Millennials, you’ve had it tough – recession, record student loan debt, stagnant wages and fewer jobs that provide access to traditional employer benefits like matching retirement contributions and healthcare.
All these things make budgeting and saving a challenge, with your everyday needs constantly competing against savings for future goals.
Not every one of these budgeting tools will be the best fit for you. But trying out one or two can help you find one that will help you get your finances on track.
But you have one advantage over other generations when it comes to money management: widespread accessibility and affordability of personal finance technology.
Think about it: You get to start your independent adult life accompanied by one of the best tools ever created for tracking and managing money right ꟷ your smartphone!
To take full advantage of that technology to inch closer to your money goals, you should consider downloading at least one of these top mobile budgeting tools …
If there’s one money app you’ve heard of it’s probably this one, and for good reason. Mint is a free app and online budgeting system that lets you track your spending across all of your accounts in one convenient location.
Beyond tracking, you can also sign up for alerts to remind you when bills are due and when you might be overspending in a certain category – Seamless anyone?
If you want to create more mindfulness around your money, Mint is a great starting point, providing a simple way for you to see your spending and begin paying attention to your finances on a regular basis.
2. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
This subscription software, also available as an app on iPhone and Android, operates on the zero-based budgeting principle of giving every dollar a job. That is, planning out what you want to do with every dollar of your income each month ꟷ spend, save, invest, give, etc. ꟷ before you spend any of it.
With YNAB, you can sync your bank and credit card accounts as you do with Mint to track your spending. But YNAB isn’t just about creating more mindfulness around your money, it’s about adopting a total lifestyle shift that prioritizes four key financial principles: “give every dollar a job,” “embrace your true expenses,” “roll with the punches” and “age your money.”
The YNAB system of financial management offers a hands-on approach that can help you not only observe your financial habits, but change them to prioritize your financial goals. You can see if it works for you with their free 34-day trial.
This budgeting app is based on the envelope budgeting method of dividing your cash between envelopes at the start of each month and labeling each with the purpose of the cash inside (For example, groceries, entertainment, household supplies, etc.). The idea being that once you use the money from one envelope, you can’t spend any more money in that budget category until the following month. And if you do, you have to borrow money from another envelope/ budget category to do it, which forces you to live within your means.
Mvelopes makes this budgeting system digital, syncing to your bank and credit card accounts and letting you assign money to “mvelopes” to help you stick to your budget.
Mvelopes has a few pricing tiers, but no matter which you choose, you’ll be able to monitor your expenses, add and edit transactions and adjust your budget on the go. Like YNAB, you can start with a free trial.
4. Personal Capital
This budgeting tool will not only let you import financial transactions across all of your accounts so that you can see your spending, it will also sync up with your investment accounts so you can see your net worth – that is, your FULL financial picture.
Personal Capital’s dashboard is full of charts and graphics that let you compare your spending from one month to the next. It also offers helpful investment tools like a fee analyzer to help you maximize your full financial portfolio.
While you can purchase a premium version of the app for more personalized recommendations, these software features are free.
Not every one of these budgeting tools will be the best fit for you. But trying out one or two can help you find one that will help you get your finances on track and start making progress toward the money goals that matter most to you!