August 12, 2020 | By: Chantelle Magee

The Best Budgeting Apps

Financial Resources

We simply can’t live without our smartphones. We use them to email, shop, get directions… so why not install a budgeting app? Since we  always have our smartphones with us, budget apps can be especially useful when it comes to keeping track of our expenses.

Today, there are a variety of budget apps designed to help us manage our finances. But with so many budgeting apps out there, it can be tricky narrowing down  the best and easiest to use. So, if you need a budgeting app (and we all could use one), below is our list of the best budgeting apps in Canada.

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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.

Careful budgeting can also open your eyes to expenses you may be able to cut back on to save 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 it 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 budget apps and web-based budgeting tools are among the most likely to stay on top of their finances.What Makes a

Budgeting App the “Best Budget App in Canada?”

What should you look for in a budgeting app? The answer to this question will depend on your needs. For example, are you looking for a free tool that just helps you track your income and expenses? Do you need to be able to actively track how much money you have in the bank and on your credit cards? Or, are you concerned most with keeping your information secure while you work on your budget?

Your priorities should define what “the best budgeting app in Canada” means for you when you search for one in the Google Play or Apple Store.

Some of the basic things to check for in budget apps include:

1. Integrations with Your Banking App(s)

When establishing your budget, it can help to have the most current information from your bank available to you. So, being able to import data from any banking app (or apps) that you use can be highly useful.Naturally, using a banking app with built-in budget management features can be a prime choice if all your credit cards/loans are with that bank (and will be available to review in the app). For many, the best budget app in Canada is simply their preferred bank’s app.

2. Security Features

Data privacy is a huge issue for any consumer. Having your sensitive banking and credit card details leaked to a malicious third party can be an enormous hassle. To help avoid situations where they could fall victim to fraud and identity theft, many people choose their budgeting apps based on the level of security they provide.

Security is a major priority, so you should look for budget apps that use two-factor authentication, data encryption, or other cybersecurity tools to protect your data.

3. Price

Not all budgeting apps will be free. Some of the best budgeting app solutions will charge a nominal fee for access to the app’s features. While the month-to-month cost for most mobile budgeting apps will be small, it can add up over time.

Some apps have both “free” and “paid” versions. While it varies from one budgeting app to the next, the free version might have fewer active features or other restrictions compared to the paid version (or they may have mobile ads).

For example, a “free” budget app might only allow you to enter a few items into your budget planner or lock certain planning features behind a paywall.

So, just because a budgeting app is “free,” that doesn’t always mean it’s always the best option when you’re on a budget – since you may have to pay to get the most out of the app.

4. Credit Monitoring Capabilities

Your credit plays a huge role in your finances. For example, a good credit score can mean the difference between getting a loan at a favourable rate or being denied (or only getting loan offers with interest rates well above the prime rate).

However, manually keeping track of your credit score can be a pain. If you want to closely monitor your credit, some of the best budgeting apps have credit monitoring built in. With this tool, you can keep an eye on your credit score and get a general idea of your credit health.

5. Ease of Use vs Versatility

Budget apps can have a wide variety of features. While this can make an app extremely useful for a lot of different people, it can also make the app feel bloated or over-complicated – especially if you’re new to using it!

So, when looking for the best budgeting apps in Canada, it’s important to consider how easy the app is to use and how versatile it is for your needs. If an app is too complicated or doesn’t have a very good tutorial or support system to get you through all of its features, odds are that you’ll find it more frustrating than it’s worth.

On the other hand, a simpler budgeting app might be easier to use – and thus, less frustrating. However, you may find that such simple apps might not have the versatility to meet all of your budgeting needs.

It may help to start with simpler budget apps at first while you become familiar with how they work. Then, once you’re comfortable, switch to a more robust app with more complex features that meet a specific need you have.

The Best Budgeting Apps in Canada

Some experts say that "If you want to get serious about managing your money, getting some digital help is a solid move." With a recent Alcon survey revealing that Canadians spend nearly two and a half hours per day staring into their phones, why not put that time to good use? 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 some of the best budgeting apps that we recommend checking out — in alphabetical order!

Banking Apps

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 can 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 transactions, 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.

When you’re on a tight budget or need ready access to your most current and accurate bank account info, banking apps can really be your best budget apps!

