Learning to live on a budget is a must if you want to pay down debt, save money or work towards other financial goals. One in three Americans say they regularly prepare a household budget and 32% of them are using the Internet to keep tabs on their spending.
If you’ve been struggling to get on the budgeting bandwagon, all you really may need is a change in your approach. Putting these budgeting apps to work can take some of the hassle out of managing your money.
Mint is a perennial favorite among savvy budgeters who don’t want to spend a lot of time juggling complicated spreadsheets. The app is free to download for Android and iPhone users and it’s a breeze to use. You simply link up your bank and credit card accounts and the app automatically records what you’re spending each day. That makes it easy to see at a glance where your money’s going.
You can use Mint to set up your monthly budget with customizable categories and its design allows you to record cash transactions so nothing is slipping through the cracks. Mint lets you set up spending goals, which comes in handy if you’re saving for a big purchase or socking away money for a down payment on a home. You can even use it to monitor your investments all in one place or set up payment reminders so you’re never late, which could hurt your credit score.
The Digit app is relatively new but it’s already caught on in a big way and if saving is your budgeting Achilles’ heel, this app is for you. The premise is simple: you link your bank accounts to the app and every few days, it reviews your spending. If the app sees that you have a few dollars to spare, it automatically transfers them into a Digit savings account. Transfers are usually in the $5 to $50 range.
The app is free to use and there are no fees to transfer money in or out of your linked Digit account. There’s an overdraft protection guarantee, so you never have to worry about the app transferring more money than you can afford. You can even get a regular savings bonus just for keeping money in your Digit account. The bonus is worth 5 cents for every $100 you have saved. All in all, this app is great for anyone who wants to take a hands-off approach to growing their savings.
Keeping your spending in check is a big part of making your budget work but Level Money is a lifesaver when you don’t have time to fuss over your dollars and cents. This app is a mobile spending meter that tells you how much money you can afford to spending without forcing you to slog through different budgeting categories or detailed expense breakdowns.
Level Money is free and to use it, you just sync it up with your checking account. You plug in how much money you need to set aside for fixed expenses and your savings goals. From there, the app tells you how much of your balance is spendable and how much money you’ll end up with at the end of the month based on your current cash flow. It’s a no-muss, no-fuss way to make sure you’re always staying in the black.
With the right tools, even the most inexperienced budgeting newbies can master the art of balancing spending with saving. These three apps are the best of the best if you need a free way to manage your cash that’s not going to tie up too much of your time.