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The Top 5 Personal Budget Software Apps for Your Family Thumbnail

The Top 5 Personal Budget Software Apps for Your Family

About the author: Lamar Watson, CFP®, is a Fee-Only Financial Advisor in the Washington, D.C. area, that works with clients virtually across the country. Lamar's work with his clients focuses on budgeting, employee benefits, paying down debt, buying their first home, and investing. Lamar is the Founder of Dream Financial Planning, a virtual financial planning firm specifically designed to help young professionals and minorities take control of their finances and fulfill their dreams. Feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation to learn how we use the The DREAM Financial Planning Process ™  to help our clients achieve their goals.

Forty percent of Americans spend less than their yearly income. But an almost equal 38 percent spend the equivalent of their paycheck. That leaves 18 percent of Americans left spending more than they make, meaning a good number of us (almost 60 percent) may need help with our budgeting and spending habits.1 

Problems with spending vs saving isn’t a new issue in America by any means. In fact, the stats have stayed fairly similar since 2009. But the good news is, today’s savvy savers are leveraging top software applications to help keep their family’s money on track. Below are the top five personal budget software apps you can begin taking advantage of today.


Cost: Free

Considered to be one of the oldest, most well-established apps in the personal budget software game, Mint is a free budgeting app offered by Intuit, the makers of TurboTax and Quickbooks. This app offers almost everything any family would need to start budgeting and staying organized with their day-to-day finances. You can use it to create a budget, track your expenses, alert you when a bill is due, monitor your investments and more. As far as budgeting, this app can automatically categorize a transaction you’ve made (assuming you’ve linked that account to the software) to help give you important oversight into your spending habits and understand where you may be able to save.

Mint features include:

  • Web-based automatic updates and categorization based on transactions
  • Investment monitoring
  • Credit checks
  • Automatic alerts for going over budget
  • Dashboard to view overall cash flow or breakdown by category
  • Ability to set goals and create budget subcategories
  • IOS, Android and desktop compatibility

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

Costs: About $7/month or $84/year

You Need a Budget, or YNAB, is embraced for its alternative approach to thinking about your money. This software uses an “every dollar has a job” method, meaning every single dollar in your possession is designated for a purpose - saving, paying off debt, investing, etc. The theory is, by accounting for every single dollar, you’re forced to spend wisely and rethink what your money is being used for. 

YNAB features include:

  • 34-day free trial
  • Bank syncing to connect all accounts into one place
  • Comprehensive progress reports and real-time updates
  • Goal-setting and tracking
  • Support and personal education from a team of experts
  • IOS, Android and desktop compatibility


Cost: Free, or $6/month or $50/year for Goodbudget Plus

Embracing the envelope system, Goodbudget creates virtual envelopes for your money, breaking expenses down into categories like gas, groceries, eating out, debt payoff, etc. From there, the premise is fairly simple. As you spend money in a category, you can watch the bar on a chart fill with green. If you’re about to overspend in a category, the app will send you an alert, giving you a chance to reallocate funds or think twice about your next purchase. Built with couples and families in mind, Goodbudget can be synced across multiple devices (the amount depends on which version of the app you’re using) to help keep multiple people aware of household spending.

Goodbudget features include:

  • A personalized, in-depth dashboard of your entire financial picture
  • Easy-to-use tools to set and track budgeting goals 
  • Sync devices with spouse, partner or family members (varies on which version is used)
  • Stores history for one year (or more on Plus)
  • Downloadable budget history 
  • IOS and Android compatible


Cost: Free, or  $3.99/month or $34.99/year for Pocketguard Plus

From investments and loans to savings and cash, this app is designed to sync all of your accounts into one easy-to-view personalized dashboard. As purchases are made, the app updates in real-time and categorizes each transaction to help you better understand what you’re spending your money on and where you may be able to save.

Pocketguard features include:

  • Syncs across all accounts, including cash (if using Plus version)
  • Personalized, automated budget built based on your goals, bills and income level
  • Certified SSL 256-Bit for security
  • Examples and opportunities for savings based on your spending habits
  • IOS and Android compatible


Cost: Basic is $6/month, Plus is $19/month, Complete is $59/month

Combining several common budgeting beliefs into one app, Mvelopes uses the “every dollar has a job” idea in conjunction with the envelope method. Through your digital envelopes like clothes, groceries, gas, etc., this app allows you to place every dollar into a category and keep track of it automatically. The idea is, once you’ve run out of money in that category, you aren’t supposed to “borrow” from the others. The budget will then reset at the beginning of your next pay period.

Mvelopes features include:

  • Syncing across bank and credit card accounts
  • Real-time budgeting and transaction syncing
  • Unlimited envelopes
  • Rapid debt reduction planning (for Plus and Complete subscribers) 
  • IOS, Android and desktop compatibility

Budgeting software can be a useful tool for a wide variety of consumers. For example, you may be very good at keeping track of your money and even written out a monthly budget for years. But with today’s tools, budgeting gets even easier with automatic transaction updates, account syncing and more. And for those who are ready to get serious about their spending, incorporating these apps into your money management system can be an eyeopening experience as you set a personal budget, develop goals and track your progress.

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  1. http://www.usfinancialcapability.org/downloads/NFCS_2015_Report_Natl_Findings.pdf

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