We simply can’t live without our smartphones. We use them to email, shop, get directions… so why not install a budgeting app? Since they're always with us, they can be especially useful when it comes to keeping track of our expenses. Today, there are a variety of apps designed to help us manage our finances. But with so many apps, it can be tricky narrowing it down to which are the best and easiest to use. So, if you need a budget app (and we all could use one), here is our list of the ten best budgeting apps for Canadians.
Why Is Budgeting Important?
It's important to understand that budgeting doesn't mean giving up everything you enjoy. Creating a budget is simply designed to give you a clear picture of the money you have coming in each month and how much of it you're spending. This can help you better plan your spending throughout each week so you don't run out of money by the end of the month. It will also open your eyes to expenses you may be able to cut back on to begin saving money for the things that are really important to you. Want proof? According to the 2019 Canadian Financial Capability Survey (CFCS), Canadians who budget are more apt to keep up with their financial commitments and spend within their monthly income!
Do Budgeting Apps Really Work?
The next thing to understand about budgeting is that is doesn't have to be difficult, and there are a number of apps out there to make it even easier. But do budgeting apps really work? Yes! That same CFCS report states that the rise of digital budgeting apps has made sticking to a budget significantly easier for Canadians, and those who rely on these web-based budgeting tools are among the most likely to stay on top of their finances.
The 10 Best Budgeting Apps
The Financial Post writes "If you want to get serious about managing your money, getting some digital help is a solid move." And, with a recent Alcon survey revealing that Canadians spend nearly two and a half hours per day staring into their phones, what are you waiting for? Whether you're looking for the best free budget app or a holistic personal finance app that will help with your spending habits, here are the 10 best budgeting apps that we recommend checking out—in alphabetical order!
If you haven’t yet downloaded your bank’s app, what are you waiting for? These are free apps for banking customers, many with budgeting and expense tracking features, that help you manage your money so you can improve your spending habits!
- BMO Insights. This is a helpful free feature in the BMO mobile banking app that offers personalized, relevant money management tips about your spending, savings, deposits, and more.
- Capital One. The mobile app is designed with traditional banking features, but it also sends real-time notifications to your phone when it has been used to keep you abreast of your spending.
- CIBC Mobile App. The CIBC app allows you to set savings goals and target dates. Then, it helps you calculate the monthly contribution and set up the necessary transfers.
- RBC myFinanceTracker. The RBC app can create your budget and financial calendar in minutes, track expenses, set goals, and set budget alerts so you know instantly if you are overspending.
- Scotia App. The Scotiabank app is a traditional banking app that lets you view your account balance and transaction, deposit cheques, and more.
- TD MySpend. TD MySpend categorizes and monitors your spending, providing a Daily Digest of the previous day’s transactions. It also provides a Spending Insights Meter to give you a look at how you're spending now compared to in the past.
This personal finance app is based on the age-old hack of keeping your money in separate envelopes to keep track of how much money you’re allocating to each area of your life, like rent, car, clothing, food, entertainment, etc. Using this system, Goodbudget believes users will never be caught off-guard by a bill or sudden expense, as each paycheck that comes in is divvied up among the various envelopes with extra put toward savings. | Free Basic Plan | Plus Plan $7.00/mo
Mint is the darling of the online budgeting world, and currently boasts more than 15 million users. Mint allows you to connect all your banking accounts to the app, enabling you to keep track of every withdraw and deposit across every account. The app also lets you track and label your spending, pay your bills, and check your spending. For those of us who tend to be a little forgetful, Mint also allows you to enable notifications to alert you when a payment is due or if your account balance falls below a certain amount. | Free Basic Plan | $16.99/mo with Credit Monitoring
What are your financial goals? Paying off student loans? Or maybe you’re saving up for a new car. The Mvelopes app will ask you these questions when you sign up to help you easily reach your financial goals. Like the second app on our list, Goodbudget, Mvelopes uses the envelope method of budgeting. Users can create up to 25 “mvelopes” and determine how much money they’d like to dedicate to each area of their life. This is especially useful for people with irregular income as they can track spending that isn’t routine and may fall outside of a specific mvelope. | $4.00/mo
Having been featured in Time, Forbes, and many other news outlets, PocketGuard is quickly making a name for itself as a simple way to take control of your money, optimize your spending and grow your savings automatically. This money management app allows you to categorize items (for example, restaurants) and set spending limits. It then calculates what’s left “In My Pocket,” and on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis so you always know how much cash you have available. | Free
PocketSmith lets you "reflect on the past, live in the present, and see the future." Using the app, you can budget and track your expenses like other personal finance apps, but PocketSmith takes things a step further by providing a complete, 360-degree view of your finances. It allows you to import your past financial data in order to create (and plan for) future scenarios, such as becoming debt free, saving for a home, or saving for a vacation (or all of the above). | Free Basic Plan | Premium ($.9.95/mo) | Super ($19.95/mo).
Wouldn’t it be neat to have a digital filing cabinet for all your receipts? Now you can! Time to ditch the shoebox and download the Smart Receipts app. Using the camera on your device, you can snap a photo of your receipt on the spot, and enter any relevant details. Smart Receipts then time and date stamps it, and stores it for you. You can later search, print, and even email a copy of any receipt. While the app is great for all users, business travelers find it particularly useful for getting reimbursed by their employer (it even helps you easily keep track of mileage). It can also be a lifesaver come tax time. | Free Basic Plan | Plus Plan $9.99/year
Spendee was designed to help people change their money mindset in order to make smarter decisions about their money every day. It began as a simple expense tracker, but has grown into a personal finance app used not just in Canada, but around the globe. Like other apps, Spendee links to your bank(s) and tracks your cash flow on a daily basis using beautifully designed charts and diagrams. Users can create customizable spending alerts and link multiple users, making it ideal for families and couples working together to improve their finances. Free Basic Plan | Plus Plan $14.99/year | Premium Plan $22.99/year
Wallet bills itself as "one app to unite your finances." It allows you to sync with your bank(s) and then helps manage your cash, from shopping lists to loan payments. It also offers a group/family sharing option which makes it the best budget app for couples who want to work on their finances together. | Free basic plan | $4.99/mo
Another one of the free personal finance apps on our list, Wally is built to help you keep track of your outgoing expenses in relation to your income. It can be synced to your bank accounts and then it will automatically categorize your spending for further insights. Users can set weekly or monthly goals, and add notes and scan receipts with purchases to stay organized. | Free
If you’re living paycheque to paycheque, you need a budget. Not coincidentally, that’s what You Need A Budget, or YNAB, offers. Today, if you’re anything like most Canadians, you may be living above your means and creating budgets based on money you don’t have. YNAB forces you to live within your actual income through a built-in “accountability partner” that keeps you on track. There is a monthly or annual fee for the app, however, YNAB reports that the average user saves $200 in the first month. And because the first month is free for all—and the first year is free for high school and college students—what have you got to lose? | $6.99/month | $83.99/year
Need Budgeting Help? We Are Here For You!
These are ten of the best personal finance apps you might want to consider (we encourage you to check out our 15 Best Money-Making Apps too). Of course, there are many more apps available; for example, the best app to keep track of spending may be different than the best budget app for couples, so you'll want to do some research of your own. As always, beware of costs and hidden fees on any other app you may choose—you don’t want to spend money on an app you don’t like or need! As always, if you think you might need a little more help than an app can provide, and you might want to speak to an expert credit counsellor at Credit Canada. Give us a call today at 1 (800) 267-2272 – it’s free and confidential – or contact us online.