REVIEW: Budgeting apps

Aaron McDade

Budgeting is arguably one of the most important parts of living on one’s own, but it can also be the trickiest. We’re living in the digital age and there are hundreds of budgeting apps to choose from. To guide the many college students learning the challenges of managing money on their own, here are five of the best budgeting apps:


1. Mint – Since 2006, Mint has provided users with a variety of services to keep track of their finances. Users can check the balance of any of their accounts and keep all of their bills organized and in one place, with easy access to amounts and when the bills need to be paid. Users can also set budgets for themselves in different categories, from groceries to gas, and see how much they have left to spend each month. It is an Editor’s Choice budgeting/finance app on the Google Play Store, and it is a part of almost any other top 5 to 10 list for budgeting apps, in part because the information users put in their account on the app can be accessed on Mint’s website. In 2016, Mint claimed to have over 20 million users, with over five million downloads on the Google Play Store.

2. PocketGuard – PocketGuard, similar to Mint, is another popular budgeting app. It provides a simple picture of finances, showing users a summary of their different accounts. The app gets its name from the “in your pocket” feature, showing users how much money they are able spend over a given day, week or month after the app accounts for how much will be taken out for different bills. There is a paid version of the app that lets users access more money-tracking features, for $3.99 per month or $34.99 per year. Another of PocketGuard’s features helps users save on everyday bills. “PocketGuard looks out for recurring bills from phone, TV and Internet companies, for example, and helps you find a better deal on your monthly service costs. Not only does it help you track your budget, it helps you lower your spending!” wrote Eric Rosenberg, a finance and investing writer, in an article from The Balance: The 8 Best Budgeting Apps to Download in 2018.


3. Clarity Money – Clarity is like the other apps in which you can link your various accounts and get an overview of your finances, from spending over the last month to counting down the next payday. One unique feature of Clarity is its ability to find coupons and discounts that can help you save. This app also makes it much easier for users to keep track of various subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu or Pandora, see how much each one costs, and give them the option to cancel an individual subscription from within the app. Clarity helps monitor and reduce how users spend money overall, rather than just looking at where the money goes each month.


4. You Need a Budget (YNAB) – You Need a Budget, or YNAB, is another app that begins with a 34-day free trial, then costs $6.99 per month, or $83.99 for an entire year. However, if students can provide proof of enrollment, their free trial will be extended another 12 months. YNAB bases budgets off of users’ previous month’s income, allowing you to budget each individual dollar. “It’s built around a fairly simple principle – every dollar has a job,” wrote Euny Hong, the supervising editor at in 8 Best Personal Finance Apps of 2018. YNAB also provides forums and video tutorials, along with Q&A’s to help users learn about the features of the app from other users.

5. Wallet – Finance Tracker and Budget Planner – Another Editor’s Choice app on the Google Play Store, Wallet provides users with a wide range of features. Available on the Apple App Store as “Wallet – Daily Budget & Profit,” it gives users the ability to track their income, spending and account balances. Budgets can be set for individual categories like clothes or groceries, and if users stay under budget, they can choose to put the money saved towards larger goals. It also has an “emotional index” where users can decide if different purchases were “worth it” by liking disliking or staying neutral and can see how they rated purchases in the past.

Aaron McDade is the Jobs and Money reporter. Contact him at [email protected].