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One of the best things you can do to improve your finances is to start by tracking expenses. Until you know where your money is going, you can’t fully address the issues that might be holding you back.
In fact, many people are surprised to discover how they’re actually spending money once they dig in. If you’re hoping to track your expenses so you can pinpoint your financial waste, there are some expense tracker apps that can help you see where the money is going, and identify areas where you could improve.
Here are some of the best expense tracker apps, along with how they can help you make better money choices.
Overview: Best Expense Tracker Apps
|Expense Tracker App||Best For|
|Empower||Overall view of your finances and accounts|
|Acorns||Investing extra money|
|PocketGuard||Seeing how much money you have left in your budget|
|YNAB||Planning to give every dollar a job|
|Mint||Overview of spending and budgeting|
5 Best Expense Tracker Apps
Each of these expense tracker apps offers something different that can help you see where your money is going and then decide if there are places to cut back, or if you could be spending on things that are more in line with your goals.
(Personal Capital is now Empower)
Empower is an app that focuses on your finances from a holistic angle. With Empower, you connect your accounts and the app keeps track of your spending.
Your dashboard includes attractive visuals that can help you see where you stand with different accounts and goals, as well as track how you’re doing relative to the previous month. You can see whether you’re spending more or less than previously, and see different trends with your finances.
Empower also helps you see your spending by category, including different loan payments, so you can track how much is going toward paying down debt. You can see groceries, utilities, taxes, and other categories to give you an idea of where your money is going.
On top of that, Empower also connects you to your overall net worth and lets you see how various investment accounts are doing. It’s a good way to see where you stand and see how you can improve your financial picture by redirecting some of your financial resources from certain expenses and toward other goals.
Empower is free to use, but also offers some paid features.
While not strictly an expense tracker app, Acorns can help you keep a handle on your spending. One of the things Acorns offers is a way for you to invest your pocket change. This is done by using the round-up feature.
The round-up feature works by monitoring a connected account and then taking your transactions and rounding them up. You can choose to round up to the nearest dollar, and then multiply that if you want. The rounded-up amount is taken from your transaction account and added to your Acorns account to be invested.
One of the things that you can do with the round-up feature is see the transactions, so you can review where the money was spent and identify patterns. Once that’s done, you can decide whether you need to cut back.
Plus, the fact that you can use your pocket change to invest and reach other goals, including retirement, can be an added bonus to using Acorns in conjunction with your efforts to track your spending.
Acorns has a flat-fee structure, based on the types of accounts and features you get. An Acorns account starts at $3 per month.
If you want more customization and to go a little deeper into your spending, PocketGuard can be a good choice. This expense tracker app connects to your accounts and automatically pays attention to your spending and categorizes it for you. However, you can also add your own custom categories and hashtags to help you better organize your costs and keep track of your income.
On top of helping you track your expenses, PocketGuard also helps you see how much spendable money is still left in your pocket. This includes looking into how much you need to set aside for bills and goals, so you can use PocketGuard to look ahead and see what you have left after your main obligations are met.
The visuals allow you to easily see which expenses are taking up most of your income, and you can identify where you can do better. Like many apps, PocketGuard has a free version with a number of features, as well as a paid premium version. The paid version costs $3.99 per month or $34.99 for an annual subscription and gives you more access to cash bills and cash management features.
One of the features of You Need A Budget (YNAB) is that it requires you to plan ahead. YNAB is an expense tracker app that forces you to connect with your money so you can give every dollar a job.
With YNAB, you look ahead to your income and expenses and plan your expenses in a way that helps you reach various goals, including paying down debt. The idea is that you can assign jobs to your dollars and then track your spending to make sure you’re on track. YNAB also allows you the ability to tweak your plan.
YNAB makes it easy to see where your money is going, compares whether it’s accomplishing what it should be, and helps you work toward various financial goals. You also get access to a number of other resources, including ongoing support and resources that can help you make the most of your money.
