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7 Best Budget Apps in 2021 • Free or Cheap • Benzinga

7 Best Budget Apps in 2021 • Free or Cheap • Benzinga

If you’re looking for the best budget app, you know you can choose from an endless number of options available for download. But which ones warrant space on your phone? Budgeting software has to bring more perks than just organizing your personal finances to make our list. The best budget app takes into account the way you live and your financial situation in order to take up your precious phone space.

We’ve compiled a list to help you decide which budgeting software fits your needs, along with some additional tips to help you identify a good budget app when you see one.

The Best Budget Apps:

6 Best Budget Apps

We compiled a list of the best budget apps based on the criteria above. Take a look.

Pricing

Fees range based on deposit amount and services used

Pros
  • Handle your portfolio, financial planning and spending accounts with cutting edge digital financial management technology
  • Panoramic view of your finances on display 24/7 using precise analytics and a dashboard that displays all your accounts together
  • Executive-level financial planning and investment management

1. Best Budget App for Investments: Personal Capital

Looking for more investing help along with your budget? If so, Personal Capital may be the right budget app for you. The budgeting software focuses on providing high-profile clientele with comprehensive investment management using a mix of human and robot financial advisors, all from the palm of your hand. Personal Capital works well if you’re an on-the-go professional who only has a few precious moments a day to manage your personal finances and investments.

Personal Capital requires a $100,000 account minimum. Financial advisory services come with a fee of 0.89% of total managed assets. However, for investors who seek hands-off wealth management and expert tax-loss harvesting in a budget app, Personal Capital offers a great choice.

What we love: Personal Capital offers clients a retirement planner to help you put your earnings to future use.

Price: 0.89% fee for managed assets

Platforms: iOS, Android, Web

Read Benzinga’s full Personal Capital Review

Personal Capital's apps on mobile, smart watches, tablets, and desktop. Source: PersonalCapital.comPersonal Capital’s apps on mobile, smart watches, tablets, and desktop. Source: PersonalCapital.com

2. Lunch Money

Do you make your money in yen, not U.S. dollars? Lunch Money can help you track your money in your currency of choice. It can even track cryptocurrency holdings as long as you link your wallet!

You can choose from 90 currencies and choose the currency you’d like to use to track your money. Lunch Money uses the exchange rate based on the date of your transaction so conversions remain as accurate as possible.

Ready to link your smartphone to Lunch Money? You’ll get a 14-day trial and after that, it costs just $10 per month and $60 for 1 year. After your 1st year, you pay $100. Get Lunch Money today.

Pricing

$1, $3, or $9 a month 1

Account Minimum
  • $0 for Personal Portfolio, Investment Account (Taxable Brokerage Account) and Bank Account
  • $1 for IRA and Custodial Accounts

3. Best for Automatic Investing: Stash

Stash has 3 tiered plans to choose from. Stash Beginner costs just $1 per month and works well for first-time budgeters and new investors.1 You’ll get:

  • Access to investing in fractional shares2
  • A personal investment account
  • A bank account3 with no hidden fees4
  • Savings and budget tools5
  • Advice and education
  • Paid up to 2 days early in your Stash banking account6

For an additional $2 per month,1 you’ll have the Stash Growth plan, which is better suited for saving for the long haul and investing long term. It comes with all the perks above, plus a Roth or IRA account, which offers potential tax benefits and personalized retirement advice.7 The last plan offered by Stash, Stash+, costs just $9 per month1 and may be better for families and knowledgeable investors. You’ll receive everything included in the Stash Beginner and Stash Growth plans, plus custodial (UGMA/UTMA) accounts for up to two kids8 and a market insights report delivered monthly9.

Pricing

FREE 30 day trial + $6.58/month

4. Best Free Trial: Tiller Money

Looking for the best free or low-cost budget apps for personal finances based on price, platform, customer service and software? Put Tiller on your list. 

Link your bank, credit card and other financial accounts so you can see what’s happening to your financial life. It takes just 3 steps:

  • Step 1: Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Tiller Money.
  • Step 2: Link and securely authenticate accounts in the Tiller Money Console.
  • Step 3: Open Google Sheets or Excel to customize your import options.

You’ll get flexible monthly and yearly budgets, free community-supported templates and reports for tracking net worth, saving goals, debt and more. You can also find automatic categorization, daily account summaries and weekly webinars. Tiller Money makes privacy and security a priority as well.

