Your next step is to find the right tool to help you build out a budget and stick to it. And with so many budgeting apps and programs out there, finding one that works for you might be more overwhelming than creating your budget itself. We've taken some of the guesswork out of it — so the only thing you have to worry about is what to do with all the money you will save when you successfully stick to your budget!
1. Track Every Coin
Available for: Android
The first step in setting a budget is reviewing your expenses so you know where every coin is going. Track Every Coin allows you to record your paychecks or income, savings, company reimbursements, bill reminders, and your split bills. You can also use the app to add on-the-go expenses like a cup of coffee or meal out. Add a reminder for when a bill is due, plus you can log into the Track Every Coin website to see charts and graphs to help analyze where your money is going.
Pros: Tracking split expenses is a nice feature for roommates or couples who do not have a shared bank account. You can use it to determine what you owe for a particular expense or how much you are owed.
Cons: Track Every Coin does not have an iPhone app available. And while tracking is important to budgeting, the Track Every Coin app does not give you the option to set budgets for specific categories like some other applications do.
CoinKeeper tries to make budgeting fun with a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. To input an expense, you drag a virtual coin across your screen (as you would drop coins into a piggy bank) to categories like restaurants, clothes, or groceries, then type in the transaction total. If you stay on track, you are rewarded with stars. You can also attempt to reach certain levels: Thrifty, Hoarding, Consistent, and Prosperous. Additional features include in-app reports and charts to analyze your expenses and the ability to set personal finance goals and savings.
Pros: The gaming element of CoinKeeper helps make budgeting a fun challenge. CoinKeeper is also available in several languages and different currencies.
Cons: Most budgeting apps are free. If you have an iPhone, you'll have to decide if the $5.99 price tag is worth it for you.
Available for: iPhone
LearnVest was initially an online tool and newsletter geared towards women to help them become more financially savvy. With new tools like their free app, they have since expanded to help more and more people manage their finances. If you're familiar with the Mint app, LearnVest is very similar. You can enter your expenses manually or link your checking, savings, credit cards and other accounts to automatically track every transaction. LearnVest also has a SmartBudget feature, which gives you the option to create folders for each major spending area, set limits on each, and with built-in recommendations, identify your financial priorities.
Pros: LearnVest has an incredible offering of education and resources about financial management. The LearnVest Bootcamps, which include Retiring in Style, Start Investing, and Baby on Board, can help you learn about how to approach a new financial stage in life. Paired with the app's budgeting tools, the site and newsletter are like a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about improving your financial health.
Cons: LearnVest does not have an Android app. LearnVest will automatically estimate recurring bills and due dates, so if your bills change month to month, this might throw you off.
In a world where credit lines, overdraft accounts, or credit cards make it easy to overspend, simpler is sometimes better. Mvelopes is based on the tried-and-true "envelope budgeting" tactic of allocating a certain amount of cash in envelopes for different expenses each month. This tactic prevents you from being caught off guard for holiday gifts, vacations, or repairs because you budget for those expenses ahead of time. So instead of simply tracking your spending, Mvelopes is a more proactive approach. You can use the site and app to link your accounts and allot money for certain expenses, then automatically pay those expenses as money comes in.
Pros: Features like the Debt Center help you prioritize which debt to pay off first based on interest rates on the principal. You can create a debt envelope to dedicate payments to credit cards, auto loans, or mortgages.
Cons: The Mvelopes app interface is very dry. Its functions do what they need to do well, but if you think a friendlier or more fun application might motivate you to set and stick to a budget, this might not be the right one for you. And although the basic version of Mvelopes is free, some additional features cost money. For example, you're allotted 15 bill pay transactions per month. Your checking account will be charged $.50 for each additional transaction above 15. If you'd like to use additional features, consider Mvelopes Premiere for $9.95 a month.
5. You Need a Budget
The You Need a Budget mission is to help you stop living paycheck to paycheck so you can get out of debt and save more. To do that, you're introduced to the Four Rules: give every dollar a job, save for a rainy day, roll with the punches, and live on last month's income. By following their plan, you avoid spending spontaneously, are prepared for "sneak attack" expenses like home repairs or vet bills, can be both responsible and flexible, and stress less about money. The program claims the median net worth increase for a YNABer after one month is $200.
Pros: The YNAB interface is sleek and allows you to color code your spending. This might be a good app for someone who is more visual. Plus, YNAB offers free training and education courses on topics such as handling credit cards, making your budget work, and increasing your cash flow.
Cons: Though the app is free, you need the You Need a Budget software to use it. You can sign up for a free 34-day trial, then a one-time payment of $60 will give you access to the software after the free trial period.