in the form of reports you can pull each month that show where you’re spending. You’ll be able to see your income, expenses, and savings across all the accounts you have linked. You can also set monthly spending limits to keep yourself in check.

To help you set money aside, Empower has an autosave feature that’s based on your spending habits. Each week, Empower makes up to four transfers to your savings account in small amounts as it looks like you can afford them. Over time, your savings will grow without you having to make any extra efforts to get it there.

Learn more about Empower or read our full review.

PocketSmith

  • 11 Best Budgeting Apps To Take Control Of Your Finances - PocketSmithPrice – Free to $19.95 a month.
  • Compatibility – Web, iOS, Android.
  • Unique features – Financial forecasting and bill calendar.

How you spend your money today affects your financial future. But it can be tough to see that on a day-to-day basis.

That’s where PocketSmith comes in with their built-in financial forecasting. I liked testing a few different strategies and watching how the graph changed. You can even test out scenarios – for example, if you skip your morning coffee and either invest or save that money, to see how that will pay off 6 months, 1 year, or 10 years down the line.

In addition to forecasting, PocketSmith also gives you a calendar view of your upcoming bills. I’ve found this type of layout makes it easy to see what I have coming up. 

Like some of the other budgeting apps on this list, you can connect multiple accounts and monitor everything in one place. This includes your checking, savings, credit cards, and loan accounts. As you pull those accounts in, your transactions are automatically slipped into categories to help you better see where your money is going. This feature alone makes PocketSmith a superior budgeting tool.

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Learn more about PocketSmith or read our full review.

Why should you use a budgeting app?

You want to make budgeting easier

A personal finance app is convenient. That’s why you have your phone attached to you at all times. Taking advantage of budgeting apps can make budgeting much easier, all you have to do is connect your bank account and most apps will take care of the rest.

Having an app automatically sort your transactions and remind you when bills are due is like having a personal assistant right in your pocket.

Read more: How To Make A Budget: Our Step-By-Step Guide To Managing Your Money

You need motivation

No matter what your financial goal is, it can be tough to stay on track. A budgeting app gives you an incentive to pay attention to your spending habits. If you’re the type who’s motivated by seeing results on a screen, it can really work for you.

You have a hard time remembering due dates and account balances

Some budgeting apps go beyond just helping you budget and track your purchases. Some can send you alerts when you’re nearing a category threshold, while others can alert you to upcoming bill due dates.

There are even some that will alert you to the fees you’re paying and negotiate certain bills on your behalf. All of those things can make budgeting apps appealing no matter what your situation.

Most important features of a budgeting app

When you’re looking for a budgeting app, certain features make some better than others. Here are some I think are important to help you decide whether the above apps work for you.

Budgeting capabilities

This is the most basic feature provided by budgeting apps. Each has a somewhat different way of going about the process, and the apps included are designed specifically to accommodate the many personal preferences of our readers.

Additional features

Most budgeting apps go beyond basic budgeting. Some will provide advice on debt and investments, others will identify unnecessary expenses, and even renegotiate existing bills. 

Synchronization

The best budgeting apps will synchronize your accounts automatically, making money management easy. Make sure you’re comfortable with this, though. There are some apps that will give you the option to do it manually if that’s your preference.

Price

We’ve included apps ranging in price from free to as much as almost $600 per year. The free versions may provide all that you need for your own personal budgeting activities.

But you may want to pay for a service that offers special tools and features you specifically need or want.

Ease of use

It does little good to use a budgeting app if it’s too complicated. We’ve naturally favored those that are easier to use on this list. 

Ratings by app users

Each of the apps on this list has been included because it is generally considered to be user-friendly by actual users on the Google Play or App Store download pages, where available.