While YNAB offers a free 34-day trial, the app itself costs money from the get-go. You can choose to pay $11.99 per month or you can see overall savings by getting a yearly subscription for $84.
Mint is the OG of expense tracker apps. Connect your accounts to Mint, and it will track your spending, including keeping track of your cash and debt. Mint can also help you create a budget and track your progress toward goals.
With Mint, you can see spending categories and identify where you might be spending too much so that you can cut back. On top of that, you can also set up bill reminders so that you don’t end up paying late. Mint will also warn you when your bank account is getting lower.
Mint is always free to use, although you might end up with a lot of offers that aren’t free. However, even with that, Mint can be a valuable tool, especially if you want a completely free way to track your expenses, stay on top of bills and create a budget that works for you.
|Expense Tracker App||Cost||Features|
|Empower||Free, but with extra costs for investment advising and management||-See all accounts in one place
-Fee analysis for retirement accounts
-Review investment accounts
|Acorns||-$1 for Lite
-$3 for Personal
-$5 for Family
|-Invest your pocket change (including roundups)
-Debit card for spending
-$3.99 per month or $34.99 per year for PocketGuard Plus
|-Ability to add custom categories and hashtags
-Lets you know how much you have left to spend each month
-Easy to use visuals
|YNAB||$11.99 per month or $84 per year||-Planning tools to help you give every dollar a job
-Educational resources and community
|Mint||Free||-Tracks your accounts
-Categorizes spending so you can see where the money is going
-Suggestions for other financial products and services
What are Expense Tracker Apps?
Expense tracker apps are apps that you can connect to your bank accounts, as well as credit card and sometimes investment accounts. Once connected, the app will pull information from your accounts and display it for you. Generally, the apps categorize the information so you can see exactly where your money is going. Many of them also feature graphs and charts to make it easy to visualize your spending.
Depending on the tracker, you might also get access to other features. Some trackers will help you see how much money you have left to spend before you overdraw your account, while others will help you invest a portion of the money you’re not spending.
No matter the app, though, the idea is to help you see where your money is going so you can make better choices in the future.
Most Important Features to Look for in an Expense Tracker App
When choosing an expense tracker, consider your individual needs and the features you want. Here are some things to think about:
- Types of accounts tracked. Decide which accounts you want to be tracked. Do you just want your bank account tracked, or do you want to see your credit card spending as well? Additionally, while it’s not exactly an expense to track your investments, some trackers do this, and some people like to see the big picture. Decide if you want a complete financial picture, with investments, as well as spending accounts.
- Tools and features. Think about the tools and features you want in your expense tracker app. Do you want tools that help you budget as well as show you where your money is going? Do you like the idea of an app letting you know when you’re approaching your spending limits? Carefully consider what makes sense for you as you evaluate the features.
- Fees. In some cases, it might be worth it to pay some fees if your expense tracker app comes with extra features that you’ll use. On the other hand, if you just want a basic app that only tracks your expenses and displays your commonly used categories, it might make more sense to save money.
How Did We Choose the Best Expense Tracker Apps?
We reviewed different apps with a variety of features and price points to find apps that could meet various needs. We looked at fees, usability, and tools in order to come up with a list that is likely to have something in it for many readers. There’s a good chance at least one of the apps on this list will meet your expense tracking needs.
Which Expense Tracker App is Best For You?
There’s no expense tracker app that is best for everyone. The app that works best for you is one that provides you with the tools and features you’ll use at a price point you can afford. In some cases, it might make sense to start with a free app and get a feel for how it works. Then you can identify which features might be missing and then look for a paid app that fills those gaps.
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Choosing the right expense tracker app for you includes considering your needs and looking for an app that meets those requirements. Decide where you’re likely to get the most value, even if you end up paying to use the app.
In the end, an expense tracker app is designed to help you see your spending and identify patterns that could be holding you back financially. Once you can see your expenses laid out, it’s much easier to figure out what spending is causing you problems so that you can make adjustments and start putting your money toward your goals.