Personal Finance

Best Budgeting Apps and Tools on the Market

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The best budgeting apps in Canada can give you a snapshot of your finances, help break the cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck and help invest for the future. Track your spending by finding the best budget app.

It’s no secret that successful budgeting is key to managing your money. But when it comes to the best budgeting apps in Canada, it’s not “one-size-fits-all.” A budget can help curb overspending, save for the future, and, more importantly, help you sleep soundly at night. We can’t all be Excel wizards, but by signing up for the best budget app, you’ve got a financial manager at your fingertips – literally.

Some apps are designed to help with savings. Others will adjust your budget to your circumstances. Here is a round-up of the best budget apps on the market.

The 7 Best Budget Apps for 2023

Budget AppBest ForStandout Feature
You Need a Budget (YNAB)Best Budgeting App OverallHelps you break the “paycheck-to-paycheck” cycle
AmpliMoney BackFree app puts money back into your pocket
PocketSmithBig Picture PlanningForecast cash flow up to 30 years in the future
PocketGuardFree AppAfter paying bills and savings, the free app calculates what’s left in your pocket
WalletFor iPhone UsersGives you the big picture of your spending habits
SpendeeFor Android UsersHelps you save for big-ticket items, such as a dream vacation
MokaInvestingOffers a simple, automatic solution to investing

Best Budget App Overall: You Need a Budget

YNAB

If you are serious about tracking your money and living within your budget, You Need A Budget (YNAB) is the app for you. It’s incredibly comprehensive: helping you balance your income and expenses and prioritize short, medium, and long-term financial goals.

YNAB gives users an option to sync the app directly to their bank accounts or manually enter transactions. The app will budget the money you actually have in your account. Each dollar is then given “a job,” whether that’s covering your rent, paying your Netflix account, or saving for a dream vacation. The end goal is to help you break the “paycheck-to-paycheck cycle” and gain control over your spending. YNAB also offers online tutorials, such as mastering your credit cards.

According to YNAB, new budgeters save on average $600 in their first two months and more than $6,000 their first year. You can also try YNAB free for 34 days. The app can be easily downloaded to your iPhone, Android, iPad, and Apple Watch – so you have no excuse not to keep track of your spending.

Best Budget App for Money Back: Ampli

Ampli is a great tool for saving (and earning) money. Every time you shop at a select retailer, Ampli automatically rewards you with cash back for your eligible purchases. It’s free and easy to set up. Just download the app (Android and iOS compatible) and then link your credit and debit cards. Currently, you can link debit and credit cards from over 130 different Canadian financial institutions to your Ampli account, allowing you to maximize your rewards-earning potential.

Once you open the app, you’ll see dozens of special online or in-store cash back offers from major Canadian retailers like Rexall, WestJet, Roots, and Indigo.ca. Best of all, you don’t need to “activate offers” or upload receipts as you do with some rewards apps. Make an eligible purchase, and you’ll automatically be credited with the cash back amount. The app also has special monthly prizes and cash back contests too. Once you earn a minimum of $15, Ampli will send your earnings to your bank account via Interac e-transfer.

What’s phenomenal about Ampli is that you can earn cash back on top of other rewards you were already earning with another loyalty program. This ability to “double-dip” is what sets Ampli apart from other apps. It’s a great way to leverage your everyday spending and put some extra change into the money jar each month.

Best Budget App for Big Picture Planning: PocketSmith

The PocketSmith app is available on iOs and Android or through your browser. The app has three pricing tiers ranging from free to $19.95 per month (less if paid annually), depending on the functionality you need. Here’s some good news: Young and Thrifty readers who sign up for PocketSmith get 50% off a monthly Premium subscription for the first two months.

Once you sign up for PocketSmith, connect all of your financial accounts. It supports over 12,000 institutions worldwide, so there’s a good chance your bank is covered.

After linking your accounts, PocketSmith will import both real-time and historical transaction data to get a clear vision of your finances. You can then categorize spending, add labels or annotations any way you want, and use Pocketmith’s tools suite to help plan and evaluate your future finances.

Best Free Budget App: PocketGuard

The selling feature of PocketGuard is its simplicity. It categorizes items, lets you create custom categories, and sets spending limits – like on bars and restaurants.

