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The Best Budgeting Apps for 2023

Lyle Daly
By: Lyle Daly

Our Personal Finance Expert

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

If you constantly find yourself wondering where your money is going, a budgeting app may be just what you need. Whether you're looking for a budget app for iPhone or Android, there are more great options than ever. We've analyzed all the most popular choices and narrowed them down to this group of the best budgeting apps for June 2023.

The Ascent's best budgeting apps:

  • You Need a Budget: Best budgeting app overall
  • Mint: Best budgeting app for tracking a wide array of accounts
  • Personal Capital: Best budgeting app for investors
  • Goodbudget: Best budgeting app for simplicity
  • Pocketguard: Best budgeting app for over-spenders
  • Zeta: Best budgeting app for couples

You Need a Budget - YNAB

You Need a Budget
Best budgeting app overallYou Need a Budget

Bottom line: YNAB sets itself apart from other budgeting apps with its unique system of giving every dollar a job. It uses your current, actual income and requires that you allocate all your money toward bills and spending goals.

There's a greater learning curve and more time involved with YNAB than with most budgeting apps. That time commitment is, however, also a reason why this app is made for those who need to take more control of their money. In particular, it's excellent for people living paycheck to paycheck or who are struggling with debt.

  • iOS app rating: 4.8/5 stars
  • Android app rating: 4.1/5 stars
  • Cost: Free trial for 34 days. Then $11.99/month or $84/year.

READ MORE >> You Need a Budget review


Best budgeting app for tracking a wide array of accountsMint

Bottom line: Mint combines a wealth of features with an intuitive design. It allows you to connect all your financial accounts, including banking, credit cards, investments, and loans. By having everything in one well-designed finance app, it's easy to manage your cash flow and see where your money is going.

A budgeting feature helps you set and track your savings goals. Mint's personalized insights are especially useful, as the app will look for ways you can save more and alert you to any changes in your monthly bills. Since Intuit owns Mint, you can also track your tax refund through the app if you file with TurboTax.

  • iOS app rating: 4.8/5 stars
  • Android app rating: 4.5/5 stars
  • Cost: Free

READ MORE >> Mint review

Personal Capital

Personal Capital
Best budgeting app for investorsPersonal Capital

Bottom line: Personal Capital lets you put all your financial accounts onto its handy dashboard. From there, you can track your net worth, your retirement savings, and your current investments.

The investment and retirement planning tools are what makes this free app special. You can see at a glance what your portfolio looks like and how it compares to recommended asset allocations based on your target retirement date. Personal Capital can also save you money on your investments by uncovering hidden fees.

  • iOS app rating: 4.7/5 stars
  • Android app rating: 4.4/5 stars
  • Cost: Free to download. Tiered fees charged for wealth advisory services based on amount invested.

READ MORE >> Personal Capital review


Best budgeting app for simplicityGoodBudget

Bottom line: Goodbudget brings the popular envelope budgeting system to the digital age. It still involves assigning an envelope to different spending categories, and then filling those envelopes with money. The difference is that Goodbudget allows you to create virtual envelopes. Since you can enter everything manually, this app is perfect if you'd rather not link your financial accounts.

  • iOS app rating: 4.7/5 stars
  • Android app rating: 4.4/5 stars
  • Cost: Has a free and a paid plan. The paid version is $7/month or $60/year.

READ MORE >> Goodbudget review


Best budgeting app for over-spendersPocketguard

Bottom line: The name says it all for Pocketguard, which aims to help users avoid overspending. It lets you connect all your accounts so that you can track balances and transactions in one place. Pocketguard's spending reports are particularly useful, and you can easily group expenses together using hashtags. And while this is one of many budgeting apps that tracks your bills, it goes a step further by helping you negotiate better rates.

  • iOS app rating: 4.7/5 stars
  • Android app rating: 4.0/5 stars
  • Cost: Free for Pocketguard Basic; $34.99 per year for PocketGuard Plus

READ MORE >> Pocketguard review


Best budgeting app for couplesZeta

Bottom line: Unlike most budgeting apps, Zeta is designed specifically for couples who want to manage money together. It breaks down spending and assets into both individual and shared pools. Partners can send each other messages about specific transactions directly through the app, and it even allows partners to split purchases.

  • iOS app rating: 4.2/5 stars
  • Android app rating: 3.7/5 stars
  • Cost: Free

READ MORE >> Zeta review

How budgeting apps work

Budgeting apps organize your income and expenses for you. They can do this through records you add manually or by linking to your financial accounts and pulling the information automatically.

With the manual method, you're responsible for adding every paycheck, bill payment, and purchase to the app. Linking financial accounts is easier, but consumers often wonder what exactly is happening behind the scenes.

Budgeting apps that let you link financial accounts almost always work with a third-party data aggregator. Two of the most widely used data aggregators are Plaid and Envestnet | Yodlee. Here's what happens when you add an account to a budgeting app this way:

  • You'll need to enter your login credentials for that financial account into the data aggregator.
  • The data aggregator will verify your ownership of the financial account and link it to the budgeting app.
  • With your permission, the data aggregator will share transaction data from the account with the budgeting app.
  • The budgeting app will then be able to provide transaction and balance data from the account.

Information in the app won't be quite as up to date as information in the account itself. Approved transactions can take a little time (usually no more than 24 to 48 hours) to reach your budgeting app.

There are a couple things we should mention to clear up any potential worries. These data aggregators don't share your login credentials with budgeting apps. They share your financial data, but there's no way to make any changes to the account from the app.

Even if someone managed to access your budgeting app, they'd only be able to see your transactions. They couldn't make a withdrawal or take any other action.

