Table of Contents

Best Budgeting Apps for March 2024

The best budgeting apps provide a snapshot of your finances while helping you build a budget that complements your savings goals.

Why You Can Trust CNET Money
Our mission is to help you make informed financial decisions, and we hold ourselves to strict . This post may contain links to products from our partners, which may earn us a commission. Here’s a more detailed explanation of .

Maintaining a monthly budget is one of the best steps you can take toward achieving your financial goals. For optimal success, experts recommend looking at the big picture.

“Think about your sources of income, the predictability of your income, and the timing of your income,” said John Thompson, vice president of financial services for H&R Block. “Compare those income sources to your periodic and seasonal expenses. Design your plan around that and start to plan ahead as early as possible.”

However, tracking all your expenses can take time, which is one of the biggest reasons some people avoid budgeting. But you don’t have to do the grunt work yourself -- budgeting apps can help streamline the process. These apps have powerful software to make creating a budget easier plus tools that help you stick to your budget over time. Even better, many budgeting apps offer basic features for free or a trial period to test out premium features.

What is a budgeting app?

A budgeting app is a software program that helps you track your expenses, income and spending and draft a budget from the convenience of your mobile device, tablet or computer. Most budgeting apps sync to your bank accounts so you can automatically monitor your activity in one place. The best budgeting apps also provide snapshots of your financial history, help you make savings projections and assist with other goals, such as a debt pay-off plan. 

What you need in a budgeting app 

With so many budgeting apps available online, you need one that’s easy to use, provides a variety of financial tools and connects with external accounts, all at a reasonable cost. We started with a list of apps that have received top ratings from users in the Google Play Store and App Store, then narrowed the list based on these.

All of the apps we recommend have multiple levels of security to better protect your bank information. And most of them are free or have free trial periods so you can test the app before committing to it. Here are our top budgeting app picks for 2023, ranked based on CNET ratings.

Best budgeting apps

Budgeting AppPriceBest forCNET Rating
YNAB$14.99/month or $99/year (34-day free trial)Allows multiple budgets with customizable categories9.5
Intuit MintFree, but ending soonEasy to track bank accounts and personal spending9.0
GoodbudgetFree; $8/month or $70/year (Plus version)Digital envelopes8.8
FudgetFree; $19.99/year or $14.99/bi-yearly (Fudget Plus) (7-day free trial)Simple interface and tracking tools8.4
PocketGuardFree; $7.99/month, $34.99/year, $79.99/life (PocketGuard Plus)Unused subscription monitoring8.4
EmpowerFreeFree portfolio management tools8.2
EveryDollarFree; $17.99/month, $79.99/year (14-day free trial)Zero-based budgeting8.0
HoneydueFreeCouples management tools7.8
Simplifi$3.99/month ($2.79/month if purchased by Dec. 26, 2023)Combined account dashboard6.9
Data accurate as of Dec. 19, 2023.
Data accurate as of March 30, 2023.
 
YNAB (You Need a Budget)

YNAB (You Need a Budget)

Allows multiple budgets with customizable categories
9.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

You Need A Budget is meant for people who like to sweat the details. Its strategy encourages you to give every dollar a job, assigning all income to categories you set, such as specific bill payments and savings goals, to avoid overspending. If you want to save for a future vacation, you’ll need to set that as a goal and assign money to it every month.

At $14.99 a month, YNAB is pricey. There may also be a bit of a learning curve as the app offers more complexity in terms of organizing and analyzing your budget. The 34-day trial should help you decide if the monthly fee is worth another line item in your budget.

  • Links external accounts
  • Automatic updates between mobile devices and computer 
  • Goal tracking
  • Loan calculator
  • Spending and net worth reports
  • Expense and income categorization
  • Assign purchased items to separate categories in one transaction
  • Multiple budgets

YNAB offers a free year for college students and a 34-day free trial for all users, but afterward it costs $14.99 per month or $99 per year. 

