My Four Favorite Budgeting Apps (and they are free!)

four favorite budgeting apps


As a finance professor, people ask me a lot of questions. One of the most common questions is about ways to make budgeting easier or if “there is an app for that.” There are two difficult parts to the budgeting process. The first part is sitting down to actually make a budget. The second part is knowing where you are in your budget and sticking to it. For me, this is by far the more challenging task because it takes time to record your expenses. I’m always looking for an app to help make my life more efficient, so I have actually tried a lot of budgeting apps over the years. Today I’ve decided to share four of my current favorites.


mint money budget app
Mint: Money Manager, Budget, and Personal Finance is a free app that provides a complete money management toolbox for users. You can connect all of your bank, credit card, and investment apps to your personal Mint account and let the app do the rest. Mint will keep track of your spending and income and even make suggestions for how you can improve your budget. If you want an app that will literally track and do everything for you, Mint is the way to go. Personally, I don’t want to use this app for security reasons. I don’t like the idea of tying all of my financial accounts into this one place. If you don’t mind, however, you won’t find anything better than this.


daily budget original money budget app
Daily Budget Original is a free app that provides you will a daily budget after you enter your monthly income and fixed expenses. Since it does not connect to your bank account, there is some work on your part. Each time you make a purchase, you’ll need to enter that into the app so that it can deduct that dollar amount from your daily allowance. However, the app is simple and easy to use.


mvelopes money budgeting app
Mvelopes is a nice, free app if you are fond of the envelope method of budgeting. You can set up the categories, or envelopes, of your monthly expenses as needed. These are fully customizable, so you can have just a few, broad categories or envelopes for individual expenses like cable, coffee, cell phone, gym membership, etc. Mvelopes will also connect to all of your financial accounts (like Mint) and automatically deduct your expenses. Again, this has the benefit of taking the work out of the equation for you, but be careful about keeping your accounts and identity secured.


wellspent money budgeting app
WellSpent is another free app also based on the envelope method of budgeting. Unlike Mvelopes, however, WellSpent does not connect to any of your financial accounts. So, you’ll have to be diligent about entering all of your daily expenses. Once you get into a habit of entering expenses as you go or at a certain time of the day (take a minute to do it while eating lunch or at the end of each day), you’ll find this is an incredibly useful budgeting app. You have the flexibility to add as many envelope categories as you want and track your spending in each category in real-time.

Do you use an app for budgeting? If so, do you use one of these or something else? If you do not use a budgeting app, which of these sounds the best to you?

how to survive black friday tips for shopping and saving

How to Survive Black Friday

how to survive black friday tips for shopping and saving

People seem to have a love-hate relationship with Black Friday. Some people swear by it for getting deals on holiday shopping. Others swear it off completely. I’m going to start with a  disclaimer that I am one of the people who swears off the stores on Black Friday. One time I went to Target in the early morning hours on Black Friday for a specific item. There is no deal good enough to get me to get up in the middle of the night to shop. I value my sleep too highly. And seriously? I am not camping out in a parking lot even if they are going to give me a free 50-inch TV! A closet full of Jimmy Choos? Maybe. Aside from that, never.


Aside from my aversion to long lines and psychotic shoppers, I have two complaints about Black Friday. First, I hate that corporate marketing experts have decided to push Black Friday up into Thanksgiving. If you open your doors earlier, shoppers will visit your store first and spend a majority of their money with you. So, everyone keeps backing it up until you are not shopping on Friday at all. It’s not fair to the store employees and detracts from the spirit of the holiday. I like that several retailers have finally just said no and pushed back. Second, Black Friday is a recipe for disastrous overspending. There you are, all hyped up on caffeine and peppermint. Doorbusters and special deals are sparkling in your eyes. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the hype and spend too much buying extra things you really don’t need at all.


So, how can you survive Black Friday without melting your credit cards in the process? I have two suggestions.
  1. Stay home. My Black Friday shopping is limited to a handful of online deals. I know what I want, I buy those items, and I am not tempted by all of the other deals. Plus, I can do it from the comfort of home while wearing pajamas and drinking hot chocolate. If you are doing this too, please go ahead and click over on the sponsors in my sidebar on Black Friday. They will all be offering special deals on great products that I love, and you get to support this site while you shop. Thanks!
  2. If you can’t bear to miss out on Black Friday, do some work ahead of time to keep your spending in check. First, match up your shopping list with the advertised deals. Write down the items you are looking for at each store along with the price. When you get to the store, check the items off your list. Stick to your list. Do not deviate unless you see an item that was already on your Christmas shopping list. Once you leave the house, do not add to the list. Download this FREE BLACK FRIDAY PRINTABLE to help you stay on task and on budget.