Goodbudget

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 divided among the various envelopes – with any extra being put toward savings. 

  • Price: Free single account on up to two devices, plus plan with unlimited accounts on up to five devices.
  • Standout Feature(s): Envelope system for organizing income and expenses so users can plan ahead. Debt payoff tracking to create a timeline for getting out of debt.

Honeydue

A financial app designed for couples to use. Honeydue is a play on the phrase “Honey Do” for the lists of to-do items that spouses might leave one another. This budgeting app boasts integrations with over 20,000 financial institutions across five countries, which helps ensure that whether you’re banking with a big name or a small credit union, you’ll be covered. The app also integrates chat features so you can communicate with your significant other about your linked bank accounts, loans, deposits, and bills in real time. Users can also set spending limits for different budget categories to help them control their spending through the app.

  • Price: Free to download, with optional in-app purchases for “monthly tips.”
  • Standout Feature(s): Shared viewing of joint bank accounts, in-app chat tools, and tracking of spending for different categories (with warnings when you or your significant other are close to the limit).

Mint

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 withdrawal 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

  • Price: Free for most services. To get credit monitoring costs $16.99 a month for the premium plan.
  • Standout Feature(s): Personalized insights feature to help you track your net worth, spending habits, and budget. PMint also has paid credit monitoring to let you track your credit score and events that affect it.

Mvelopes

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.

  • Price: Three pricing tiers for Basic ($5.97/mo. USD), Premier ($9.97/mo. USD), and Plus ($19.97/mo. USD)
  • Standout Feature(s): All plans come with a live chat and knowledge base, automatic transaction and account monitoring, and interactive reports. Plus plans include access to a personal finance coach.

PocketGuard

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.

  • Price: Free for basic, Plus membership to enable extra features available for $7.99/mo. (USD), $79.99/year (USD), or $99.99 (USD) for a lifetime membership.
  • Standout Feature(s): Connect multiple checking, credit, and savings accounts to see “what’s in your pocket” at any time. Full transaction histories for linked accounts to help track spending. Plus plans include debt payoff planning features.

PocketSmith

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).

  • Price: Three tiers of plans, each charged monthly: Basic (free), Premium ($9.95 USD), and Super ($19.95 USD)
  • Standout Feature(s): Two-factor authentication for enhanced security, a reporting dashboard to simplify money management, and a budget calendar for scheduling bills and income ahead of time.

Smart Receipts

\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. Smart Receipts is available for free or with a yearly paid subscription. The free version is ad-supported, while the paid version is ad free and adds automatic backups, exchange rate processing, and automatic scans for receipts to enter information for you.

  • Price: Free for basic, $9.99 USD per year for the Plus plan
  • Standout Feature(s): Receipt recording with photos, automated backups, and mileage tracking for business expense reimbursements.

Spendee

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.

  • Price: Three tiers of plan: Basic (free), Plus ($14.99/year USD), and Premium ($22.99/year USD).
  • Standout Feature(s): Cash wallet, budget, and secured data (with backup) on all plans. Plus add unlimited budgets, wallets, and wallet sharing. Premium adds automatic categorization and bank account synching.

Wallet

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 one of the best budget apps for couples who want to work on their finances together.

  • Price: Available for free, with options for monthly ($5.99 USD), yearly ($21.99 USD), or lifetime ($49.99 USD) premium memberships.
  • Standout Feature(s): Manual budgeting for cash on hand and bank balances in the free app. Premium plans allow users to link their bank accounts to help automate record-keeping.

Wally

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. A built-in financial calendar helps this budgeting app create clarity for income and expenses so you can plan around your bills.

  • Price: Free
  • Standout Feature(s): No paid memberships, so every feature is available to every user. Financial calendar and expense categories help with budget planning by identifying necessary and unnecessary expenses. Specialized foreign transaction tracking monitors your spend in each type of currency you use.

YNAB (You Need a Budget)

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?

  • Price: Billed monthly ($11.99 USD) or annually ($84 USD).
  • Standout Feature(s): Variations of the app are available for iPhone, Android, iPad, Apple Watch, and Alexa to put the app wherever you are. Reminders help put you back on track if you stray from your budget, and every dollar is accounted for.

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

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