Types of budgeting apps

Just like there are different types of budgeting methods, there are also different types of budgeting apps. Here are the most common types of budgeting apps you'll find.

Free budgeting apps

A free budget app is one that you can use without needing to pay any sort of monthly or yearly fee. Fortunately, if you're looking for the best free budget app, there are plenty of options available. Keep in mind that in many cases, budgeting apps offer both a free version and a premium version with more features.

A paid budget app is one that comes with a fee to use. This is typically a monthly or a yearly fee, and you can often get a discount if you pay for a year upfront.

Expense-tracking budgeting apps

Expense-tracking budgeting apps connect to your financial accounts, such as your bank account and credit card accounts, to help you monitor your spending. They track your transactions and group them into categories so that you can see where you spend the most. This is the most popular type of budgeting app. Many of the best budgeting apps are based on expense-tracking systems.

Zero-sum budgeting apps

The zero-sum system of budgeting involves finding a purpose for every dollar of income you have. These can be bill payments, savings goals, debt, and everything else you spend money on. Zero-sum budgeting apps are an effective way to see where all your money is going and avoid wasting it. That makes them especially valuable for consumers who are tight on money or trying to pay off debt. You Need a Budget - YNAB is a popular and highly rated zero-sum budget app.

Investment/retirement planning budgeting apps

Quite a few budgeting apps let you connect your investment accounts and track your net worth. Investment and retirement planning budgeting apps take it a step further, though. They have tools designed to help you monitor your investment portfolio, review its performance, and make sure you're on track to retire at the age you want.

Budgeting apps for couples

A budget app for couples is designed for two people to use together. These budgeting apps will usually let partners set up both personal and shared accounts. Zeta is widely considered to be the best budget app for couples.

Related: See The Ascent's list of the best credit cards for couples.

Features of the best budgeting apps

Budgeting apps offer a lot of different features, so finding the right app is often about seeing which features you like. Here are some of the most notable features of the best budgeting apps:

Cash flow tracking from Mint: Mint provides an easy-to-read view of your monthly cash flow. Your cash flow is the difference between the amount you've earned and spent that month. This is a quick way to see how much money you're saving so far.

Budget reports from YNAB: One of the great things about YNAB is its detailed budget reports. You can filter and analyze your finances by spending categories, timeframes, and specific accounts. For example, if you want to see how much you spent on groceries over the summer, you could use filters to view that specific category and timeframe.

IN MY POCKET from PocketGuard: PocketGuard uses your financial data to calculate how much money you have available after covering your bills and goals. Not sure if you can afford to splurge on a new gaming console? Check the IN MY POCKET section, and you'll see exactly how much you can safely spend.

Talk to an advisor from Personal Capital: After you've linked your accounts to Personal Capital, you can get advice from one of its financial advisors. They'll help you go over investing strategies and much more. This consultation is free if you link at least $100,000 in investable assets through the app's financial dashboard.

How to pick the best budgeting app for you

Here's what you should do to pick the best budget app for you:

  1. Figure out the main reason you need a budgeting app. That could be because you have spending problems, to get out of debt, to increase your credit score, or to manage money with a partner, to give a few common reasons.
  2. Decide which type of budgeting app to use. For example, if you're overspending, budgeting apps for overspenders or zero-sum budgeting apps would both be good for your situation.
  3. Download one or more of the best budgeting apps in the category you selected.
  4. Try out the budgeting app you downloaded and see if you like it. If you downloaded multiple budgeting apps, pick out the one you like the most.

Are budgeting apps safe?

Budgeting apps normally have very high security standards. If you want to learn about the safety of a specific budgeting app, look for a security page on its website. Trustworthy apps will have this information readily available.

To provide a few examples of budgeting app security, YNAB uses bank-grade or better encryption for all data sent by its customers. It uses a method called OAuth to access your account and transaction data without needing your online banking credentials. Personal Capital uses encryption that passes U.S. military standards and operates a security bounty program.

If you'd rather not link any accounts to a budgeting app, you can use one that lets you add transactions manually. Goodbudget requires that you record transactions yourself. YNAB and Zeta both give you the option of linking accounts or leaving them unlinked and recording everything manually.

How budgeting apps can help your finances

There are several ways that budgeting apps can help you with personal finance:

  • Track expenses: Budgeting apps show you exactly where your money is going. You'll be able to see how much you're spending in different areas each month. With that information about your spending habits, you can figure out whether you're overspending and what you need to do to correct it.
  • Set savings goals: Just about every budget app allows you to set savings goals. This is good motivation to put more money away every month.
  • Reduce your spending: In addition to tracking your expenses, the best budgeting apps also provide tips on how you can spend less. Some even offer features that can keep you from overpaying on your regular bills, either by alerting you if a monthly bill goes up or helping you negotiate with bill providers.
  • Improve your investing: There's more to budgeting apps than just a simple budgeting tool. Many also help you invest better through advisor services, recommended portfolio allocations, and uncovering any hidden fees you're paying.

The Ascent's budgeting and debt resources

The Ascent has plenty of free resources that can help you save money and pay off debt. Here are a few options to check out:

To learn more about important financial topics, make sure to explore our personal finance guides and advice.


  • There are both free and paid budgeting apps available. Most budgeting apps are either free or offer a free version.

  • Budgeting apps are generally as secure as the apps offered by major financial institutions. If you choose a reputable budget app and practice good cybersecurity, including not reusing passwords and keeping the app updated, your information should be protected. For added security, you could also pick a budget app that lets you enter your information manually instead of linking your financial accounts.

  • Budgeting apps can help you monitor your spending, set savings goals, and keep better track of all your financial accounts. The biggest benefit of budgeting apps is that they give you a clear picture of where your money is going and how you can improve your spending habits.

Our Personal Finance Expert