The app then calculates what’s left “In My Pocket,” and on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you can see how much money is left in your wallet. Use the expense reports to see which areas of your budget are using too much money. You can customize the reports with custom categories and hashtags to be personalized to you. Also, look at what merchant is costing you the most money. You may be able to cut that expense out entirely.

PocketGuard helps you develop a personalized strategy to pay off your debts, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages. It lets you see how many payment cycles are left until you’re debt-free.

The feature helps in two patterns: the highest interest (avalanche) and the highest debt (snowball) first. It will track payments on all specified debts, keep the payoff plan up to date, and provide optimization based on your financial situation.

It’s available on iOS and Android.

Best Budget App for iPhone: Wallet

wallet

Wallet by BudgetBakers links to your banking accounts to give you the big picture of your spending habits. The app’s colourful graphs offer easy-to-understand insight into all your finances, including credit and debit cards, debt, and cash. Once you have your spending under control, Wallet shows you how to plan for the future and set a tangible goal, which then helps you stay on track. You can see your spending in real-time and spot spending habits that you may want to change. It also lets you rate how expenses made you feel and assign them emotions (as you’d guess, the dislike emotion is a poop emoji).

You’ll need a paid version of the app to synch to your bank account, which costs US$4.99 per month or US$28.99 annually. The paid version lets you share your account with others.

Best Budget App for Android: Spendee

spendee

Spendee is a beautifully designed app geared toward helping you better understand (and control) your financial habits. Similar to other budgeting apps, Spendee links to your bank and tracks your cash flow using brightly coloured charts and diagrams.

Users can set budgets for various categories, and Spendee will even provide a daily budget to help keep your money on track. Spendee will track E-Wallet and crypto wallet. You can set up customizable alerts and link your Spendee account to multiple users – perfect for families or households.

Their smart budgets feature helps you save for bigger items, such as a car or dream vacation. The app even lets you upload a photo of what you’re saving for added motivation. For their added features, you’ll need to sign up for Spendee Plus at US$14.99 per year or Spendee Premium at US$22.99 per year. A basic version is also available on Android and also iOS.

Best Budget App for Investing: Moka (formerly Mylo)

Tracking your cash flow is hard enough on its own. But throw investing into the mix, and it can be enough to make you throw your hands in the air. Fortunately, Moka makes investing less painful. This Canadian-designed app offers a simple, automatic solution to investing.

It links to your financial accounts, and each time you use your debit or credit cards, it rounds up the total to the nearest dollar, then invests the difference. The app lets you create goals like saving up for a house. That no-whip Frappuccino you order every morning? Moka will squirrel that spare change away in a low-cost ETF (exchange-traded fund).

The app is available on both iOS and Android. While the app is free, Moka charges a flat fee of $3, which covers the cost of its portfolio manager.

Other Budgeting Apps To Consider

Mint

Remember, budgeting apps are a tool, not a solution. Downloading one to your iPhone isn’t going to instantly transform you into the wolf of wall street. No matter which budgeting app you use, you still need the discipline — and the desire.

Mint will help design a budget you’re more likely to stick to by calculating your average spending in various categories.

Track your bills in one place, then receive alerts to your phone or email. Mint will notify you if your funds are low or of any suspicious activity. The app also comes with a free credit score. Mint is free to download and available on iOS and Android.

Wally

Wally is a free personal finance app designed to help compare and monitor your income with your outgoing expenses. The app connects to your bank accounts and then automatically categorizes your spending.

Set weekly or monthly budgets and track your day-to-day progress. Users can also add notes or scan receipts to stay organized.

Wally provides insights into your financial well-being with handy pie charts and graphs. The app is ad-free and is available on iOS and Android.

Last Word

Remember, budgeting apps are a tool, not a solution. Downloading one to your iPhone isn’t going to instantly transform you into the wolf of wall street. No matter which budgeting app you use, you still need the discipline and the desire to master your finances and create a budget that you can stick to.

Amanda Lee

Amanda Lee has been a freelance lifestyle writer for 10 years. She is the former Managing Editor of Toronto.com, which is owned by the Toronto Star. Her bylines have appeared in major Canadian publications, including the Toronto Star, WestJet Magazine and Today's Parent. As a freelance copywriter and editor, Amanda has written branded content for a number of clients, balancing editorial voice with the brand's messaging. She is currently working with RBC Ventures, creating digital content that aligns with the Royal Bank of Canada's 15 different ventures. Amanda is enrolled in an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at King's College and working on her first book.



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