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10 Great (and Free) Budgeting Apps

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The holiday season is a time of great spending, which means keeping track of your expenses and sticking to a budget is incredibly important. Here are some free, top-notch budgeting and expense apps to keep you on track.

The holiday season is a time of great spending, which means keeping track of your expenses and sticking to a budget is incredibly important. No one wants to start the new year with gifter’s remorse after seeing how much debt they’ve racked up trying to bring joy to friends and family.

Enter the great age of technology and convenience. There are millions of apps out there and thousands for helping you keep track of your money. There are free ones and there are some that make you spend a little. There are worthless ones and there are worthwhile ones.

Choosing the right app can sometimes mean a painful period of trial and error, of high hopes and crushing disappointment and uninstalling all the useless, difficult or buggy apps.

Here are some top-notch budgeting and expense apps — and they’re all free. After all, if you don’t have to why spend a penny? The point of these apps is to help you track and reign in spending and there are plenty that do a good job of that without costing you any money. Some of the apps do have upgraded “pro” versions and some have additional features within the free app that need to be purchased.

Ultimately, it’s important that the app you choose has all the features that work for you. So see which one is the best fit.

Mint.com Personal Finance

Android (4.4 stars), iOS (4 stars)

On your Android phone (click to enlarge)

Mint.com’s app automatically tracks all of your accounts, credit cards, loans, etc., and lets you easily access it all from your phone. Plus, the app automatically categories transactions into things like Food, Gas, Shopping, etc. To make that possible, though, you need to set up your account details and set up a log in. Some people might not be comfortable with that, but the app is incredibly useful as you get an up-to-date look at your financial state. And the app is secure. Even better, if you lose your device and worry someone will get a hold of your financial information, then you can log in to your Mint.com account and easily deactivate the device access.

The app automatically categories transactions into things like Food, Gas, Shopping, etc. You can choose how large of a budget each category gets for the month and track your progress. When the next month begins, all the budgets reset for you. And since your Mint.com app is synced with your bank, credit card and other accounts, you don’t need to input expenses like you would with the majority of other apps.

If you have a tablet then you can see charts and graphs of where you’re spending your money.

On your tablet (click to enlarge)

MoneyWise

Android (4.4 stars)

This Android-only app was named “The Best Budget-Tracking App for Android” by LifeHacker in 2012. MoneyWise is an electronic checkbook to help you track everyday expenses and keeo an eye on your cash flow. The app lets you filter and browse by date, category or account and utilizes graphs to visualize the data for you and let you see your budget targets.

Unlike some of the other apps on the list, MoneyWise has no webapp or desktop component—everything is done completely on an Android device. For some people this is ideal, not having to get on a computer to get some functions or perform certain actions; but for others, would like more robust features that can be accessed via computer. It’s all personal preference. And even though it’s just the app, you can still export data to CSV or HTML to the cloud or your email.

Toshl Finance

Android (4.4 stars), iOS (4 stars)

On Android (click to enlarge)

Finances can be a bit boring so if you’re looking to make your budget tracking a little more interesting looking, then you might like Toshl Finance’s budget monsters. With Toshl you need to set up an account so you can create your own custom budget for a time span of your choosing — one time, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Plus, your data syncs to the account so you can switch over to your computer to continue budgeting. The website gives you access to more graphs and backup.

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Through the Toshl app you can set up repeating expenses and incomes to make the tracking experience easier and you can export the expense reports to PDF, Excel, Google Docs and CSV. The app also sends reminders for bills when they are due. And if you travel a lot, the Toshl app works with any currency and updates exchange rates daily.

For a subscription ($1.99/month or $19.95/year) you get added features such as multiple budgets, multiple monthly incomes and repeating incomes and more export options.

