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Staying organized: The best apps for money management

Jan. 10, 2021
9 min read
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

When all you have is a debit card, checking how much you're spending and how much money you have left is easy. Your bank account balance almost immediately reflects your transactions in one place. But when you add credit cards into the mix — as you should, as soon as you're able to use them responsibly — things get a little more complicated.

Your bank account balance might read $1,000, but if your credit cards have balances of $600 on them, it's easy to fool yourself into thinking you have more money than you actually do. Throw in balances in apps such as Venmo, Apple Pay or even savings apps including Robinhood and Acorns, and things get even more convoluted.

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But fear not! There are several good ways of helping keep track of your assets and liabilities, or your net worth. Here are a few to help keep your spending in order.

Simplifi by Quicken

(Screenshot courtesy of Quicken)

The Simplifi by Quicken app gives users a consolidated snapshot of their finances, right at their fingertips. The app can connect to more than 14,000 financial institutions, allowing users access to their bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments all in one place. It also automatically categorizes your transactions so you know where your money is going. The app makes it easy to find and track recurring bills and subscriptions that can be canceled when you no longer use them. You can also view upcoming bills, income and transfers to see how they affect your balances.

Zeta Money Manager

Couples who want a better picture of their joint and separate finances should consider downloading the Zeta Money Manager app. It supports more than 10,000 U.S. institutions to track your individual and joint accounts and give you the fullest picture of your finances. The app shows where your money is going, allows you to message your partner on specific transactions, split purchases and keep a tally and even manage your bills together. You can create shared goals, bill-paying reminders, individual and joint budgets and create custom categories.

Mint

(Photo courtesy of iTunes)

Mint is still one of the most popular spending apps on the marker. Everything is laid out neatly in the app and the desktop versions. Like most other money-organizing apps, Mint keeps track of your account balances by linking all your credit cards, your bank accounts and/or Venmo, loans, investments and even property. At any given time, you can check Mint and see exactly how much money you have across all your accounts.

Related: Venmo just launched a lucrative cash-back credit card — 5 things you should know

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Mint allows you to personally categorize your transactions across all your accounts to better paint a picture of your spending habits, whereas your credit card statement might only sort transactions into a handful of less-specific categories. This feature also helps when sorting Venmo transactions, as you can differentiate between the $50 you earned helping your friend move and the $50 you were reimbursed after paying for lunch.

From a credit score perspective, Mint helps you stay on top of everything from the factors affecting your score to your outstanding bills, their due dates and your total available credit. The service also advertises cards that fit your credit profile and spending habits.

Related reading: How credit scores work

One of Mint's most useful features is the budgeting tool. You can use the same categories that filter transactions to create a specific monthly budget. Mint will send you notifications if you go over your budget in certain categories, and it's easy to log in and see your progress. There's also a goals feature, which allows you to set specific savings goals and track the progress you've made.

Cost: Free

PocketGuard

(Photo courtesy of iTunes)
(Photo courtesy of iTunes)

PocketGuard is very similar to Mint, offering both an app and a desktop service to help you keep on top of your spending, net worth, budget and goals. While PocketGuard isn't as well laid-out as Mint, you still can categorize your transactions any way you'd like, and the app will help you stay within your budget by sending notifications and providing visuals to show you how much you're spending overall and within each category.

On the downside, PocketGuard doesn't show your credit score and lacks some basic functionality. While it's still a good option for finding your net worth and keeping track of your spending, there's nothing that PocketGuard offers that you can't get using Mint.

Cost: Free (a PocketGuard Plus version with additional features like pocket cash tracking is available for $3.99 a month or $34.99 a year).

Related: 4 Ways to check your credit score for free

Albert

(Photo courtesy of iTunes)
(Photo courtesy of iTunes)

Unlike Mint and PocketGuard, Albert is an app with no desktop version. Albert acts somewhat as a personal financial assistant, sending you texts and notifications about your spending habits, budget and bills.

Like with PocketGuard and Mint, you can sort your transactions into customizable categories to help you better budget and track spending. You can easily find your net worth, and the app creates an "Albert Score" to show you how well you're meeting your budgeting goals.

Albert places a particular emphasis on saving, encouraging you to put aside money in a rainy day fund by automatically depositing set amounts of cash into a savings account on a regular basis.

Cost: Free (Genius membership, which gets you access to personalized advice from a team of financial experts, is available for a small monthly fee that you decide upon sign-up).

YNAB (you Need A budget)

(Photo courtesy of iTunes)
(Photo courtesy of iTunes)

YNAB, one of the most popular personal finance apps, follows the principle that every dollar needs a job. Through their app (available in both the App Store and Google Play), desktop site and Amazon Echo add-on, you can manage your budget.

The four rules YNAB enforces are:

  1. Give every dollar a job
  2. Embrace your true expenses
  3. Roll with the punches
  4. Age your money

Users can link their personal accounts so their available balances can be put into the software's debt manager. All of their income and account balances are split up into user-created categories to dedicate funds towards expenses such as groceries or transportation.

YNAB also includes an API to their services to allow users to access more personalized budgeting features.

The service also offers a collection of videos, articles and daily live workshops to help those interested in budgeting to be successful. YNAB claims that new users save $600 in the first two months and $6,000 in the first year.

Cost: 34 days free then $11.99/month or $83.99/year

Related: What budgeting technique is right for you?

Personal Capital

(Photo courtesy of iTunes)
(Photo courtesy of iTunes)

Personal Capital is best known for its investment features. However, this app is also great for budgeting as well. The app allows users to access advice from automated and human financial advisors.

The app also tracks all of your income and expenses which are then separated into categories so you can see where you're spending money. Some features included in Personal Capital are a retirement planner, asset classes. an analysis of your investment fees.

You can see your net worth, bills that you need to pay and your current portfolio through the dashboard.

Cost: Free

DIY Spreadsheet

(Photo courtesy of iTunes)
(Photo courtesy of iTunes)

If using an app seems like too much of a bother, or if you'd rather track your expenses by yourself, it's easy to create a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets that keeps track of your net worth.

Creating a spreadsheet is relatively simple. All you have to do is make columns for all of your assets and liabilities, and then create a simple algorithm that calculates the difference. You'll have to update the information yourself, and it doesn't have a built-in budgeting feature, but it's a simple way of making sure you know your net worth.

Cost: Free!

Related reading: The emotional psychology around money with behavioral finance expert Michael Liersch

Bottom line

There are several options out there for helping you manage your money, whether you're a college kid with a tight budget or a professional with a yearly salary. While some of these apps have paid add-ons, they can all be used without spending a dime.

Having a credit card can often be daunting, as keeping track of your expenses is no long as easy as just checking your bank account app. Don't get bogged down or intimidated, and don't succumb to accidentally spending more than you can pay back. Using any one of these apps to organize and track your spending will undoubtedly help you stay on top the game.

Related reading:

How to take a vacation on a budget

What is an emergency fund?

From debt to over 20 credit cards: the story of my personal finance journey

Featured image by (Photo by McLittle Stock/Shutterstock)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023