Mint

Mint

Easy to track bank accounts and personal spending
9.0/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Intuit Mint is another well-known and highly rated budgeting app, and for good reason. It not only enables you to set your own savings goals by linking multiple banking and credit accounts, but it also offers free access to check your credit score and lets you manage your bill payments from one spot. Launched back in 2006, Mint is one of the original free budgeting apps, and it has a long track record of stability and security.

Linking the Mint app to your bank and credit card accounts is the best way to get started tracking your income and expenses, and Mint’s intuitive interface makes it easy to do so. Once your accounts are set up, Mint will create an overview of your finances and help you create and maintain a personal budget with simple tools for logging and categorizing your spending.

Unfortunately, Intuit recently announced that Mint will cease operations at the end of 2023. Intuit is encouraging Mint users to transfer their account data to Credit Karma, which offers similar financial management tools but lacks Mint’s budgeting features.

Learn how to download and/or delete your data from Mint before the service expires.

  • Link external accounts
  • Bill payment tracker
  • Personalized insights: net worth and budget tracking to identify potential savings
  • Automated expense and income categorization
  • Free credit score
  • Investment tracking
  • Subscription management

Basic: free; Premium: $5 per month

iOS (free and premium), Android (free only)

Goodbudget

Goodbudget

Digital envelopes
8.8/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Building a budget for the first time can feel overwhelming. Goodbudget utilizes the “envelope” method of budgeting, a decades-old financial strategy that encourages you to split your income into separate envelopes or categories. You might have envelopes for rent, bills, groceries, gas, nonessential purchases and savings. If you like the visualization of keeping your money in separate envelopes or compartments, Goodbudget lets you employ this method digitally. You choose envelopes from a list of predesignated goals and deposit money into them every month. With the free version, you can choose from 10 preset envelopes -- you can’t design your own. The Plus version will allow you to create an unlimited number of envelopes for $8 per month.

If you’re looking for a great strategy to stick to a spending plan, Goodbudget’s easy user interface, preselected goals and visually pleasing envelope method can help you create good budgeting habits.

  • Envelope-based budgeting system
  • Sync and share budgets
  • Goal tracking
  • Debt pay-off tracking

Basic: free; Plus: $8 per month

Fudget

Fudget

Simple interface and tracking tools
8.4/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Fudget is a simple budget planner with a catchy name. The bare-bones interface is a basic spreadsheet, so the learning curve shouldn’t be steep. The app lets you create a list of income and expenses for future goals and updates them as needed. There aren’t any graphs to analyze your spending, but if you’re looking for a tool to provide a no-frills overview of your monthly spending, Fudget might be your pick. Fudget neither syncs with external accounts nor allows imports, so all entries will be manual. 

There’s a one-time fee to upgrade, but you can use the basic version with ads displayed throughout.

  • Track income and expenses
  • One-tap editing and adding
  • Choice of currency symbols
  • Universal app you can install on any device

Basic: free; Fudget Plus: $19.99/year or $14.99/bi-yearly (7-day free trial)

PocketGuard

PocketGuard

Unused subscription monitoring
8.4/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

PocketGuard is another option that allows you to keep track of your spending based on categories. It’s designed to help you control your spending and focus on savings goals. Linking the app to your accounts automates the tracking process. The app tracks subscription services and flags potential money wasters to help you save. It also offers useful features that suggest lower-cost services based on your profile settings, thereby maximizing the money in your pocket that it’s keeping track of.

The free version offers a variety of features, including budgeting tools, spending reports and expense tracking. For just under $7.99 per month, or a one-time fee of $79.99, you can create multiple budgets, unlimited savings goals and a debt pay-off plan.

