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Budgeting Apps for iPhone

Budgeting Apps for Mobile Devices

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I’ve compiled the most intriguing budgeting apps I could find for iPhone in this article. I’ve added a few key metrics such as the price, star rating and a major pro and con for each app. Each budget app has a link that will take you directly to the Apple store so you can check it out for yourself.

Selecting the right mobile budgeting tool up front is important to limit having to become accustomed to differing, and possibly compromising, technologies. Some budget apps succeed at the functionality and price point aspects but fail miserably at preserving your privacy. Others allow you to protect your data but lack the ability to transition your budgeting efforts across multiple platforms.

One thing I would like to address up front is that I receive no compensation for any of my recommendations… I have no relationship with Apple or any of the app developers. This article is purely based on my opinion… and frankly some of my reviews are pretty blunt so I doubt the developers would pay me for my thoughts anyway.

Top iPhone Budgeting Apps

Truebill Budget & Bill Tracker

After having written a few articles on this subject, this app has always been the one that intrigues me most. On top of having the standard budgeting capabilities and average price point there are also several innovative features. Some of these features include:

– Tracking your subscriptions and negotiating lower rates on your behalf.
– Allowing you to take a ‘pay advance’ from Truebill itself up to $100.
– The ability to pay yourself in a Truebill account that is FDIC insured.
– Automated alerts based on your budget categories and linked accounts.

Link to Truebill Budget & Bill Tracker

Stars: 4.5 / 5.0 Stars (31,000 Reviews)

Price: $3 to $12 a month depending on the package

Major Pro: Truly unique and innovative features such as ‘pay advance,’ allowing you to take an actual pay advance from Truebill up to $100.

Major Con: Some of the features such as Bill Negotiation may result in unwanted or unintended fees or service change as reported by various reviews on the Apple Store.

Firstly: Budget & Manage Money

Need a budgeting app to share with your spouse or… children? Firstly allows you to do it with its iPhone app. This app places the family budget firmly back into the hands of the family. The app is geared towards helping spouses share responsibility for the family finances while also being an aide to help teach the young ones how to budget like their parents.

Now, all these great capabilities seem to come at a cost… the app is free, and they sell your personal information to make money. This may not bother you, but if you get your children enrolled, they may end up paying unknown consequences down the road due to giving up their privacy.

Link to Firstly: Budget & Manage Money

Stars: 4.3 / 5.0 (500 Reviews)

Price: Free (Data Privacy Agreement)

Major Pro: The ability to share your budget with your family across multiple platforms (web and iPhone app) gives you the flexibility to keep the whole crowd engaged.

Major Con: The app is free with no clear communication on how it makes money. When looking at its privacy notice, there are 9 categories of information that they list they collect including things like names, addresses, unique personal identifiers, and geolocation data. That’s a lot of data for a budgeting app!

Pennies – Budget and Expenses

This is a simple app which makes it easy to budget if you are interested in sticking completely to the Apple ecosystem. At $4.99, not monthly… just one time, it is incredibly affordable and does not appear to sell your data.

One of the neat features of this app is that you can budget on the go with your Apple Watch. This empowers you (ahem, ‘limits your excuses’) to budget on the go. No longer will you have to try and piece together how much you spent hours or days after it happened.

Link to Pennies – Budget and Expenses

Stars: 4.6 / 5.0 (1,500 Reviews)

Price: $4.99

Major Pro: Although it doesn’t currently have web access to your data, you can access your budget directly on your Apple watch which is a novel feature that could help result in a better financial outcome when you can’t have a phone with you.

Major Con: There is no cross-platform support for the app (e.g., web, Android, desktop).

Fudget: Budget Planner Tracker

Fudget is quite the perplexing app. It has some great features in that it is incredibly easy to use and is available across pretty much any platform you can think of. The price is very affordable at $5.99 a month (or cheaper with an annual subscription) but it comes with a few major caveats.

First, the app doesn’t allow you to categorize your spending. This is an interesting ‘feature’ since most budgets revolve around categorizing purchases. The utility of this app seems to take a hit on that front.. but it should be noted that it appears there are 500,000 paying customers (according to the developer) so it must be useful somehow.

Fudget’s privacy policy is better than most. It doesn’t appear that they actively sell any information but their main developer page with links to the various apps isn’t secured by an SSL certificate. What this means is that the links on the page to the various versions of the app could very easily become compromised… or could already be hacked… who knows.

Make sure you download the app from a reputable source (go directly to the Apple Store or Google Play) because the links on the main page should not be trusted.

This is a sad oversight that is ironically addressed by the developer on the privacy page: “We do not need an SSL because: We only ask for name and / or email address when you join the mailing list.”  This is ridiculous and it makes me concerned about other decisions about how the app is implemented.

