You can learn to stick to a budget, and even save for something special — if you have the right iPhone app!
Keeping track of your expenses is only part of staying within a budget. You also need to keep an eye on how close you are to your limits. Personal finance apps are great for getting an overview of what you spend each month, but budgeting apps can help you save. Here's a list of our favorites.
With HomeBudget, you can manually input your income and expenses, including which ones are recurring and which ones just came up this month. Plan ahead by entering a maximum amount of money you want or need to spend on specific categories, like car payments and going out to dinner. Then, see how close you are to going over budget with the graphic overview.
HomeBudget also has an extra special feature: It lets you sync your budget with others. So, the person (or people) you share household finances with can include their income and expenses and you can work together to stick to your budget.
If you want to work together with members of your household to budget and plan for the future, HomeBudget is for you.
Planning a budget is one thing, but understanding why you need a budget is another. YNAB does more than just help you live within your means: it helps you evaluate your lifestyle and decide which purchases are the most important on any given day. The idea is that every dollar needs a "job." So, you are asked to manually allocate every bit of your income to some budget plan, even if it is "Stuff I Forgot to Budget For."
Finances are divided by what is budgeted for, what was actually spent, and what you have leftover at the end of the month. As you work within your budget, you'll see that extra income roll over to the next month, which you can start adding to your goal fund to go on vacation or buy a new car.
If you are the type of person that never seems to have enough money at the end of the month, give YNAB a try. You'll need to register online before using the app.
Goodbudget uses the envelope method for budgeting. You can create virtual envelopes that have the monthly cost on them. Then, you get to allocate your income to each of those envelopes. When you've paid a monthly expense off, the envelope is emptied. The idea is that you won't be able to spend money that is saved in an envelope because you have already pre-spent it. All of this is done manually, so you have control over what goes into each envelope and what comes out of them.
You are limited to only 10 envelopes with the initial download, but for a monthly subscription, you can add unlimited envelopes, plus new accounts to budget and have access to five years of transaction history. The monthly subscription also includes the ability to sync with up to five devices.
If you like the idea of visualizing how you budget you money by putting them in virtual envelopes, check out Goodbudget.
With PocketGuard, you get to connect your credit card and bank accounts and manually select expenses to designate as bills. You can then gather insight into where your money is being spent and see what your monthly cash flow looks like. The "In My Pocket" feature gives you an idea of how much spending money you have today, this week, and this month.
You can also ask PocketGuard whether or not it is smart to make a purchase based on your average income and expenses, as well as the money you have at your disposal. For example, if you wanted to buy the new MacBook in Rose Gold, you could tap "I want to buy" to see if such a purchase would empty your pockets.
If you like saving, but also like making spur-of-the-moment purchases, PocketGuard will help you protect what you have and give you permission when you can afford it.
Mint is more finance app than budget app, but don't let that turn you off. I discovered shortly after I started using Mint that it automatically creates a budget for you. After you connect your credit cards and bank accounts, the app automatically creates a budget based on average spending habits. You can increase or decrease the maximum for each budget and add or remove categories. Income and expenses are automatically added when you make purchases with your credit or bank cards. Cash transactions must be manually added.
The only problem with this automated budgeting system is that it sometms gets expenses wrong. So, you have to go in and adjust a category manually every once in a while.
If you don't really need a budget, but like having one, just to see how you are doing, use Mint for the finance tracking and take advantage of the budgeting feature.
If your finances are so strapped that you must budget what you spend day-to-day, Daily Budget will help you out. Manually enter your income and recurring expenses, add a percentage of your income that you would like to save, and then each item is divided by the number of days in the month and added all together. This amount becomes your daily budget.
You can quickly see just how much you can allot for the day. It also shows how much you can spend tomorrow if you don't spend a dime today, and how much you can splurge on if you don't spend anything for two days.
Daily Budget is a fantastic companion to your budget and finance apps. It doesn't provide a monthly budget to stick to, but shows you in a real sense how much you can spend every day.
These are the budgeting apps we think are perfect for keeping you on track to saving money. Which ones are your favorites and what makes them special to you? Remember, we're talking about budgeting apps, not expense trackers. Share with us in the comments.