5 free budget and personal finance apps for everyone

Spending money is sooo easy these days. Just tap or swipe, and then see your money charged away. Poof. But did you really see where your money went? After several credit or debit card transactions every month, it’s super simple to forget exactly how your money was spent. More poof.

It’s time to open your eyes. Money doesn’t just evaporate. It goes somewhere in calculable chunks that can be tracked, analyzed, and thus seen. Unpoof. The thing is, tracking money is kinda fun. Seeing where your money goes gives you the power to catch needless spending and increase savings. More unpoof.

budgeting apps

Keeping tabs on every dollar spent doesn’t have to be a drag or be a lot of work though. Your smartphone — the device you rarely part from — is the perfect tool to do the heavy lifting for you.

Over the last two months I’ve downloaded, tested, and budgeted with several free iOS and Android personal finance apps to help you get your money on track. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to budgeting or are experienced with money management tools — there’s an app on my list for everyone to unpoof all that poof. Promise.

HEY: If you’re new to budgeting, be sure to check out my popular series, appropriately named: How to Make a Budget. People say it’s fun. I say it works.

HEY Part Two: If you love apps, take a peek at 5 Free grocery apps that save you time and money.

1. Wally — iOS

I’ve been having my way with an intelligent app named Wally. He’s a good lookin’ fellow boasting a slick interface with user-friendly features. He’s also well-loved with budgeters across the interwebs because he tracks expenses, helps you set savings goals, and budgets brilliantly. You might want to hook up with Wally too ’cause he’s my number one personal finance and budgeting app pick.

wally app

One of the worst things about tracking expenses is entering transactions into your budget. Data entry is tedious. Wally takes the tedium and turns it into fun by using your smartphone’s GPS to populate the places you spend money. Just enter the store name and Wally locates all the retailers where you’ve dropped cash. I’m into it.

Another unique transaction feature is the ability to photograph your receipts to update your spending and expenses. Poof, data entry be gone.

Worried about hackers hacking your financial data? Don’t be. Wally doesn’t store your stuff on remote servers — all information is stored locally on your mobile device. Just don’t lose your phone, OK?

Wally’s money reporting features are simple to use and easy to navigate. Those with accounting or business backgrounds may find Wally reports a little too basic though. Another downside of this app is there’s no way to share your data with a spouse, and you can’t export your budget to another device, so it’s stuck on your phone forever.

Bottom Line: Wally is a free app without ads for iOS users. An Android version is in the works. With Wally you can build custom budgeting categories, set daily reminders to update fixed and variable spending, and update transactions in unique ways. Wally supports all currencies.

2. Spendee — iOS, Android

Spendee is a very simple budgeting tool, plain and simple. The app tracks money in and money out — that’s it! Spendee’s interface is pretty to view and easy to follow, so first time budgeters might like getting started with this app because it handles the basics without letting you get lost in the unnecessary extras.

spendee

With Spendee you can organize expenses by set categories, such as: bills, groceries, travel, and hobbies. Categories are not customizable, so forget creating something specific to your lifestyle. A plus is Spendee doesn’t require a third-party account to get budgeting, so all your financial data stays secure on your mobile device.

Bottom Line: Spendee helps you see where your money is going without any distracting bells and whistles. The app offers limited data export to a CSV or Excel file, so you can take your data with you to another app if you require more functionality in the future.

3. Mint — iOS, Android

With over 10 million users worldwide, Intuit’s Mint is likely the leading budgeting tool today. Mint tracks spending, budgets income, and helps you set financial goals all with an attractive interface. The real differentiator with Mint is how the app automatically tracks transactions by integrating with your online bank accounts and syncing your data into its own servers.

mint personal finance

The problem? In order to sync with your bank, Mint requires your bank card numbers and online banking passwords. Handing out your banking data is a serious matter, and disclosing this information could be in direct violation of your financial institution’s Terms of Service. Also, your money may not be protected if Mint were to get hacked.

mint security

TD Canada does not support Mint.com: “We can confirm that if you share your EasyWeb login access information with Mint.com, this will contravene with the terms and conditions stated in the Cardholder and Electronic Banking Terms and Conditions document.”

