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The 6 Best Budgeting Apps

by:
Chantelle Magee

We simply can’t live without our smartphones. We use them to email, shop, get directions… just about everything. Since they’re always in our hand, this makes them especially useful when it comes to keeping track of our expenses. Acknowledging this benefit, countless apps have been developed in recent years to help you do just that. But with so many apps, it can be tricky narrowing it down to which are the best and easiest to use. We’re here to help with our top six picks!

1. Your Bank’s App

If you haven’t yet downloaded your bank’s app, what are you waiting for? Most have free budgeting apps to help you keep track of your money, so you can improve your spending habits. For example (and in no particular order):

  • CIBC Banking App. Congratulations to CIBC for earning the highest overall score in mobile banking functionality and usability for 2017 in a Forrester Research global benchmark. What makes it so special? Aside from normal banking functions, 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. Free for banking customers

  • TD MySpend. The TD MySpend app monitors your spending, providing a Daily Digest of the previous day’s transactions. It categorizes your spending so you know exactly where your money goes, and provides a Spending Insights Meter to give you a look at how you're spending now compared to your spending in the past. Free for banking customers

  • RBC myFinanceTracker. RBC customers using the app can create a budget and a financial calendar in minutes, track expenses, set goals, and set budget alerts to know instantly if they are overspending. Free for banking customers

2. 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. Free Basic Plan

3. 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 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  

4. 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 small monthly or annual fee for YNAB; however, the benefits can far outweigh the costs. In fact, 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 per month | $83.99 annually

5. 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. It’s all based on that age-old hack of keeping your money in separate envelopes, or jars, to keep track of how much money you’re allocating to each area of your life, like rent, car, clothing, food, entertainment, etc. Using the app, you’ll create up to 25 “mvelopes” and determine how much money you’d like to dedicate to each area of your life. We think this is especially useful for those with irregular income; you're able to track spending that isn’t routine and may fall outside of a specific mvelope. $4 per month Basic Plan

6. Stocard

According to a 2015 study, 90% of Canadians own at least one loyalty card, and the average Canadian carries four at all times. That makes for a fat wallet. Wouldn’t it be nice to consolidate them into one? Now you can. Stocard enables you to scan your loyalty card using the camera on your device and, voila! An instant digital version of your card. Of course, there may be instances where a scanner might not pick up the barcode from your phone, but you’ll still have a scan of the numbers, which the cashier can then enter manually if needed. Free

As a starter, you can download your bank’s app today, but we also encourage you to strongly consider the other five user-friendly apps to begin taking control of your finances. Of course, there are many more apps available if these don’t seem like the right fit for you, and while we’ve vetted these for you, 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! And if you think you might need a little more help than an app can provide, and you might want to speak to an expert (like a credit counsellor) on how to live a debt-free life, contact Credit Canada today... And be sure to check out our budgeting and tracking tips and tools, too!

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Topics: Money Management, Budgeting, Budgeting Apps

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