Tap into Tiller Money for free for 30 days. After 30 days, Tiller Money costs $79 per year — just $6.58 per month! Start your free 30-day trial today.

Pricing

Free for 14 days, then $8/month

5. Best Budgeting and Banking Combo App: Empower

Want to save more than ever before this year? Empower offers a budgeting and banking powerhouse with the most comprehensive set of personal finance features in an easy, modern interface.

Having trouble staying on budget? Empower lets you customize budget categories for your lifestyle and set weekly or monthly spend limits. The real brilliance is that the app tells you in real time how you’re tracking your budget so you know when to rein in your spending. Empower classifies every expense for you and shares a monthly report for real insight into where all your money goes. 

Want your money to grow faster? Enjoy an interest checking account that will grow your money far faster than it would with the 5 biggest banks in the U.S., all without the usual banking b.s. — no account minimums, no overdraft fees, no insufficient funds fees and unlimited withdrawals. Empower deposits are FDIC insured up to $250,000.*

Want to save more money this year? Set your weekly savings target. Every day, Empower studies your income and spending and automatically knows when to save the right amount of money at the right moment in time. The best part? There’s zero work on your part.

What we love: Empower is the whole enchilada, the most complete personal finance solution if you’re looking to save more. And even with all these bells and whistles, the app is easy and intuitive to use.

Budget App Benefit What we Love
Empower – Open an account Best Budgeting & Banking Combo App Complete personal finance solution

6. Best Budget App for Paying Off Debt: You Need A Budget (YNAB)

You Need a Budget (YNAB) offers a great choice if you want more control over your budget or need assistance dealing with changes in personal finances or overcoming debt. YNAB connects with your credit cards and accounts and imports all transactions into the budget app’s database. YNAB’s budgeting software encourages you to assign a “job” to every dollar coming into your account, helps you identify places you can cut back in order to contribute to savings and offers a dynamic interface that can quickly adjust budgets when a financial situation changes. YNAB helps you stop living paycheck to paycheck.

YNAB’s most unique feature is its “budget inspector,” which gives users more direct control over their personal finances, specifically plans for upcoming expenses. The inspector feature allows you to quickly see a summary of your cash flow and expected spending if you’ve saved enough for a nonstandard purchase and where you can cut back to make it happen.

What we love: The popular budget app has a “debt paydown” feature that allows users to watch the amount they owe in debt dwindle with payments.

Price: Free 30-day trial, then $5/month or $50/year

Platform: iOS, Android, Desktop, Alexa

Read Benzinga’s full YNAB Review.

You Need A Budget's budgeting software. Source: YouNeedABudget.comYou Need A Budget’s budget software. Source: YouNeedABudget.com

Pros
  • Inexpensive subscription cost at each tier
  • Smart, intuitive automatic investing strategies that utilize your spare change without leaving you cash broke
  • Retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s available for investment and management, which isn’t always the case with robo-advisors
  • Heavy metal debit card (maybe not the most important factor but still pretty cool)

7. Cheapest Budget App: Acorns

Remember when you were a kid and you’d put all your loose change into a piggy bank? Acorns brings this process into the modern era with a digitized twist in its budget app. Acorns is more than just a budget app, however — it’s a savings and investment tool as well. The app makes you invest your money before you even notice it’s gone, aiding you in diversifying your personal finances.

It does this by connecting with your checking account and rounding up purchases to the nearest dollar and funneling change into a robo-managed investment account. For example, if you purchase something for $1.75, Acorns will take the extra quarter and invest it for you. Perfect for mindless saving, Acorns is a good budget app for if you have a little money to invest but don’t have the time to commit to researching your investment options.

What we love: Acorns launched a new debit card that allows you to invest the extra change from transactions made with the card.

Price: Free for college students, $1 per month for standard accounts, or $2 per month if you create an IRA.

Platforms: iOS, Android, Web

Read Benzinga’s full Acorns Review

8. Best for Learning About Spending Habits: Digit

From texting with iMessage to scrolling through your Instagram explore page, apps on your phone work daily to learn more about your habits in order to provide targeted results. Isn’t it time this automation moved to your wallet? Digit just does this. Digit, free for the first 30 days followed by a monthly fee of $2.99, learns your spending habits. Digit considers your upcoming bills (including credit card payments), your expected purchases (based on your buying history) and the minimum you need in your checking account in order to put money into your savings automatically. A good budget app means you don’t have to do a single thing to save.

