All of us can use a little help managing money better. The best money management software programs provide that “second set of eyes.”
Knowing how you spend your money is the first step to becoming a money boss. Many of these money management programs will help you track spending. They’ll also help you make a spending plan, pay bills, and some will even help evaluate your investments. All of these actions can reduce your money worries.
Let’s face it, stressing about money is no fun. My wife and I use these tools to help us track our spending. We find ourselves worrying less about paying the bills. Plus, these programs only require a few minutes of your time to use.
Our Favorite Money Management programs
There are plenty of money management programs to choose from. Some are free and others charge a small monthly fee. If you’re serious about gaining control of your money, paying for a program may be well worth the money.
But not everyone needs to use a paid program. The free programs are great options, too. So, you may try them first to see if they meet all your needs.
1. You Need A Budget (YNAB)
- Best for: people who need help making a full budget
- Cost: $6.99 per month (after 34-day free trial)
YNAB might be the best premium money management program. It’s the one my wife and I used to adjust our spending when we took a 50% pay cut a few years ago. The YNAB money management philosophy focuses on four money rules:
- Give every dollar a job
- Embrace your true expenses
- Roll with the punches
- Age your money (i.e., live on last month’s income)
This app walks you through every expense you may have each month. Besides tracking spending and building a budget, YNAB lets you make savings goals. It also has daily online workshops you might enjoy.
You can sync your bank accounts with YNAB. And, you can access YNAB from your laptop, phone or smartwatch.
Tip: Lower your credit card interest rate with Tally. Doing so gives you more money to pay for life’s other expenses.
- Best for: people who prefer spreadsheets
- Cost: $59 per year (after 30-day free trial)
Spreadsheets are a powerful way to manage your finances. The only problem is that you have to enter the information yourself. If you don’t enter every transaction, you skew the results.
Tiller imports your banking, investing and credit card actions in a spreadsheet. You can access this data on Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
What makes Tiller attractive is its premade templates. It has different ones for many common budgeting strategies. Some of the templates include:
- Debt Snowball
- Monthly Expense Tracker
- Weekly Expense Tracker
- Net Worth Tracker
- Simple Business Tracker
You can use Tiller to track your personal spending or side hustle expenses. For custom spending plans, you can build your own template.
3. Personal Capital
- Best for: tracking net worth
- Cost: free
If you want a free app, you might try Personal Capital. This is a great option for tracking spending and your total net worth. Plus, you can set savings and spending goals.
You shouldn’t use this app if you still need to make a budget. If you already have control over your spending, Personal Capital lets you see “the big picture.”
Another neat feature is its retirement planner tools. This tool lets you see if you’re currently on track to meet your retirement goals. The planner also checks to see if your investments are properly diversified, and if your current ETF and mutual fund fees are higher than the category average.
Read this Personal Capital review to learn more about this money management app.
- Best for: tracking spending and making spending plans
- Cost: free
For free, Stratus tracks your banking, investing, and payment card activity. You can even link your Venmo account and student loans to Stratus.
By linking your accounts, you allow Stratus to show you exactly where you spend your money. To maximize Stratus, create a money goal and categorize every purchase. This helps create a precise spending plan to show you how much extra money you have each month.
In early 2019, Stratus will introduce a retirement planner that lets you can track your investments. The tool helps you see how much you need to invest to afford retirement. Stratus will also make basic investing suggestions. This makes Stratus a good option when you need in-depth help in making spending and investing plans.
Tip: Open a Chime online checking account to avoid ATM fees. Plus, you can receive your paycheck up to two days sooner.
- Best for: making a budget and tracking bills
- Cost: free
Mint is another longstanding free budgeting app. It’s powered by Intuit, the same developers of Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax.
This a good option for budgeting and making spending plans. It also offers bill tracking so you don’t forget a payment.
Compared to some of the other free money management programs, Mint has more ads. These ads can be annoying at times. Signing up for these services helps keep Mint free. But, you never have to enroll in these offers to remain a Mint user.
If you enjoy Mint and need more features, you can upgrade to Quicken. Some premium tools include bill pay and extra charting tools.
- Best for: online bill pay
- Cost: free
Maybe you remember Prism as Mint’s online bill pay tool. Since Mint no longer offers bill pay, you can switch to Prism. With this app, you see your upcoming bills. And, you can schedule future bill payments. If your bank doesn’t offer free bill pay, this is a great alternative.
- Best for: planning for large expenses
- Cost: $7 per month (after 14-day free trial)
People in the early retirement community use OnTrajectory for money planning. You can also use it to plan for large expenses such as buying rental property, paying down debt or saving for college.
You can input your current monthly expenses and future potential expenses. In one graph, you can see how much cash you may have for each year of life and the odds you’ll meet or exceed your savings goals.
- Best for: budget planning and “what-if” planning
- Cost: free, $9.95 or $19.95 per month
PocketSmith tracks your spending, builds a budget and shows your upcoming bills in a calendar view. Plus, you can track your net worth like you can in Personal Capital.