  • Link external accounts
  • Bill payment tracker
  • Billshark bill reduction suggestions
  • Transaction insights
  • Debt pay-off planning
  • Budget categorization
  • Savings goals

Basic: free; Premium: $7.99 per month, $34.99 per year or $79.99 (one-time fee)

Empower (formerly Personal Capital)

Empower (formerly Personal Capital)

Free portfolio management tools
8.2/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Empower is one of the only budgeting apps on the market with extensive investment forecasting capabilities. This app is perfect for long-term investors looking to track their investments, net worth and personal portfolios while setting and tracking long-term savings goals, like retirement. Empower’s charts make it easy to track your everyday expenses and cash flow month-to-month, while working toward long-term goals. It also offers recommendations for improving your portfolio, specifically with its Smart Watch feature that points out the best options to take advantage of your employer’s retirement plans.

  • Free budgeting and portfolio management tools
  • Link and monitor investment accounts
  • Interactive investment planning dashboard
  • Savings planner
  • Retirement fee analyzer

Basic: Free

EveryDollar

EveryDollar

Zero-based budgeting
8.0/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Popular personal finance speaker and author Dave Ramsey launched the EveryDollar app to help fans of his money philosophy follow the “baby steps” out of debt and toward financial freedom. Using an approach called zero-based budgeting, you categorize your expenses before the month begins, assigning all of your take-home dollars until there’s zero remaining. A recent upgrade has prompted some users to leave complaints about responsiveness, a complaint that the Ramsey Solution organization acknowledges is a problem. 

The free version allows you to create and customize your budget, manually track expenses and sync data across multiple devices. The premium plan will allow the app to connect to bank accounts and dynamically track spending plus give you access to group coaching calls with financial experts.

  • Customizable budget
  • Savings goals
  • Link external accounts
  • Custom budget reports
  • One-click tracking

Basic: free; Premium: $17.99month or $79.99/year (14-day free trial)

Honeydue

Honeydue

Couples management tools
7.8/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Merging expenses with your partner can be tricky -- and managing a budget together can be downright frustrating. But if you’re looking to build a joint budget, Honeydue makes the process a little easier. It lets you link all your bank and investment accounts you want to include in one app, then it tracks all of your combined transactions and savings. It also includes a chat feature that allows you to ask your partner about unusual or suspicious transactions. However, Honeydue doesn’t offer goal setting, just tracking -- so you can’t contribute money from any account toward a specific goal.

  • Combined transaction tracking
  • Bill payment coordination
  • In-app chat
  • Link external accounts

Basic: Free

Simplifi

Simplifi

Combined account dashboard
6.9/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards

Simplifi by Quicken is the other budgeting app on our list that doesn’t offer a free version. Quicken is known for personal finance software and has distilled its decades worth of experience in the personal finance arena down to a handy budgeting app. Simplifi targets users who have complex financial lives with tools that create custom plans based on income and expenses. Like most apps, you create and monitor your budget, track spending and link multiple accounts across one main dashboard. The app offers a helpful snapshot of your bank accounts, top spending categories, spending watchlists and historical patterns. The projected balances tool uses recurring transactions to estimate your balance over the coming 30 days. You get all this, ad-free, for $3.99 a month ($2.79/month if purchased by Dec. 26, 2023). 

  • Combined account dashboard
  • Link external accounts
  • Savings goals
  • Personalized insights and custom reports
  • Customizable spending plan
  • Investment tracker
  • Automated expense categorization
  • Export reports for use in other software
  • Spending watchlists
  • Projected cash flow

Basic: $3.99 per month ($2.79/month if purchased by Dec. 26, 2023)

How do budgeting apps work?

Tracking your income and expenses manually can take up a lot of time, so budgeting apps provide a way to keep track of your finances in one place. Most budgeting apps connect to your bank and credit card accounts and track your spending, bills, due dates and other key information. The best budgeting apps also have features that help you establish savings goals and create a budget you can stick to. 

Is a budgeting app worth it?

Budgeting is one of the best ways to get a handle on your finances. But getting started can often feel overwhelming if you don’t have a system in place. A budgeting app is a helpful tool to manage your money, but it’s ultimately up to you to make the appropriate changes to improve your finances. 

A budgeting app can’t hold you accountable at the end of the day, but it can help you stay organized and make a long-term plan. 