On the iPhone

Expense Manager

Android (4.4 stars)

On your phone (click to enlarge)

Another Android-only app, but there are two called Expense Manager — you’re looking for the one by Markus Hintersteiner, not the one by Bishinews. The latter is not very aesthetically pleasing and is reminiscent of looking at your bank statement online. Hintersteiner’s has a simple, bare bones aesthetic that can be easy and simple to get through and track your money. It’s still a lot simpler looking than most of the apps on the list, but that might be just what you’re looking for if you don’t want things like Toshl’s cute little monsters to keep you company.

However, if you want features like a pie chart distribution, statistics over time or income record, then you’ll need to pony up some extra cash. But the free features include setting a monthly limit, expense history, spreadsheet export, backup/restore feature and grouping your expenses by week, month or year.

On your tablet (click to enlarge)

Concur

Android (4.4 stars), iOS (4.5 stars)

On the iPhone

The Concur app is free, but it does require an account. Mostly, Concur is good for businesses because it’s an expense management service that lets you record, sort and keep track of business travel expenses. You can plan trips, photograph receipts and submit and approve expense reports all from the app. Plus, the app imports data from credit cards.

On the Android (click to enlarge)

Goodbudget

Android (4.4 stars), iOS (4.5 stars)

On Android (click to enlarge)

Formerly called the Easy Envelope Budget Aid, Goodbudget follows the envelope budgeting method, which follows the idea that envelopes or jars are visual aids to help reign in spending. The app gives you 20 virtual envelopes (10 for regular budgeting and 10 for annual/irregular budgeting) so you can record spending. The app can sync with multiple devices multiple people can work with the same budget, plus it automatically backs up data online.

However, there are certain features you can only access from the web: schedule future and recurring transactions; look at detailed reports by envelop, budget, month, etc.; and import bank statements.

If you need more than the 20 envelopes allotted, then you’ll have to pay extra in the app.

On iPhone

IOU Debt Manager

Android (4.5 stars), iOS (4.5 stars)

On iPhone

Everyone has borrowed from a friend, family member or coworker before. And just as likely, everyone has been in the situation where the borrower keeps forgetting to pay back or return an item. The IOU app keeps track of debts big and small, whether it’s money or DVDs, through the contact or account the user sets up.

The app includes debt sharing, partial payments and lets you set up email reminders. IOU won second place in finance category of Best App Ever Awards 2013.

If you go pro for $2.99 you get features like reminders, periodic payments, reoccurring debts, automatic sync and backup/restore with DropBox

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On Android (click to enlarge)

Check

Android (4.5 stars), iOS (4.5 stars)

On iPhone

Formerly Pageonce, this app is similar to the Mint.com app. Check imports a lot of the same data and keeps track of bills. The app can alert you to suspicious transactions, sends reminders when bills are due and sends alerts when funds are low or the credit limit is near.

However, many cool features are an extra cost. You can pay bills using your bank account for free, but doing so with your credit or debit card includes a transaction fee. Adding investments is included as part of the monthly subscription, whereas you can sync investing accounts such as E*Trade or Fidelity Investments to Mint.com’s app for free.

On Android (Click to enlarge)

LearnVest

iOS (4.5 stars)

This time we have an Apple-only app. LearnVest has a clean, simple design, lets you add transactions on or offline. Like Mint.com you can sync it to all of your financial transactions so the app can track and categorize every penny spent. Through the app you can set goals and monitor your saving with dynamic graphs that help keep you on track.

But even better, LearnVest provides a free 15-minute call with a financial planning expert. The app also includes budgeting and spending tips.

Manilla

Android (4.5 stars), iOS (4.5 stars)

On Android (click to enlarge)

This app from the Hearst Corporation was featured on the TODAY Show, as one of Money Magazine's "Freshest Money Apps and Websites," and as ABC News’ "App of the Week."

Manilla helps simplify and organize your finances, bills, accounts and daily life in one place and sends automatic bill pay reminders via text or email so that you'll never pay a late fee again. Like some of the other apps on the list, you can securely link all of your accounts to automatically see your balances. Plus, you can download, print, email and read documents and the app stores them all as well.

On iPhone


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