Digit works with your spending habits in order to learn what safe, yet significant amount it can put toward savings for you, without you having to put thought toward it. Digit can automate your personal finances.

What we love: Not only does Digit move your funds during the week for you, but you have unlimited withdrawals and overdraft reimbursement if Digit saves too much.

Price: Free for 30 days, then $2.99 per month

Platforms: iOS, Android

An overview of how Digit determines your savings. Source: digit.co

Things to Look for in a Great Budget App

Though every app differs, you can hone into a few key characteristics that the best budget apps share.

1. Fits Your Needs

Just like every other personal financial product on the market, a budget app appeals to a specific user. We recommend writing a “wish list” of every feature that you’re looking for in a good budget app and read app reviews online. A budget app can offer the following:

  • Some were created to appeal to hardcore organizers who want to label every one of their accounts and purchases.
  • Others take a more proactive approach and do the work for you.
  • Some budget apps aim toward helping consumers learn how to reinvest their money.
  • Finally, some budget apps work much better than others with foreign currency conversions. If you have friends or family members outside of the country that you send money to or you’re a forex investor, you may not have total control over your finances with every app.

2. Offers an Intuitive Design

An app isn’t good for much if you can’t operate it! Some budget apps may have improved compatibility with certain devices. For example, a budget app may not work on an iPad or another brand of tablet. Before you commit to a subscription, see if your budgeting software of choice offers a free trial version to play around with to ensure that you like its platform.

3. Plenty of Customer Service Options

Let’s face it. Sometimes technology refuses to cooperate. The best budget app understands this and offers a number of options to contact customer service should something go awry. Use your search engine of choice to research the customer service and tech support options for your budget app.

Companies that value their customers offer at least 2 avenues (email and phone) for users to contact customer support. If you are very technologically challenged, you may want to search for budgeting software that offers extended customer service options, like service in the evenings and on the weekends.

Choose the Best Budget App for You

The right budget app for you depends on what your financial situation requires. Are you looking simply to manage your cash flow or are you looking to make your money work for you through investments? Don’t be afraid to try out multiple apps on your search for the right fit. Promotions and trial offers appear on a daily basis so it’s worth it to take the time to find an app that suits all of your needs.

Want to learn more? Check out Benzinga’s picks for the best budget spreadsheets, the best savings accounts and the best personal finance software.

Disclosures

* Banking services for new accounts provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC.

1 Stash offers three plans, starting at just $1/month. For more information on each plan, visit our pricing page.  You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

2 For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

3 Bank Account Services provided by and Stash Visa Debit Card issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Investment products and services provided by Stash Investments LLC, not Green Dot Bank, and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value. Stash banking account opening is subject to identity verification by Green Dot Bank

4 Other fees apply to the bank account. Please see the Deposit Account Agreement for details. If applicable, your Stash banking account is a funding account for purposes of the Advisory Agreement. Your Stash subscription fee may be deducted from your Stash banking account balance. 

5 Money moved into a partition must be moved back to the bank account available balance to be used and does not earn interest.

6Early availability depends on timing of payor’s payment instructions and fraud prevention restrictions may apply. As such, the availability or timing of early direct deposit may vary from pay period to pay period.

7 Stash does not monitor whether a customer is eligible for a particular type of IRA, or a tax deduction, or if a reduced contribution limit applies to a customer. These are based on a customer’s individual circumstances. You should consult with a tax advisor.

8 The adult (or Custodian) who opens the account can manage the money and investments until the minor reaches the “age of majority.” That age is usually 18 or 21, depending on the Custodian’s state. The money in a custodial account is the property of the minor. Money in a custodial account can be used by the parent or legal guardian, but only to do things that benefit the child.

9 Spending Insights provided by Stash Investments LLC.

Benzinga is a paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser.

0 Commissions and no deposit minimums. Everyone gets smart tools for smart investing. Webull supports full extended hours trading, which includes full pre-market (4:00 AM – 9:30 AM ET) and after hours (4:00 PM – 8:00 PM ET) sessions. Webull Financial LLC is registered with and regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). It is also a member of the SIPC, which protects (up to $500,000, which includes a $250,000 limit for cash) against the loss of cash and securities held by a customer at a financially-troubled SIPC-member brokerage firm.

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