With a paid plan, you can predict your financial health for up to 30 years. There are a couple of other reasons to consider one of PocketSmith’s paid plans. The free plan only lets you connect two banks, and you have to manually categorize each transaction.
9. Maximize My Social Security
- Best for: people considering taking Social Security benefits
- Cost: $40 per year
Living on a fixed income can be a challenge. You earn the same amount each month but can have variable expenses. Maximize My Social Security analyzes your retirement benefits and helps you decide when to start collecting them so that you maximize your lifetime benefits.
You can factor in different “what if” situations to make alternate plans. The last thing any retiree wants is to not have enough to live on. This program can help make sure that doesn’t happen.
- Best for: cash envelope budgeters
- Cost: $4, $19 or $59 per month (after 30-day free trial)
The cash envelope system is a popular budgeting system. Mvelopes makes it easier to do in an increasingly cashless society.
Instead of keeping a paper log at home, you can track your purchases online. Other money management programs track expenses by category, but you might prefer this envelope method.
With either of Mvelopes’ upper tier plans, you have access to a money coach. These two plans also provide more guidance on tackling your debt.
- Best for: investing advice
- Cost: free or 0.50% annually for managed portfolios
Maybe you have your spending habits under control and need investing help. FutureAdvisor provides free advice for your investment accounts. They’ll perform a portfolio checkup and will recommend any changes to meet your goals.
For a fee, FutureAdvisor will manage your Fidelity or TD Ameritrade portfolios and invest in stock and bond ETFs.
- Best For: 401k investing
- Cost: $10 per month. (Your first month is free)
Most of your retirement savings are probably in your 401k account. Hopefully, you already invest in the best funds in your employer’s plan. Blooom offers a free 401k checkup. If they think they can optimize your 401k, you can have them manage your portfolio.
You also have unlimited access to a financial advisor. This perk gives you a place to ask your money questions. To make a budget, you need to choose another choice from this list.
With this special link, you get your first month of Blooom free.
13. Banktivity 7
- Best for: Apple iOS users
- Cost: $54.99 per year
It’s not uncommon for Apple money software to be worse than its PC counterpart. Banktivity 7 attempts to ease your frustration if you use software like Quicken. It’s a premium money management software program with a PC-like experience. Except, you can still use your iOS device.
To use Banktivity 7, you can connect your bank accounts or transfer your information from other budgeting apps. Beside spending, you can also track your savings rate, net worth and investment performance. Since this is a premium app, you have access to more charts than free software.
For an extra $59, a Banktivity expert will create a personal money plan. You can talk with them online for one hour. This can be cheaper than hiring a local financial planner that charges an average $150 to $300 per hour.
14. Intuit QuickBooks
- Best for: business owners and the self-employed
- Cost: $10 to $60 per month
Do you run a small business or monthly side hustle with expenses? QuickBooks can be the best app to track business expenses. With a premium plan, you can also manage inventory and 1099 contractors.
Even with a basic plan, you can store receipts, invoice clients and estimate your taxes.
- Best for: long-term financial planning
- Cost: $99 per year
Other money management programs excel in helping you create a budget or track spending. Not as many offer a full long-term picture. MaxiFi tries to be a complete financial planning tool.
This isn’t the best option if you need help making a budget from scratch. If you only need to make small adjustments to your spending habits, you’ll be fine. This app helps you estimate your retirement income and taxes, and track your money goals.
MaxiFi will also make suggestions to help improve your money plan. These changes are intended to lower your tax bill, optimize your income and help correct your current spending habits.
4 Extra Money Management Tools to Consider
One of the above platforms can be the answer you’re looking for. But, you might also consider these money tools to improve your finances.
Debt Free in 18 Months Course
To help you maximize your money management software, you might consider Well Kept Wallet’s Debt Free in 18 Months Course, by Deacon Hayes, the company’s founder. This course helps you develop a plan to get out of debt. You also receive worksheets to help you pay off debt.
Common Budget Expenses
Do you know how much the average person spends each month? If not, look at these common budget expenses. Your situation isn’t identical to anyone else’s. But, this article will give you a ballpark estimate of how much you should spend each month.
You Can Retire Early Book
To challenge your thinking about retiring at the “normal” age of 65, read You Can Retire Early, by Deacon Hayes. The book includes key money management tips. You’ll also learn different strategies to maximize your income and investing. Plus, you can challenge yourself to retire sooner than you think is possible.
Free Credit Score Monitoring and More
Another key to managing your money is knowing what your credit score is. Credit Karma provides a free credit score from two credit bureaus.
You can also watch for identity theft. Stopping bad actors right away prevents stress and can save you money.
Also, Credit Karma helps you file your taxes for free.
If you want free identity theft protection benefits, try Credit Sesame. For free, you get $50,000 in identity theft insurance. Credit Sesame also provides a free credit score.
Knowing how you spend and save your money has many benefits. It’s required if you don’t want to worry about money. And, this knowledge helps you plan for long-term goals.
What do you think is the best money management software? Share on social media and let us know.