Wading through CIBC’s banking agreement may make you think twice about using Mint. It might also make you stop breathing because this important bit is one-freaking-sentence-long. BREATHE.

You are also responsible for any Losses that result from any use by a third party of your Bank Card or User ID and your Passwords or Personal Verification Questions, including, without limitation, use by a service provider that provides an online account aggregation service, which retrieves, consolidates and presents your Accounts for the sole purpose of allowing you to view your Accounts in one place, that you authorized (contrary to Section 7) to use your Bank Card or User ID and your Passwords or Personal Verification Questions.

Phew. Scary stuff.

Bottom Line: Mint is the market leader, but to use the service you’ll have to give Intuit read-only access to your bank accounts. I didn’t use the app because I’m a fan of keeping my banking passwords secure by keeping them in my head. Check out Mint.com helps you stay on track, but at what risk? for more Canadian concerns.

4. Toshl Finance — iOS, Android

Odd looking cartoon characters offer words of encouragement as you enter your financials into the Toshl Finance app. It’s a wacky world out there, and Toshl reminds you of it daily.

toshl


Besides marveling over a host of weird characters, Toshl users can track income and expenses, create scheduled expenses to minimize re-entering repeated events, set simple savings goals, and view basic graphs to see where they’re at financially.

Before starting will the Toshl app you’ll need to create an account at Toshl.com for storing your data in their cloud. If you feel this is a security risk, then maybe this app ain’t for you.

Bottom Line: Toshl is a cloud-based personal finance app that boasts middle-of-the-road budgeting features where you manually enter all transactions. Quirky graphics may be fun for some, annoying for others. The free version offers very basic budgeting and reporting tools for use with only one budget. Upgrading to the ‘Pro Version’ for $19.99/year gives you unlimited budgets and more robust reporting tools.

5. Google Drive — iOS, Android

Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is not exactly a personal finance or budgeting tool — it’s an app that gives you a way to access free storage space in your Google account. Since files saved to Google Drive can be shared with others, the idea is to use one of Google’s many money-tracking spreadsheets, or my really cool budget spreadsheet, to share with your partner or spouse. Financial collaboration is totally possible, people.

google drive

Google Drive syncs automatically into the Google cloud, so you can edit your files from anywhere — a browser, a desktop computer, or across all your mobile devices. If you don’t have an Internet connection you’re OK — files can be made available offline so you can still view your budget spreadsheet and edit away.

Tired of tracking a stack of receipts? Scan and save them to Drive, and find them through search later.

Bottom Line: Google Drive offers support for budget spreadsheets across platforms and devices. Recommended for purists who like cells, columns, and rows. Great for financial collaboration with a partner.

Happy money tracking, spending seeing, income counting, and budgeting. May you all go unpoof.

Question: What’s your top personal finance app? Share away in the comments! The more budgeters who chime in the better.

Love,
Kerry

Your two cents:

  1. Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet March 16th, 2014

    I downloaded Mint and it’s great for ease of use but I was told by my bank that they don’t support or recommend it. I asked if they ever will and they said likely not because they don’t control it so all of the banking info is given to a third party. I’m definitely not a fan of that

  2. Hollie Pollard March 17th, 2014

    Another one worth looking at for your American friends is Yodlee. This one works with the back end of many of the US major banks, and was out before Mint oh and yes I did work on their social media team for almost 2 years.

  3. Andrew Finnestad March 17th, 2014

    Yeah I installed mint and when I stayed the installation process, I stopped because they just needed too much banking information. These days, so many places are hacked like target.

  4. Marie-Michele March 17th, 2014

    I use YNAB (You Need A Budget), and it’s really great. The phone versions are really an add-on to the desktop software because they don’t do everything, but they do the job of figuring out what amount you can spend in each category and (of course) recording transactions on the go. You can also import from your bank’s transaction files (not automated, only in desktop version) but I don’t use that feature since I think it removes some of the awareness of spending money. It also took some time to get used to the “live off last month’s money” concept but they have great tutorials to explain. I seriously recommend it to everyone I know!

  5. Woofie March 17th, 2014

    I use Simple Bookkeeping for BlackBerry Z10. You have to enter the info but it has pull down categories and payees once you have entered them, they are there for your use. It also has a Scheduled section so once you load that with the time period, it automatically will put the expense or deposit into the correct account. It has Budgets, Reports etc. Very user friendly app.

