The 11 Best Finance Apps of 2021
Keeping track of your own personal finances can be overwhelming — especially if you have multiple bill payments, bank accounts, and investment accounts spread across numerous providers. It’s easy to lose track of money as it flows in and out on a daily basis.
Ultimately, every dollar counts when it comes to personal finance. If you want to save money, avoid missing payments, and grow your wealth, it’s important to stay vigilant and do your best to stick to a monthly budget.
For many, this is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are many personal finance apps for Android and iOS that include budgeting features you can use to improve the way you manage your personal finances.
Best Personal Finance Apps Right Now
A personal finance app is an app that you can use to manage your personal finances right from a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop.
These apps use powerful algorithms to help you track spending habits over time across different categories, view your account balances, stay up to date with bills, and stick to a budget. Most of them are very user-friendly and offer a free version of the product as well as a premium version that has additional features.
These apps work by syncing with your individual accounts, giving you custom tracking and forecasting tools.
We’ve listed our top apps in the list below and have broken them into three distinct sections: budgeting apps, credit score apps, and investment apps.
- Credit Karma
- Credit Sesame
- Personal Capital
- Charles Schwab
Best Budgeting Apps
Making a goal to stick to a budget is one thing. Actually doing it is quite another. Mobile apps can help you keep a close eye on your cash flow and bills, helping to prevent you from overspending on items like Apple Watches and iPhones when you should really be using budget devices and parking your extra cash in an FDIC-insured account so you can meet your savings goals.
You Need a Budget (YNAB)
YNAB is one of the most popular budgeting tools for consumers. What sets YNAB apart from other apps is that it focuses on teaching you how to manage money and establish healthy long-term financial habits instead of just limiting your spending.
YNAB has some great features — like budget sharing, goal tracking, custom reports and personalized support. In fact, there are over 100 free online workshops available to browse.
Another great budgeting tool to consider is Digit, an app that analyzes your daily spending and automatically saves the ideal amount every day.
Using Digit, you can set individual goals like planning for a vacation, paying off credit cards, paying down credit cards, or setting money aside so that it can grow.
This app is particularly useful for investors who don’t know where they should be allocating money and when. For example, Digit tells you how much is available in your checking account, how much you have in upcoming bills, and whether you are in a position to put money aside.
PocketGuard is another app that you can use for budgeting. PocketGuard breaks down budgeting to its most important element: letting you know how much money you have leftover for spending. It’s a simple, user-friendly app that can be used to provide a quick snapshot of your personal financial situation. In addition, PocketGuard lets you track your spending, enabling you to view your habits over time and lower your bills.
Best Credit Score Apps
For many consumers, tracking a credit score is only important when planning for a big-ticket purchase like a new car or a house. Even worse, many people ignore credit altogether, thinking that they never need to rely on it. The truth is that ignoring credit can have serious repercussions — especially if you let it slide for a significant period of time.
You can use these apps to manage your credit and ensure that you remain in good standing.
Credit Sesame is an alternative credit monitoring and education app that’s also free to use.
What makes this service unique is it grades you on important credit factors, allowing you to benchmark against other borrowers. So if you are engaging in questionable borrowing habits, you’ll be able to see what you’re doing wrong and why it’s harming your credit score.
In addition, Credit Sesame gives you a free score from TransUnion, updated monthly. This prevents you from getting blindsided by a negative credit score. Credit Sesame also gives you personalized tips to manage your credit and loans, based on your profile and goals.
What’s more, Credit Sesame lets you know if you are overpaying on credit card and student loan interest, potentially putting more money in your pocket every month.
Credit Karma is a leading mobile app that provides a variety of services like ongoing credit monitoring along with insights to learn what’s affecting your credit — like missed credit card payments or too much revolving credit — and how you can improve your score. Credit Karma also offers personalized recommendations designed to encourage you to use credit more wisely.
Best of all, Credit Karma is free. The company gets paid by banks and lenders instead of having to charge consumers.
