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The world of expense tracking has come a long way since the first versions of Quicken and Microsoft Money came to the market in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively. Now you have web- and phone-based expense tracker apps that can help you reach a whole new level of financial knowledge and preparedness. If you need to track a budget, one of these is likely a great fit for you.
Best for Investors : Personal Capital
If you mostly have your money situation under control but want better charts and graphs for your finances, Personal Capital is the best option. It actually is a full-featured investment manager for hire, but its free personal finance dashboard is available for anyone who signs up and is packed with features.
Specific to expenses, Personal Capital automatically tracks and categorizes every expense you make on a linked credit or debit card. From there, the app creates charts showing your monthly cash flow with an ability to break down expenses by category and dig deeper into where you see concerning spending habits. It isn’t great for budgeting but is powerful for tracking your finances overall, particularly your investments.
Best for Small Businesses : QuickBooks
If you run a small business, you might have attempted to run both your personal and business finances through one expense tracker app. This leads to messy reporting, unclear results, and difficulty understanding what is going on with both sides of your financial life. Plus, blurring your finances between personal and business can lead to problems with taxes and might harm your personal finances if your business is ever sued.
Like Mint, Intuit is the clear leader in this space through its popular QuickBooks program. QuickBooks comes in various versions and editions depending on your computer and business needs. While it is far from perfect, it currently is the most prominent and best option to wrap up your entire business management, including expense tracking, contract management, and payroll, all in one app.
Best for Millennials : Wally
Wally is an integrated expense tracker app that provides insights into your spending habits by syncing with your financial accounts. Wally has a big focus on expenses and presents feedback and useful information on your spending, but it also has a social feature for shared expenses. For example, if you share utilities with a roommate, Wally can track those expenses.
The appealing graphics and social features will be appreciated by Millennial users. Note that Wally is available only on iOS devices.
Most Popular : Mint
No list of expense tracker apps would be complete without a mention of Mint, one of the best-known personal finance tools around. Mint is great because it is free, supports a wide range of banks and lenders, and comes from one of the largest and most trusted names in financial software, Intuit. With this app, you are receiving help with budgeting, expense tracking, credit monitoring, and bills.
However, while Mint is one of the oldest and most full-featured expense tracker app options, it isn’t perfect. There are a handful of bugs in the software, and new features are slow to release since Intuit bought the app in 2009. If you find a bug or a problem in your account, getting support sometimes can be a challenge.
Best for Budgeting : YNAB
YNAB stands for You Need a Budget. The folks behind this app worked hard to build an app specifically focused on budgeting and expense tracking. The app takes an uncommon philosophy of budgeting. Users are forced to give a job to every dollar they earn, whether it is related to savings, expenses, or investments, and the app uses that to show user budgets.
The original version allowed for manual expense tracking only, though the newer update allows you to automatically import expenses from a linked bank account as well. It isn’t perfect for everyone, but if you want to start budgeting and need help getting the process moving, YNAB is likely a good fit for your needs.
Best for Digital Money Envelopes : Mvelopes
How much money do you have to spend this month at coffee shops? How about on clothes? Most budgeting and expense tracking apps are designed to tell you what happened after you spend your money. Mvelopes takes a different approach and offers spending forecasts and suggestions to keep you from going overboard on your next visit to the mall, or Amazon, or wherever else you like to spend money.
Envelope budgeting is a style of budgeting that involves literally putting cash in envelopes at the start of the month, and you can spend until your envelopes are empty. Mvelopes takes that experience online, offering users digital envelopes to store their spending money each month.
What Does an Expense Tracker App Do?
An expense tracker app is either web- or phone-based and can help you track a range of expenses. You enter incoming and outgoing money, and the app can help you store and track that information. It can help you track your budget, track your investments, use graphs and charts to show your progress, and keep your business and personal expenses separate.
Expense tracker apps also can track your spending habits and give you insights to better help you understand where you’re spending and how you can cut back. You can use expense trackers on the go, and different apps are good for different types of expense tracking.
How Much Does an Expense Tracker App Cost?
Expense tracker apps vary greatly in costs. Some are free, some offer a free 30-day trial, and others offer both a free and a paid version. Some offer additional services for a fee.
Is an Expense Tracker App Worth the Cost?
You decide what kind of expense tracking you need help with and compare the free apps with the paid ones. If the features you need cost money, you need to weigh if it’s worth the cost. It’s a good idea to start with a free or low-cost version and see if you actually use it before spending money on a premium version. Still, none of the expense tracker apps are that expensive, and if they save you more than they cost, they will be worth the expense.
How We Chose the Best Expense Tracker Apps
We chose these six best expense tracker apps based on their compatibility with phones and other apps, their features and tools, and how easy they were to use. We also looked at what their goals were and if they achieved them.