  6. Chris March 17th, 2014

    I use YNAB and I have to say it totally rocks. As the previous poster mentioned, you need the Mac or PC version on your laptop/desktop as well, but you can keep your mobile device sun he’d automatically via Dropbox or manually via wifi synch. The Mac/PC app costs $60.00, but you get a 34 day free trial, a free downloadable shook that explains the YNAB method and accesss to free online instructor lead classes that you can take as many times as you’d like. Thanks to this App, My wife and I are not only debt free and saving, but this month’s paycheque pays for next month’s budget! The reporting is great and you can import transactions from your bank without giving anyone your banking credentials (why would anyone ever give those out?). All in all YNAB is the best $60 I’ve spent in years.

    Chris

  7. Chris March 17th, 2014

    Whoops! Sorry, autocorrect messed up my previous post. Sun he’d should read synched.

    Chris

  8. Phil B March 17th, 2014

    I concur with Chris and Marie-Michele. I’ve tried many different budgeting apps (including Mint and some others featured here) but the ONLY one that actually inspired a change in my behaviour was YNAB. It does not do automatic sync-ing with bank accounts – but that’s on purpose. However, the mobile apps (that complement the desktop software) are great and keeps everything in sync automatically. The only downside is it’s not free, but like the previous posters said, it’s the best $60 i’ve ever spent.

  9. erin quinn March 17th, 2014

    I was intrigued by your article, mostly the Wally app. BUT iTunes has it being created in 2014 and not enough raters to rate it. How did you come to the decision to recommend this app. Actually any of the ones mentioned in your article seem to have some safety, privacy problem or require more than a smart phone. What’s up?

  10. Colleen Andrews March 17th, 2014

    I love Goodbudget.com, formerly Easy Envelope Budgeting Aid (EEBA). No need to enter banking info, just your budget. Free version gives you 20 free envelopes (categories). Android, iOS, and web, with automatic syncing.

  11. Jessica March 18th, 2014

    I really didn’t like Spendee. It’s too hard to use without being able to choose your own categories. I use pen and paper, simplest system ever!

  12. Greg March 18th, 2014

    I also use YNAB. I have tried some of the others mentioned, but YNAB is the only one I have been able to stick with. They have great user forums where you can ask questions as well as free online courses.

  13. Jen March 20th, 2014

    Does anyone have any experience using the Quicken 2014 Mobile app? I’ve been on Quicken for years and would love to move to a more mobile solution without exposing myself to more risk of my personal information being stolen. Namely – I don’t like the sound of Mint for that reason.

  14. Luxcanuck March 22nd, 2014

    YNAB (You Need A Budget) is the BEST. I was a Quicken person for many years but got frustrated using it on my Mac. YNAB is easy to use, well-supported by friendly, real people, has a beautiful graphic interface, and the mobile app for entering data on the go is the easiest, most convenient thing ever. Love the concept and the company–wish I could work for them!

  15. Julie March 23rd, 2014

    I also love YNAB. Although it’s not free (60.00) I think it is worth the one time expense. I love the free online classes they have to show you how to make the best of it. Also they have a fully functioning trial version free for 34 days to test it out.

  16. Natasha March 24th, 2014

    I have come across an awesome website for managing finances: http://www.lifebythepie.com
    Like others it isn’t free but at $4.99 for an annual subscription it is worth every penny, there is also an app available called daily dish that allows you to track everyday expenses (it only cost $1.99)
    For me this is a realistic way to manage my finances rather than someone telling me how much of my money should be going to each category, I especially like being able to make ‘future pies’ or future budgets to plan for the future.

  17. ally April 13th, 2014

    hi great article! i’m currently using Money Wise App for android. It’s great too! Thanks for the advice ! :)

  18. Adrian Williams July 10th, 2014

    Try YNAB! I promise it’s one if thee best! Look into it. Add it to the list!!!

  19. Kyle July 28th, 2014

    I use the homebudget app. It wasnt free but I’m happy with it. It includes a family sync so it can be used on multiple devices both iso and android. Great way to look back over the months and years to see where the money is going in the organized categories and subcategories.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with a "*".

*

*

Technorati Profile