Budgeting your money can sometimes be impossible to carry out consistently on your own. But luckily, you don’t have to. There are so many different options available to you when it comes to budgeting software these days that it can be hard to know what’s best for your needs.
Before the days of smartphones and mobile applications, you could count the number of budgeting options on one hand. But these days, there is much more than just Quicken available to you if you want to budget your money effectively. Mint is one of the most popular budgeting apps, but rather than settling for the most popular, let’s look at some alternatives in the hopes of discovering budgeting software that will perfectly fit your financial needs.
- Personal Capital – Best for Investing
- CountAbout – Best for Simplicity and Small Businesses
- Clarity Money – Best Free App
- PocketGuard – Best for Reducing Debt
- YNAB – Best for Zero-Based Budgeting
- Quicken – Best for Taxes
Personal Capital – Best for Investing
If you want to track and grow your net worth, Personal Capital should be one of the top considerations when looking for a new budgeting app. It offers many free tools that allow you to monitor your spending and watch as your net worth grows over time. While it can be just as good as most apps at creating and comparing budgets, Personal Capital really shines when it comes to investments. You receive a total breakdown of your investment portfolio, and Personal Capital will make suggestions on how to allocate your assets based on personal preferences that you provide.
One of the other nice features offered by Personal Capital when it comes to your investments is a fee analyzer. Paying fees for your investment account is something that is easy to forget about unless it’s right in your face, and the fee analyzer is a simple but useful tool that shows you how much you’re paying in your retirement plans. Personal Capital also offers its own retirement tools to help you reach your goals in addition to its budgeting software and spending tracking.
When on the website, you have the ability to create a variety of different charts to track your spending and your savings. However, you do not have the ability to create your own budget categories as you can with other software on this list.
If you are serious about your investing and have $100,000 ready to go, you can use Personal Capital’s Wealth Management feature. All of the features listed above are free, but Wealth Management is a premium service that carries an annual fee of 0.89% and gives you fulltime access to a financial advisor.
CountAbout – Best for Simplicity
If you are looking for a user-friendly budgeting experience, CountAbout could be the ideal solution to your budgeting needs. CountAbout connects to your financial institutions, including your 401(k) plan, and automatically downloads all of your transactions. Eliminating manual entries is just one of many benefits of the CountAbout app. Some of these features include the ability to schedule your bill payments through the app and create budgets for future months. CountAbout also has the ability to import data from Mint or Quicken.
Clarity Money – Best Free App
Clarity Money sets itself apart from other free budgeting apps through its automation and AI learning. Powered by Goldman Sachs, Clarity Money also gives you the ability to automate your savings into a Marcus savings account. In addition, Clarity Money gives you the power to cancel third-party subscriptions and also tracks your credit score. Other features include expense tracking, bill organization, and accountability. Finally, Clarity Money can track your spending in any area over whatever time period you select. When it comes to free features, Clarity Money rivals and sometimes exceeds Mint.
PocketGuard – Best for Reducing Debt
PocketGuard is perfect for those that need to ask the all-important question of “can I afford this?” Based on your personal goals, bills, and income, PocketGuard will create a budget for you. That feature alone could be enough to make you want to interact with this budgeting software. But of course, there is much more you can do with PocketGuard.
The software helps you to find new ways to save by showing you lower rates on comparable bills and directing you to high-interest savings accounts. Like most budgeting software available, PocketGuard connects to all of your accounts—checking, saving, loans, investments, and credit cards—and shows you a high-level view of your debts and expenses.
YNAB – Best for Zero-Based Budgeting
Zero-based budgeting is typically used by businesses, but YNAB (You Need A Budget) takes the idea of zero-based budgeting and applies it to your personal finances. The idea is that you create a plan for every dollar that you earn. The way YNAB describes it is putting your money to work for you. By allocating each dollar for a specific use, you end up not overspending and get a better idea of how much money is coming in and out of your pocket each month.
YNAB is an ideal option for those that are serious about budgeting and are eager to learn more about creating a healthy financial lifestyle. YNAB offers a wide variety of resources, including free workshops, budgeting advice, and app user guides. The software is browser-based but also features Android and iOS apps that can be shared and synced with family members.
Users get a 34-day free trial to get acquainted with the app, so there is no reason not to sign up for a free account and see if YNAB is right for you. Students that show proof of enrollment receive a full 12 months of the free trial. Once the free trial is over, the software costs either $84 for an annual subscription or $11.99 per month.
Quicken – Best for Taxes and Business
The old guard, Quicken, has been around since 1983. It is safe to say that they know a thing or two about creating quality budgeting software. While Quicken has been matched or overtaken in certain aspects, they nail it when it comes to preparing your taxes, and no other app on this list comes close. Quicken offers the ability to create Schedule D tax reports, track your cost basis, and run various business reports that help you simplify tax season.