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The 5 best budgeting apps for on the go

Woman looking at the best budgeting apps

Creating and sticking to a budget is no easy task, especially around the holiday season. Fortunately, there are a slew of budgeting apps to help you track your spending. Download one of these on your smartphone and you’ll not only get help creating a budget, you’ll have instant access to your recent spending habits.

Need to know how far you are from hitting your monthly limit for restaurants? How about where you stand on your holiday gift budget? These apps have you covered.

Building and sticking to a budget is the primary purpose of all of the apps that made our list. But many of them come with other optional features as well, like the ability to check your credit score or save for a specific goal.

Here are our picks for the best budgeting apps:

1. Mint

Out of all of the apps on this list, there’s a good chance that you’re most familiar with Mint. This free app from Intuit has become one of the most popular and most recognized among budgeting tools. It can help you create a budget, track spending and pay bills. It even offers a free credit score.

How it works

After you connect all of your accounts, Mint automatically syncs and categorizes transactions to build a picture of your spending habits. You can set budgets and add spending categories. When you’re at your spending limit for the month, Mint will send an alert. You can also tell Mint your financial goals to get advice based on your spending.

Features

  • Automatically syncs with accounts to provide real-time feedback on spending
  • Offers advice based on spending habits
  • Free on iOS, Android

What it’s best for

The Mint budgeting app is ideal for those looking to gain more control over their spending and set financial goals. If you want to see a full overview of your financial health in real-time, Mint is worth a try.


2. You Need a Budget

You Need a Budget, or YNAB, is another name you may have heard in the budgeting world. This app focuses on accountability. It can help you create a budget, pay down debt, save money and live within your means.

How it works

YNAB won’t let you spend money you don’t have. As soon as money comes into your account, you decide what to do with it based on a plan. The app pushes you to allocate the exact amount of money available to spend in specific categories. YNAB automatically imports all of your transactions, making it easy to use. The downside: It’s the only app on our list that comes with a fee — $6.99 per month. But for that fee, you also get personal and educational support.

Features

  • Pushes you to live on the income you currently have
  • Offers an online instructor with budgeting basics and personal support
  • $6.99 per month on iOS, Android

What it’s best for

You Need a Budget is best for those who are very committed to getting their spending under control. If you need some accountability, and want to pay down debt, YNAB might be worth the fee for a short period of time. According to YNAB, on average new budgeters save $600 by the second month of using the service and $6,000 the first year.


3. Wally

Wally is a simple and intuitive tool that can help you manage your budget and finances. It allows you to balance your income and expenses while getting an overall snapshot of where your money is going.

How does it work

Take snapshots of receipts with your phone’s camera and Wally will fill in the rest of the info for you. There’s no manually logging expenses into a spreadsheet. Wally doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as some other budgeting apps — it’s a straight money management app.

Features

  • Offers in-depth expense and income tracking
  • Auto-imports snapshots of your receipts
  • Free on iOS, Android

What it’s best for

Wally is best for those who want a simple app that can track their expenses and income. If you don’t need the features that come with apps like Mint or YNAB, Wally is a solid choice for budgeting.


4. Pocket Guard

Pocket Guard offers a stripped-down version of your finances at a glance, making it easy to see how much money there is to spend at any given moment. It also automatically creates a simple budget and finds ways you can save money.

How it works

This free app connects directly to your bank accounts, allowing access to current transactions and your balance at all times. The home screen of the app features a number that represents the amount of money you have in your pocket now. If you want a deeper dive, you can also track spending in certain categories.

Features

  • Offers a quick glance of how much money you can spend now
  • Has the ability to track spending and find savings opportunities
  • Free on iOS, Android

What it’s best for

Pocket Guard is best for the individual who wants a quick view of how much they have to spend for a day. But it also serves well as an all-in-one bank account tracking tool. If you tend to overspend, Pocket Guard can help by quickly giving you an estimate of how much you can put on your card without going into the red.


5. Unsplurge

Unsplurge takes a slightly different tack than other budgeting apps by encouraging you to save so that you can spend. Its focus is on budgeting for big goals and reaching those goals through the support of a community.

How it works

Unsplurge is pretty simple. You pick a goal you want to aim for — such as vacation or paying off credit card debt — and log your savings on the app. Once you log progress, you can share with the community and get support. Unlike many other budgeting apps, it doesn’t sync with your accounts. Instead, it serves as an easy way to keep track of your savings for a specific purpose.

Features

  • Find motivation to save and spend on things you want
  • Get tips and tricks to stick to your goal from the community
  • Free on iOS

What it’s best for

Unsplurge is best for those who want a very simple, and fun, way to save up and budget for an upcoming expense, like a down payment on a home or a new smartphone. The app’s community offers consistent motivation. If you’re looking for an app that can help you save in order to spend on a goal, Unsplurge is worth downloading to your iPhone.

Mitch Strohm on LinkedinMitch Strohm on Twitter
Mitch Strohm
Managing Editor at PrimeRates.com
Mitch Strohm is a writer, editor and digital marketer based out of Nashville, TN. He has been featured in publications including Business Insider, Bankrate, The Motley Fool and Yahoo Finance.