Best Budgeting Apps for 2021 [In-Depth Reviews]

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This past weekend, my husband and I cleaned out our garage (trust me, it needed some cleaning). 

We were throwing out old moving boxes (some of which were still full of junk) and rearranging the place to make it look a bit more orderly. 

And you know what we came across?

  • Our very first, handwritten budget

We both smiled because honestly?

The budget was a total mess. 

But not terrible for being our first shot at a budget.

That’s what made me think: Why not go through the best budgeting apps for 2021?

the millennial money woman blog post "statistic of american spending"

Image: The Millennial Money Woman | Source: Mint

And so, through my garage cleaning experience, a new blog post began…

5 Best Budgeting Apps for 2021

Best Beginner Budgeting App: Simplifi

MMW Rating
3.75/5

Best Analytical Budgeting App: Quicken

MMW Rating
4/5

Best Budgeting App for Investors: Personal Capital

MMW Rating
4.5/5

Best Budgeting App for Couples: YNAB

MMW Rating
4.75/5

Best Budgeting App for College Students: Boro

MMW Rating
4/5

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty and help you keep your budget on track.

Check out my full analysis of each budgeting app below!

Best Free Budgeting Apps

Excel Spreadsheet


If you are a hands-on person and are ok physically tracking and recording your monthly:

  • Income 
  • Savings
  • Expenses
  • Investments

Then why even bother buying a budgeting app? 

Just start an Excel spreadsheet, and truly comb through every single, detailed expense. 

Meticulously tracking your expenses will help you:

  • Better understand your current financial situation
  • Realize where you can cut costs
  • Develop a plan to save more

However, if you’re not exactly someone who enjoys tracking every cent spent, then Excel definitely isn’t the right place for you.

Best Budgeting App for Beginners

I’ve been testing so many budgeting apps over the last 5 years – for my clients, mentees, and my husband (lol). 

The most user-friendly budgeting app in my opinion is Simplifi.

Just as the name suggests, Simplifi:

  • Places spending categories on “watchlists” to alert you if you overspend
  • Is super easy to sync with your bank accounts and credit cards
  • Gives you an oversight of your net worth
  • Provides excellent visuals
  • Is user-friendly

Simplifi is the budgeting app for you, if you prefer to maintain a big-picture overview of your expenses and receive alerts if you are close to overspending

However, if you want to dive deeper into your spending patterns, then Quicken might be the better choice for you.

Best Budgeting App for Advanced Budgeters

Quicken, on the other hand, dives deep into your overall income and spending patterns.

As an example, Quicken analyzes:

  • Your budget
  • How to reduce your debt
  • Your tax planning strategies
  • Your long term financial goals

Although Quicken provides some great visuals to sync your accounts, I do want to caution you that the software can be overwhelming to the individual who is not ready to take a deeper dive into their financial picture. 

Quicken offers so, so many financial tools that if your true goal is merely to track your income and expenses, Quicken is not your budgeting software. That’s where I’d likely recommend Simplifi.

Best Budgeting App for Investors

Personal Capital offers a lot of the bells and whistles that other budgeting apps do not.

To start using the Personal Capital financial tools, you will have to link your bank, investment, etc. accounts so that the software can obtain a better financial picture of your current situation. 

This process typically takes a few minutes. 

Thereafter, you’ll be able to access the many different financial tools Personal Capital provides to improve your situation, including:

  • Budgeting 
  • Income tracker
  • Net worth tracker
  • Asset allocation overview

Of course, this is “just” the free version. 

As you become more serious about retirement and optimizing your investment management strategy, Personal Capital offers customized and professional financial advice as well – for a fee.

Best Budgeting App for Couples

My husband and I have experimented with many different budgeting apps – and we feel that there are many great apps out there… 

…But when it comes to budgeting for couples, we feel that You Need a Budget is likely your best bet.

The app, You Need a Budget, also known as YNAB, is for:

  • Serious budgeting couples
  • Those who want to put their money to good use
  • Those who want to slash unnecessary expenses

YNAB works wonders if you and your partner are looking to pay your way out of debt and start building wealth together.

My husband and I love YNAB because we can check out budget progress through:

  • Apple
  • Desktops
  • Smartphones
  • Amazon Echo

Be warned – YNAB is for those who are serious because it does come at a small cost: $11.99 per month or $84 per year. 

However, in my opinion (and my husband’s opinion), it’s worth the money if you’re committed to improving your financial situation.

Best Budgeting App for College Students

I want to start off by saying that I WISH I had known about Boro when I was in college. 

Boro is the budgeting app for college students.

Check out the perks with Boro:

  • Offers auto loans
  • Offers student loans 
  • Free budgeting tools
  • Visually and user friendly
  • Automatic expense tracking
  • Offers customized spending tips
  • Provides monthly spending goals

I really appreciate Boro because you don’t have to pay to utilize their budgeting and money management tools. 

Their tools are also user friendly and pretty easy to navigate (and this is coming from someone who is NOT tech-savvy). 

And honestly, who has time in college to deeply analyze and track their expenses?

Likely, no one. 

That’s why Boro is my budgeting app pick for college students – because it makes budgeting fast, simple and easy.

Recommended Reading: How to Save Money in College

Closing Thoughts: Best Budgeting Apps


Honestly, if you’re ready to level up and take control of your expenses, it’s time to start a budget. 

I don’t care if you:

  • Budget using a plain Excel spreadsheet
  • Budget using the beginner budgeting app, Simplifi
  • Budget using the analytical budgeting app, Quicken

All I care about is that you start today. 

"Remember this: Manage money before it manages you."

Is it going to be a hard lift if you haven’t budgeted before?

Absolutely.

Is it going to be time-sucking and energy-draining?

Without a doubt. 

But are you going to feel so, so much better afterward?

100 percent. 

Guys and gals, if you want to become financially free, budgeting is your best first step. 

After hand-writing our budget on that faded, crumpled piece of paper my husband and I found while digging through our garage, we also leveled up and started tracking our budget daily. 

In no time, my husband and I (we’re very competitive) started competing to try and lower expenses month by month. 

Guess how much money we saved by the end of our first 12 months of budgeting?

Almost $700 per month. 

That’s $8,400 per year. 

What did we do with that spare $8,400 per year?

  • Pay for vet bills for our French Bulldog
  • Paid off our credit card debt
  • Invested the rest

There are, of course, many other budgeting apps out there, but I find it’s really difficult to narrow down your choices.

So, for the sake of simplicity, I selected my personal favorite budgeting apps.

Let’s go and start making some money!

Your bank accounts will thank me later.

How do you plan to budget for your future?

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Fiona Smith
Fiona Smith
The Millennial Money Woman was founded by Fiona Smith. She holds her Master of Science Degree in Personal Financial Planning and has co-founded a local non-profit community teaching financial literacy to young professionals.

2 thoughts on “Best Budgeting Apps for 2021 [In-Depth Reviews]”

  1. Thank you for sharing a curated list of applications that help planning the budget. Also, I liked the fact that you have given a dedicated application for every single segment of people. I tried the manual method of budgeting, but it does not contribute to proper planning as we have to track it on our own. These applications will be a lot of help

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