The 4 Best Expense Tracker Apps to Manage Your Budget

expense tracker

Many of us don’t pay much attention to what we save and spend on a daily basis. But tracking your cash flow is key if you want a good relationship with your finances.

Whether you want to pay off student loans faster or save for a trip to Europe, you need to monitor your habits.

Luckily, there are several free apps that do the heavy lifting for you. These expense tracker apps analyze your spending and help you work toward savings goals. Because these budgeting tools link directly to your accounts, you don’t have to input data day after day.

What to look for in a money management tool

The four expense tracker apps on this list stand out for their ease of use. All of them have sleek, user-friendly interfaces. So once you get started, it’s easy to see your financial status at a glance.

Additionally, all of these budgeting tools are completely free. You don’t have to worry about hidden fees and you can delete your accounts at any time.

These spending tracker apps link to your bank and credit card accounts. Because of this, they more or less run on autopilot. You don’t need to manually input deposits and expenses as you would if you were tracking your budget on a spreadsheet.

Finally, these apps use bank-level security and insurance, so your accounts are safe. Mint, Pluto, and Digit, for instance, are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000, just like most bank accounts. Level Money uses 128-bit encryption to protect your data.

4 best money management tools

Here are our four favorite spending tracker apps and how they take the effort out of budgeting.

Mint

  • Connects to your bank and credit card accounts to automatically track your deposits and spending
  • Analyzes trends in your spending habits
  • Sorts your money into preset categories such as cash, credit, and investments
  • Allows you to create personalized categories for your money
  • Shows you a weekly summary of your spending, divided into buckets like rent and utilities
  • Automatically suggests a monthly budget (you can adjust your budget as you go)
  • Tells you how much spending money you have left throughout the month
  • Keeps track of your bills and reminds you when it’s time to pay them
  • Offers credit tracking so you can see your credit score and payment history
  • Monitors any investments you have and allows you to compare your portfolio to market benchmarks
  • Gives warning alerts if it detects unusual spending or suspicious activity on your accounts
  • Uses 256-bit encryption to protect your personal information and 128-bit SSL to secure exchanged data
  • Free download from the Apple Store or Google Play
Start Using Mint

Level Money

  • Connects with your bank and credit card accounts
  • Analyzes your cash flow and helps you set savings goals
  • Once you set your savings goals, Level gives you your monthly “spendable” (the amount of money you can spend throughout the month on non-essential expenses)
  • Can adjust your savings goals whenever you want
  • Level works best for detecting regular patterns, but it’s getting better at analyzing irregular cash flow
  • Simplifies the budgeting process so you don’t have to track specific categories. However, you can set up categories if you prefer to
  • Shows your transaction and disposable income at a glance
  • Allows you to mark “don’t count” on unusual expenses if you don’t want them counted toward your budget plan
  • You must open the app at least once every two weeks to remain an active user
  • Uses 128-bit level encryption to secure your information
  • Level never sells your data to third parties
  • Free download from the Apple Store or Google Play
Start Using Level Money

Pluto

  • Personal finance app is still in beta (must join a waiting list to request early access)
  • Connects with your bank account to track your spending
  • You set personal savings goals (they can be as specific or open-ended as you like)
  • Keeps track of your progress toward your savings goals
  • Analyzes your spending to give you customized “spend less” challenges (e.g. Pluto will tell you if you overspend on Ubers and suggest how much to spend instead)
  • When you accomplish your “spend less” challenge, Pluto sets aside the difference toward one of your savings goals
  • Automatically tracks, categorizes, and analyzes your spending across accounts so you can see exactly how much you spend in certain categories or with specific merchants
  • Sensitive data is secured and encrypted with bank-level security
Start Using Pluto

Digit

  • Automatically saves a small amount of money from your checking account every few days
  • Connects with your bank account and analyzes your cash flow
  • Looks for opportunities to save money and sets aside between $0.05 and $150 every few days (average transfer is between $10 and $30)
  • Savings go into a secure Digit account called your Rainy Day Fund, which has a 0.20% APR
  • You can set up additional savings categories in addition to the Rainy Day Fund
  • You’ll use simple text commands to talk to Digit through text or Facebook Messenger
  • Transfer money back from your Digit savings account to your checking account at any time for no fee (transfer takes about one business day)
  • Digit texts you supportive messages, random fun facts, and funny memes to encourage you to save (can turn this off in the settings)
  • Even if you cancel your account, Digit will keep your info and let you reactivate your account within 90 days
  • Not the best app if you consistently have a very low balance in your bank account
  • 128-bit level security and FDIC insurance for up to $250,000
  • After a 100-day free trial period, Digit charges users $2.99 a month
  • Free download from the Apple Store or Google Play
Start Using Digit

Which money management app is right for you?

If you’re comfortable managing your finances using a mobile app, these budgeting tools are excellent resources. They’re easy to use and they take the tedious work of budgeting out of your hands. Rather than trying to pick apart your spending habits, these apps divide everything into categories for you.

Since everyone is different, these apps customize your savings goals to meet your particular needs. Mint is perhaps the most popular all-in-one tool for sticking to a budget plan.

Level Money works well for people who don’t care about spending categories. With one monthly “spendable” bucket, Level trusts you to spend your non-essential income however you see fit.

Digit, on the other hand, makes the savings process as painless as possible. It sets aside a little money every few days so you don’t even notice it missing. Log in every once and a while and see your Rainy Day Fund grow.

Since Pluto is still in the beta phase, we’ll have to stay tuned to see it in action. But its customized “spend less” challenges seem like a great way to cut down on excessive shopping.

Expense tracker apps make budgeting easy

If you’re looking to take control of your personal finances, one of these apps is a great way to start. Since they’re free and secure, there’s no harm done if you don’t end up using them.

If you do use them regularly, you’ll be a big step closer to mastering your personal finances. For even more details on these spending tracker tools, head to the Student Loan Hero marketplace.

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