Credit.com provides access to your credit score for free, pulling credit data from 28 different FICO Scores and three different bureaus, including Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You’ll also get a free credit report card that provides helpful information about your financial situation.
Best Investment Apps
So far, we’ve covered two types of financial apps — budgeting and credit monitoring — which are two fundamental aspects of wealth building. There are also apps available for managing personal capital and bolstering your net worth.
Some of these services tend to be very robust, offering both budgeting and credit monitoring services along with tools for growing your personal capital. As a result, you can potentially consolidate your apps and reduce app overload on your phone.
The Personal Capital app is one of the most comprehensive personal finance apps on the market. It offers a variety of services for budgeting, analyzing cash flow and investments, and planning for retirement, among other things. The app also offers access to personal advisors and a net worth calculator.
In addition, Personal Capital offers socially responsible investing options for people who want to ensure that their money is being invested in companies that are dedicated not just to making money, but also helping society, the environment, and the world.
If you’re looking to grow your personal wealth through investing, then you can’t go wrong with Schwab’s mobile services. Schwab is one of the most trusted brokers on the market. The company offers a variety of secure and convenient mobile tools for checking your balance, placing trades, and monitoring opportunities. With Schwab, you can also deposit checks quickly, without having to use a third-party banking service.
In addition, Schwab provides comprehensive financial analysis backed by experienced financial professionals. Schwab can help make sure your investments are on track and provide suggestions when they are needed.
Many new personal investing apps have emerged in recent years that make it easy to trade on the go. One of the most popular services is the Robinhood app, which offers commission-free investing along with a variety of tools to help grow your bottom line.
Robinhood also offers a fun promotion: You receive a free share of stock when you sign up for their service (with limitations). Plus, Robinhood lets you buy fractional shares now — so you can buy slices of more expensive stocks that might otherwise be out of your reach if you lack the capital to buy a whole share.
Acorns is another leading investment app that investors might want to consider. The company offers subscription-based tiers. For $1 per month, you can invest spare change, set recurring investments, and leverage an automated investment account. Spending $3 per month lets you access a personal financial wellness system, including all-in-one retirement, investment, and checking services. You even get a debit card along with financial advice and more.
The third tier costs $5 per month. This tier lets you invest spare change or set amounts on a recurring portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Acorns provides access to a diverse set of stocks and bonds and offers automatic rebalancing to make sure your portfolio stays on track.
Quicken (formerly Intuit)
Intuit sold the popular Quicken platform to H.I.G. Capital in 2016, injecting capital into this popular service along with a service overhaul. With Quicken, customers can choose between a variety of personal finance tools based on tiers (Starter, Deluxe, Premier, and Home & Business).
Quicken costs more than most other personal finance programs. But the platform provides a robust and user-friendly experience with tools for viewing balances, accounts, budgets and transactions, analyzing spending trends, and viewing investment performance.
The Benefits of Using Finance Apps
There are many benefits to using personal finance apps. One of the top benefits that you’ll experience is developing a money mindset.
In other words, the more you use finance apps, the more you think about money. Pretty soon, you’ll be grabbing your phone to check on the stock market or your savings account instead of sports scores or mobile games. As a result of that increased attention, the amount of money you have is likely to increase.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the additional benefits that you’ll gain from using finance apps.
If you don’t follow a budget, you are spending at leisure — and this is one of the most common potholes you’ll face on the path to financial independence.
Accumulating and growing wealth requires sticking to a budget and maximizing every dollar. Personal finance apps give you the insight to track spending over time, and notice bad habits and correct them so that you stop losing money on frivolous expenses.
Personal finance apps can alert you about upcoming credit card due date bill reminders. You’ll also receive custom tips for lowering your payments and the visibility and insight that you need to avoid spiraling into problem debt. Using personal finance apps can help you manage credit wisely, giving you a real-time overview of your accounts at any point in time.
Sound investing can take time — years or decades — to pay off. The sooner you start investing, and the more you put away, the better off you are in the long run.