Link to Fudget: Budget Planner Tracker

Stars: 4.8 / 5.0 (6,400 Reviews)

Price: $5.99 a Month

Major Pro: Low monthly price with excellent cross-platform capability (iPhone, Mac, Android, Windows)

Major Con: This app bucks the trend of many personal finance main stays to keep simplicity front and center… unfortunately budget categories don’t exist in this app. Also, the main website doesn’t even have an SSL certificate which is just fascinating in the modern era… other design choices come into question because of this.

Prism Pay Bills, Bill Reminder

Prism is a popular bill paying app that can also be used to implement a budget. It’s free to use and considered FinTech.. or Financial Technology… in other words a product of the big brains in Silicon Valley. That said, its not real clear how they earn a living so you should keep a close eye on data you fork over.

By using the app, you can link all your outgoing payments in one app. The idea is that the app will help you minimize or eliminate late fees. Ironically, it doesn’t allow recurring payments which may be a hard sell for most folks. Somehow this app has garnered many positive reviews, so although I’m not excited about it there may be utility in it for some readers out there.

Link to Prism

Stars: 4.7 / 5.0 (30,000 Reviews)

Price: Free (Does not appear to sell data, unclear how they earn money)

Major Pro: If you find yourself with a large number of late fees each month, this app’s reviews suggest it definitely can help you.

Major Con: How this app makes money is unclear. Its free to use which is always a warning sign, however the site says it doesn’t sell your personal information… but Apple has a warning on its download page that the developer uses data to “Track you.”

 YNAB (You Need a Budget)

YNAB, also known by its longer name of “You Need a Budget,” is a budgeting app with a purpose. The app has a budgeting philosophy you can read about on its website which explains how and why the app is designed the way it is.

In essence, YNAB has developed its app to be more of a personal finance ‘system,’ and as such is great for new entrants into budgeting. The app is available across all major platforms and ecosystems but relies heavily on at least casual use of a web browser. You can conduct most budgeting activities from the app but will need to log into the website to do the major lifting.

Link to YNAB (You Need a Budget)

Stars: 4.8 / 5.0 (36,000 Reviews)

Price: $11.99 per month

Major Pro: Long history of success with an active community. Cross-platform and cloud support ensures you will be able to use YNAB for the long haul.

Major Con: You will not be able to rely on the app by itself… you will eventually and routinely have to log onto the web interface to conduct major tasks effectively.

 What to Watch Out For

  • The True Cost in Addition to the Price
    The inconvenient truth for many apps, including apps geared towards personal finance, is that they are marketed as ‘free’ however do extract a dear price from their users. A quote that you should keep in mind when tempted to download and trust a free app with your financial data is: “You are not the customer, you are the product.”

    That said, as shown above, there are several solid budget app options at the low end of the price spectrum (e.g. the Pennies app only charges a 1 time fee of $4.99).  Be sure you at least skim any disclaimers, particularly if you link your bank accounts… who knows where that information will eventually end up.

  • Cyber Security / Security
    Understanding how cyber security is addressed by your budgeting app, especially if your data is being stored in the cloud, is paramount. Perhaps you trust the app you’ve chosen not to sell your information, but what happens if they lose it? Worse yet, what happens if they lose it and don’t even know they’ve lost it?

    Unfortunately, I don’t have fool proof advice on how to assess whether an app is properly securing your information, but they should at least be describing what actions they are taking. This is the bare minimum they can do, and you should not choose an app that doesn’t list it as a priority (again, only for cloud focused solutions).


  • Cross-Platform Compatibility
    Budgeting on a LaptopAn oft overlooked feature is the ability to budget in other places than just your smartphone. This includes iPads, Macs, PC’s, web browsers, Androids and on down the line. If you or someone in your family changes from Apple to Android, how does that impact your budget?

    Is completing your budget exclusively from a smartphone enough? Or do you need to be able to input data from a web browser to do the heavy lifting?

    Ensuring that you have the right tools to undertake your budget properly includes ensuring accessibility from all the devices you use on a regular basis.

Final Thoughts on iPhone Budget Apps

Budgeting on a SmartphoneBringing your budget to your phone can be a big piece of implementing a strong personal finance solution aimed towards getting visibility on your spending. Being able to see where you stand in each of your spending categories immediately before, during, or after a transaction can turn the tide on bad decision making.

Keep in mind that downloading and using any financial app could have substantially negative consequences. Free apps are often loaded with terrible privacy disclosure practices. Additionally, cloud-based apps bear an ever-increasing threat from bad actors trying to steal their (and thus ‘your’) information.

Be sure you understand the risks before you hand over your data. Also, if your children are involved, then read the small print as well (I know, I know… don’t get me started).

All that said, there are some wildly different budgeting apps available above… some I wouldn’t possibly use myself but could be perfect for others. I hope you enjoyed this article… if you have any other iPhone budget or personal finance apps that you use then throw them in the comments and I can see about adding it to the list.

Guy Money

As a formally trained Data Scientist I find excitement in writing about Personal Finance and how to view it through a lens filtered by data. I am excited about helping others build financial moats while at the same time helping to make the world a more livable and friendly place.

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