“You have to lose to learn.”

Have you let your debt get out of control? Do you spend too much money eating out each week? Do you stare at your bank account in disbelief?

It’s unfortunate, but loss is a great teacher. And it couldn’t be truer when it comes to budgeting. No one completely understands the importance of a strict budget until they’re in a squeeze. So think of your losses as a learning opportunity and start budgeting. It’s a matter of diligence. It’s not always fun, and it’s definitely not glamorous. But it is getting easier with budgeting apps.

Keeping track of your projected income, recurring bills, savings and debt management is difficult. Fortunately, today’s budgeting apps can keep track of it for you. But the problem is there are too many to choose from.

Each app has different benefits and weaknesses. They are all broken down and explained here. We reviewed the five best budgeting apps so you can start on the path to financial freedom.

Because by using the best budgeting apps, you won’t have to lose to learn.

Best Budgeting App #5: Mint

With over 20 million users, Mint is the most widely used budgeting app on the market. It was designed by Intuit, the same company that created TurboTax and QuickBooks. Mint syncs with your bank account, credit card, PayPal account and any other account to track incoming and outgoing money. While most budgeting apps also sync with your accounts, users trust Mint because Intuit has a secure platform utilized by banks.

Mint helps with you with broader budgeting goals and with day-to-day spending. The app notifies you when your bills are due, reminds you about credit card payments and lets you know which purchases you can afford. Mint’s notification system ensures you won’t miss any big payments and can’t misjudge your financial situation at any given point in time. Mint is also one of few apps that can show you your credit score in real time.

Mint App

The app will notify you when you’re approaching your daily budget limits. Let’s say you went out for lunch and spent a large portion of your allotted budget. The app will notify you that you only have so much money left, and maybe you should just eat those leftovers from dinner. These notifications should remind you to be thriftier in order to stay within your budget.

Mint is a great free app for anyone looking to get a hold of their personal finances. It is a jack-of-all-trades in terms of personal finance.

Best Budgeting App #4: You Need a Budget (YNAB)  

You Need a Budget, commonly referred to as YNAB, is a very effective budgeting app. YNAB was started by a CPA to help him and his wife with their financial struggles. It worked so well for them that they presented it to the public.

While Mint provides broader money managing strategies, YNAB is a laser-focused budgeting machine. It does one thing and it does it extremely well. Not only does the app track income and expenses, but it also offers supportive insight into how to deal with financial distress.


YNAB is built on three primary tenets:

  • Give every dollar a job. This means every dollar in your account should be for a purpose. This rule is to disincentivize careless spending.
  • Embrace your true expenses. YNAB says predictability is the greatest way to combat financial stress. Identify your true expenses and start putting money toward them.
  • Roll with the punches. Unexpected expenses will come up. You will overspend sometimes. This rule states the importance of being flexible. Sometimes that means moving money from one budget to another, like from your savings to your car expenses.

YNAB has great functionality for budgeting as a couple. Couples can both use YNAB for their personal budgeting purposes, but they can also contribute payments to a joint account. It is a perfect tool to plan for weddings, houses and insurance plans.

YNAB costs $7 per month, but it offers the first two months for free.

Best Budgeting App #3: PocketGuard

PocketGuard is dedicated to help you manage your spending. It links to all of your financial accounts so you have a current picture of your financial situation at all times. Of all the budgeting apps, PocketGuard makes connecting to your financial accounts a breeze.

It presents your finances as a pie chart to help you visualize your budget. The sections correlate to how much money you’ve spent on travel, food, bills, etc.

Like many other budgeting apps, PocketGuard tracks your income and expenses. But the unique part about the app is it analyzes your bills and expenses and suggests ways you could potentially save. It searches for better deals on your monthly bills: phone, internet, insurance and more. PocketGuard not only helps you visualize your current financial situation, it actively finds ways to improve it.

PocketGuard is free and easy to use. You can even use it on your Apple Watch!

Best Budgeting App #2: Wally

Wally is a free app that does an excellent job of tracking your finances. It is a clean and streamlined interface with very few distractions. The app allows you to take pictures of your receipts instead of manually entering numbers. If you’ve tried to track your expenses before, but quit because it was too laborious, Wally is for you.

Wally App

Wally alerts you when your bills are due and when you reach certain saving milestones. It is also one of the few budgeting apps that is compatible with virtually all foreign currencies. Wally’s biggest strength is its simplicity. For keeping track of your spending, no app is better.

Best Budgeting App #1: Unsplurge

This is one unique app. It’s less of a budgeting app and more of a motivational saving tool. It’s perfect for when you’re saving up for a new car, house, wedding or vacation.

And you can set as many goals as you want.  You can save for a vacation, while also paying off your student loans. Under the “Next Goals” category you can queue more. The app reminds you of all of your goals, so you don’t put too much toward vacation and too little toward your student loans.


This compartmental and goal-oriented approach has proven to be effective. It’s like having a money manager and a life coach at your fingertips. But that’s not even the best part…

Unsplurge has a social component, so you can monitor your friends’ progress. Like many fitness apps, allowing you to “connect” with other users can be motivating. Knowing that others can see your progress puts the pressure on. Unsplurge also allows you to add photos to your saving goals. Rather than just writing “Trip to France,” the photo of the Eiffel tower gives you a little extra nudge.

Unsplurge also has a “spouse saving” feature that allows you set a goal with another person. You can see how much each person puts toward the saving goal. That level of transparency is the key to successful savings.

Unfortunately, Unsplurge is available only for iPhone, but it will be available for Android soon.

Action Plan

With all of the resources available today, there’s no reason why you can’t find a budgeting system that works for you. These five best budgeting apps have different features for everyone’s unique needs. No matter which app you choose, you’re taking a step in the right direction. And hopefully you haven’t lost too much money before starting a serious budget.

The journey toward financial freedom begins with a series of small steps. And that journey doesn’t have to be hard. The best budgeting apps make budgeting feel fun. Go ahead and start your journey toward being free of financial worry with help from the best budgeting apps of 2019!