Remember that investing leverages the concept of compound interest. Eventually, the returns that you accumulate from something like an index fund can far surpass your initial investment. Personal finance apps can get this process started for you and keep you on track.
Advice You Can Count On
Investing can be difficult and many people stumble along the way — though, to be fair, many of them make it harder than it needs to be by chasing “hot stocks” and trying to outsmart the experts, rather than just buying and holding great companies. If you fear you don’t have the temperament to be a long-term investor, certain personal finance apps can provide guidance from both robo-advisors and experienced financial professionals. You can also use personal finance apps to receive the advice you need to improve your financial situation.
Tips for Using Personal Finance Apps
Don’t Get Lazy
One of the downsides to using any mobile app is that you can get lazy. Don’t automatically assume an app is right about finance and trust it blindly. Know what the app is doing with your money and why it’s making certain decisions or recommendations.
You are the person who cares most about your finances, and you need to make sure you act that way instead of handing it off.
Technology should help manage your personal finances. It shouldn’t take over the responsibility altogether or put you on the sidelines.
Don’t Automatically Assume an App is Right
This is where using robo-advisors can get you in hot water. For example, a robo-advisor asks you questions to get to know your personal financial situation and then make decisions to grow your money or reduce risk.
Don’t be afraid to question a robo-advisor if you think that an investment is a bad decision. It’s an algorithm, after all.
Diversify Your Investments
Diversification is one of the most important things that an investor can do to manage market volatility and increase capital over time.
A personal finance app from a broker like E*TRADE or Schwab provides access to a broad range of securities, including index funds, mutual funds, individual stocks, and more. Know these various types of investments, understand how they work, and consider leveraging them to spread your money around and optimize your investments.
Avoid going all-in on any particular type of investment.
Keep Your Phone Secure
Personal finance apps typically offer strong security, and you shouldn’t feel scared about using them. However, if you conduct banking on your smartphone, make sure you keep up with general security updates and perform basic account hygiene.
Use strong passwords and exercise caution about storing data like spreadsheets and statements on your phone.
Are personal finance apps worth it?
Personal finance apps are very handy — regardless of your financial situation. Whether you’re a young investor who wants to get on track or you’re managing a family and trying to control expenses, there are apps to meet your needs.
When searching for a personal finance app, it makes sense to think about your total needs. As some of the above-mentioned apps demonstrate, certain apps provide one-off services like credit monitoring and budgeting while others roll numerous services into one.
So, if you are in dire need of budgeting, you may benefit more from a service that specializes in budgeting. If you want budgeting along with investing, look into an app like Schwab.
Are personal finance apps secure?
Most finance apps are highly secure, offering full encryption, multi-factor authentication, and strong backend features and policies. You should feel confident about trusting the names provided here.
That said, not all apps are secure. And every now and again, security vulnerabilities make their way into even the best-known apps. Be cautious when selecting personal finance apps so that your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands — especially when leveraging apps that require broad access to your financial portfolio.
Do I need a personal finance app?
You don’t need a personal finance app. But they can certainly help keep you on track with your financial progress. Options are available for new and experienced investors, providing both automated and manual investing and financial planning services.
How often should I update my budget?
Budgets are meant to be broken at the right point. Usually, this occurs when you bring in more money or reach a certain financial goal.
What you don’t want to do is become lax about following your budget. If your money starts to get tight, look for ways to operate within your budget and figure out how you can get by with less.
Every line item in your budget is flexible. It just depends on how much you’re willing to change your lifestyle.
The Bottom Line
We are living in a golden age of personal finance. There have never been more digital services available to help with money management. And more are coming to the market seemingly every day. If you’re using a smartphone, you should feel confident about using it to make and manage financial accounts.
Remember, though, that the app shouldn’t govern your entire approach to investing and personal finance. You should still use your old noggin.
That said, if you follow the tips mentioned here, you’ll be on your way to achieving financial independence — by budgeting, investing, and saving like a financial professional.