While your bank account may be short on funds, there is no shortage of personal finance apps to help manage your cash flow. Like personal finance, app preference is based on individual choice and need. But the best of all finance apps—regardless of the user’s financial goals—are simple, intuitive and powerful, making our money (and lives) easier to manage.
Mint (Free; iOS, Android)
For: the Hands-off Budgeter
Industry favorite Mint, owned by financial heavyweight Intuit, is an app financial advisor Stephanie Baker says many of her clients use for automated budgeting and tracking. Unlike most personal finance apps which require the user to manually input transactions, Mint connects directly to the user’s financial institutions for a low-maintenance look at budget status, spending trends and net worth. Other features include free credit score monitoring and personalized spending advice.
• Minimal maintenance
• Easy set up and streamlined user interface
• Frequent updates that address issues and add features
• Combines many options found in various finance apps
• Mobile app lacks many full-site features
• Somewhat unintuitive in categorization of transactions
• Inability to split transactions into multiple categories
Pocket Expense (Free-$4.99; iOS, Android)
For: the No-Frills Privacy Seeker
Bare-bones Pocket Expense helps budgeters track cash flow with an attractive, straightforward user interface. Manually entered transactions ease worries of users hesitant to connect bank accounts while creating a more interactive budgeting experience. A pro version ($4.99) removes ads and allows syncing across devices.
• Attractive, user-friendly interface
• Excels at what it does: budgeting
• Syncing option available (helpful for multi-user budgets)
• Manual transactions may become high-maintenance
• Limited reporting features
• Limited customization
Daily Budget (Free-$3.99; iOS)
For: the Money-Managing Minimalist
As its name suggests, Daily Budget focuses on day-by-day budgeting. A few quick questions about income and expenses and the app spits out a hard-and-fast daily spending limit down to the penny. Rather than budgeting individual line items, Daily Budget lumps expenses into ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’ categories and deducts the total from income, leaving a figure which may be spent at the user’s daily discretion. The app also offers a handy goal-setting feature that helps the user save a fixed amount over a specified period of time for big-ticket items. The pro version, which gets rid of ads and includes additional analysis graphs, expanded customization and PIN protection, is worth the splurge.
• Elegant, powerful user interface
• Unique daily budgeting may be more digestible for some
• Discretionary spending system offers flexibility, eases budgeting experience
• Does not sync with other devices
• Long-term budgeting not a focus
• Manual entry of transactions required
Personal Capital (Free; iOS, Android)
For: the In-Depth Investor
Personal Capital is a top-rated app for users wanting a more complete financial picture. In addition to cash-flow reporting, Personal Capital tracks investment allocation and performance and offers a comprehensive “Investment Checkup” tailored to the user’s portfolio. Like Mint, users link investment and banking accounts for automated, real-time information.
• Well-rounded financial outlook
• Minimal maintenance
• Personalized investment reporting
• Solicitation for investment services with no opt-out feature
• Lacks daily budgeting feature
• Lag in updating recent transactions