Is it better to pay for a budgeting app or use a free app?

If you can find the features you need in a free app, start there, especially if you’re trying to save money. There’s no need to add an additional expense if a free app provides the services you need. If you need more than a free app can provide, start with a trial plan to a paid app that will allow you to use the app and get a feel for it before committing.

What are the alternatives to budgeting apps?

Google Docs provides free monthly budget templates that are handy if you’re interested in a no-frills, basic system that’s easy to set up.

Some banks also provide budgeting software along with their digital banking platform. Capital One’s mobile app allows you to categorize expenses and create separate savings accounts to track different goals. H&R Block’s banking app, Spruce, has a check register view that allows you to easily monitor categorized expenses, work toward established savings goals and automate savings transfers. You can also take advantage of financial coaching or investment planning services. Some banks or credit unions, such as Alliant Credit Union, offer financial services if you open an account.

The bottom line

Making and sticking to a budget each month is essential if you want to gain control of your spending habits and accomplish your financial goals. A budgeting app is a great tool to help you with this. There’s a plethora of great options available, both free and with a subscription. Determining your needs and budgeting style will help you narrow down the best fit for you.

FAQs

The 50/30/20 rule is a common way to organize your budget based on percentages. With this approach, you divide your take-home income into three spending categories: 50% for living expenses and essentials (needs), 30% for discretionary spending (wants) and 20% for savings and debt elimination.

But keep in mind this budgeting method is unrealistic if you have substantial credit card, student loans or medical debt. In order to establish a budget that works for you, you need to understand your financial needs and goals.

Zero-based budgeting is a technique that requires you to create a new budget each month and identify how each dollar will be spent until you reach $0. With this strategy, you look at all potential expenses and expenditures in the upcoming month instead of making adjustments to a previous month’s budget.

Methodology

CNET reviews financial apps by comparing them across set criteria. We consider the features and functionality of each budgeting app, including the user experience, interface, support options and overall value compared to the price. We also evaluate key features, including the ability to set savings goals and connect to external accounts securely.

Toni Husbands is a staff writer with CNET Money who enjoys exploring topics that promote financial wellness. She began writing about personal finance to document her experience paying off $107,000 of debt, which is detailed in her book, The Great Debt Dump. Previously, she contributed as a freelance writer for websites, including CreditCards.com, Centsai and Wisebread. She was also a regular contributor to Business AM TV, and her work has been featured on Yahoo News. Being a part-time real estate investor and amateur gardener also brings her joy.
Peter is a writer and editor for the CNET How-To team. He has been covering technology, software, finance, sports and video games since working for @Home Network and Excite in the 1990s. Peter managed reviews and listings for Download.com during the 2000s, and is passionate about software and no-nonsense advice for creators, consumers and investors.
Liliana Hall is an editor for CNET Money covering banking, credit cards and mortgages. Previously, she wrote about personal credit for Bankrate and CreditCards.com. She is passionate about providing accessible content to enhance financial literacy. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in journalism, and has worked in the newsrooms of KUT and the Austin Chronicle. When not working, she is probably paddle boarding, hopping on a flight or reading for her book club.
Advertiser Disclosure

CNET editors independently choose every product and service we cover. Though we can’t review every available financial company or offer, we strive to make comprehensive, rigorous comparisons in order to highlight the best of them. For many of these products and services, we earn a commission. The compensation we receive may impact how products and links appear on our site.

Editorial Guidelines

Writers and editors and produce editorial content with the objective to provide accurate and unbiased information. A separate team is responsible for placing paid links and advertisements, creating a firewall between our affiliate partners and our editorial team. Our editorial team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers.

How we make money

CNET Money is an advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We’re compensated in exchange for placement of sponsored products and services, or when you click on certain links posted on our site. Therefore, this compensation may impact where and in what order affiliate links appear within advertising units. While we strive to provide a wide range of products and services, CNET Money does not include information about every financial or credit product or service.