Reddit Best Budget App

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After another round of testing, Simplifi by Quicken remains our top choice. We still recommend You Need a Budget (YNAB) for those who track every penny using the zero-based budgeting method.

Reddit Best Budget App

For some people, setting a budget is even less exciting than starting a (and sometimes fruitless) diet. For others, creating a spending plan gives them a feel-good dopamine boost. Wherever you are on that spectrum, a budgeting app can be a great tool to help you reach your financial goals. After another round of testing nearly a dozen apps, we continue to recommend Simplifi by Quicken as the easiest and most comprehensive way to see where your money is going and plan future expenses.

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For those who have a budget that forces them to count absolutely every dollar in their bank account, we recommend You need a budget (YNAB). It’s not as easy to set up and use as Simplifi, but if you’re the type of dieter to track every calorie, YNAB’s zero-based budgeting approach might strike the right chord for you.

Simplifi combines an elegant and intuitive interface with robust tools to track your expenses and plan future expenses. It also had the least banking connection issues of the apps we tested.

Most budgeting apps are either easy to set up but ultimately ineffective when it comes to money management, or so complex and boring that they’ll drive anyone away without a free week to examine their finances. Simplify threads the needle. It allows you to seamlessly synchronize your bank accounts and offers a combination of useful tools and an easy-to-use design that encourages you to stay within your means. Our favorite feature is the custom spending plan, which gives you an up-to-date dollar figure of what you have left to spend for the rest of the month after calculating your bills and savings goals. Simplifi is not free, but it is cheaper than competitors with comparable features. Plus, having some skin in the game can make you want to stick with it.

YNAB has some sync issues and a steep learning curve, but it remains a great option for die-hard budgeters.

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For a more rigorous approach to managing your money, a zero-based budgeting system — where you assign every dollar in your bank account to a spending category or savings goal at the beginning of each month — can be for you You need a budget (YNAB) is the best app we have found that supports this method or philosophy of budgeting. The complexity of getting the allocations right can take some time to really understand, but for those who are comfortable with this approach, the payoff can be huge: your brain is trained to spend less. However, in addition to the steep learning curve, in our tests YNAB had more synchronization problems with some banks. It also lacks some of Simplifi’s features, such as cash flow projections, desktop notifications, and live customer support.

Wirecutter senior writer Melanie Pinola researches and writes about home office products and technology, including our guide to the best online tax filing software. For more than five years before joining Wirecutter, he wrote extensively about personal finance for sites such as Lifehacker, SmartAsset, and MyBankTracker.

Writer Taylor Tepper has covered personal finance for nearly a decade, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fortune, Time magazine, Money, Bloomberg and NPR, among others. He won the Loeb Prize in 2017 for his work on the financial costs of mental illness.

If you want to live within your means and grow your money, the most basic rule of personal finance is: spend less than you earn and save the rest. (Or, to put it another way, earn more than you spend and save the difference.) It’s harder than it sounds, especially if you don’t track your income and expenses.

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The budgeting app is for everyone who wants to have a better management of their finances without having to manually count the numbers in a spreadsheet every month. When linked to your bank and credit card accounts, a balance app can automatically display all your transactions in one place – and usually categorize them for you and generate useful reports to give you a bird’s eye view of your expenses We know that many people are concerned about the security and privacy of these applications; more on that in a bit.

However, does everyone need a budgeting app? No. Using a detailed, category-oriented budget system like ours isn’t for everyone—and these apps have their critics.

In Slate, personal finance writer Helaine Olen explains why such a precise and accurate approach to personal budgeting can be wrong. The reason for his argument is that most people’s income and expenses vary enough from month to month to make a budget useless.

We sympathize with Olen’s argument and do not believe that everyone needs a detailed budget. After all, what does it matter if you spend $100 or $200 on wine this month, as long as you end up spending less than you earned?

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The budgeting app is for everyone who wants to have a better management of their finances without having to manually count the numbers in a spreadsheet every month.

There are two basic types of balance apps: trackers (à la Mint) and zero-balancers. Tracking apps offer a 30,000-foot view of your finances, show your transactions in real time, and require very little effort to set up. In contrast, zero-balance apps encourage a more hands-on approach, forcing you to account for every dollar you bring in (X amount for savings, Y amount for rent, and so on), but they tend to be idiosyncratic and expensive. We recommend Simplifi for most people because it’s a happy medium between the two. Track your expenses, revolving accounts, savings goals and earnings history to estimate how much you have left to spend each month in any category you want. Spreadsheet-based budgets (and some other budgeting tools) encourage you to create a large number of categories and assign a dollar amount to each, which is not only insufficient, but also likely to fail. (Ever hit with a big bill, like for auto repairs or a dental emergency? Things like that can throw your budget off track.)

This mix of approaches traces how Americans actually behave. Only one in three American households has a detailed, written budget, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, while about two-thirds of Americans budget in some way, according to Debt.com. (However, both surveys are from before the pandemic.)

The key is to choose an approach that you feel comfortable with and that really works with your lifestyle. Both of our picks offer a free trial, so you should experiment before settling on an option. And if you don’t want to use an app, we have tips on how to make a budget for you.

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Trusting us, linking our bank accounts and trusting our financial data to applications also made us nervous. As part of our research, in addition to reading the privacy and security policies of these apps, we reached out to the companies behind our picks and asked them to answer a series of questions about what we thought which were important privacy and security considerations. Includes:

Most budgeting apps use a third-party service to pull your bank details into the app; Budgeting applications only provide a means to read that data in one place. Third party services include Plaid and Envestnet | Yodel. These services have their own security policies and procedures, which make it difficult to evaluate everything. But the companies are well known in the industry and used by financial institutions themselves to present customer transactions in an easy to read way. They all say not to sell or share personal information – the same way your bank also promises to protect your privacy.

What if something goes wrong and someone can access your account using one of these budgeting apps?

The good news is that while the person will be able to see a list of your transactions, they won’t be able to move money or access your bank website directly. Your bank credentials are not stored anywhere in the budgeting application where they are read.

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However, you probably don’t care about your financial transactions being leaked even if this information is anonymous. That’s why we strongly recommend that you properly secure every app you use – especially budget apps and financial apps – with:

Keep in mind, especially with free apps, that the more services, features and “partner interactions” an app has, the greater the liability for data leaks. An app may claim that its data collection is anonymous or untraceable to you, but this is not really true, especially without industry oversight of these apps. This is one of the reasons why we don’t recommend Mint if you have privacy concerns.

Here are highlights of our candidates’ answers to our security questions and links to their security and privacy policies if you want to find out more

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