The 4 Best Free Budgeting Tools to Help You Track Your Finances

By Myles Leva

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Last Updated: January 24, 2022

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Getting into the rhythm of keeping a budget is an often-difficult task with a great payoff.

Establishing habits requires changes to many aspects of your daily planning. This is particularly true when it comes to the planning stages, such as tracking current expenses. But once established, good financial habits can work wonders on your long-term quality of life.

Because you need a budget, and budgeting tasks are hard enough at the start, why not grab some low hanging fruit?

There are several budget tools that make these tasks easier. As you would expect, they range widely in scope, quality, and cost.

So, let’s get started looking at the best free options you can start with today.

 

What are the Benefits of Using Budget Tools?

There are several kinds of tools and software solutions for budgeting:

  • Complete budget apps
  • Budget planners
  • Budget trackers
  • Tax assistance tools
  • Budget calculators
  • Financial planning apps

The benefits of each of these solutions are their simplicity, ease of access, and support in forming habits. There are a few use cases that can appeal to anyone hoping to gain more control over their finances.

For example, a budget tracker can track your expenses, normally while breaking spending down into separate expense categories. They normally take inputs such as your maximum spending in some categories. You can get notifications when you’ve broken your limits and slowly adjust your spending habits.

With a budget calculator feature, you can simply carry on spending as usual and gain insights into where your money is going. You simply record each transaction, and it gets added into your total spending on the relevant category. Then, you can see exactly what percentage of your spending goes in which direction.

When combined together, budgeting tool features provide:

  • Financial clarity
  • Visual support in decision-making
  • Tech-enhanced goal-setting
  • Long-term financial planning
  • Customizable or pre-set warnings

 

Free Budgeting Tools

Most budgeting tools are nominally “free”. This normally means one of three things:

  1. They are simply free to use, but you must view in-app ads
  2. They are built on the “freemium” model
  3. You get a free trial or limited service without payment

We will consider all of these options in the scope of this review, but will add more weight to the tools that offer more without costing you anything.

 Read this next: How to Be Richer, Not Poorer: Top 5 Financial Planning Tips For Couples

 

What Are Some Budgeting Tools?

One: Painting a Picture (TD Cash Flow Calculator)

This free tool is simply meant to help people answer the question, “where did all that money go”?

While it won’t help you plan your budget going forward, it’s a simple and useful place to start. All you need to do is input how much money you’ve spent on a regular basis. The focus is on recurring expenses, providing a big picture view of your current financial habits.

 

Two: Looking & Planning Ahead (PocketSmith)

This budget app is comprehensive, but it falls into the category of “freemium”.

However, you get an exceptional level of support with just their free offer.

PocketSmith is focused on long-term financial planning. It includes all the regular budget tracker and other features. But then it goes one step further with its forecasting abilities and tools.

How PocketSmith works is by collecting your financial information and creating forecasts. It takes the following into account:

  • Chequing and savings balances
  • Investments of all kinds
  • Current holdings/investments
  • Loans

This powerful tool can be especially useful if you feel that a lack of motivation is your main barrier to budgeting. The app will be brutally honest with you if your financial information points towards a difficult financial future.

Then, it can even be used for “what-ifs?”, where you can see how things can go differently with a different decisions.

The free version of PocketSmith is fairly comprehensive, when compared to other free options. You can use the projections feature for only up to six months ahead, however. But this is a nice free addition to an already comprehensive, yet free offer.

If you do choose to pay for their service, you can get forecasts for up to 30 years ahead. It also enables you to sync PocketSmith with your financial accounts, offering constantly updated information and projections, saving you a lot of time in collecting that information to submit to PocketSmith.

 

Three: Best Overall Budget Tool (Mint)

Mint is an industry leader in the field of budget tools. Many budget tools and reviewers use Mint as the benchmark for comparing other options.

Mint is a complete and free budget tool. It links to all your financial accounts, including chequing, savings, investment accounts, and debts. It then compiles everything into clean, understandable, and useful interfaces.

Because of the syncing option, Mint can constantly give you a complete picture of your finances. It also enables the categorization of spending and budgeting. If you’d like, the app can even create a budget for you based on your financial information.

What’s best is that all these features are free; there are no features they charge you to use.

 

Four: HoneyDue (Budgeting Tools for Couples)

If you’re looking for something more comprehensive, there’s HoneyDue. HoneyDue is a budget app meant specifically to help couples manage money together.

Couples’ HoneyDue accounts are linked together, offering customizable levels of cooperation and privacy. Couples are encouraged to communicate directly through the app, and it has a few unique features for couples.

Assuming you and your partner are on good terms, you can set customizable alerts to alert the other about exceeding established spending limits. Or, if that’s too much, you can ignore features like that and simply receive alerts about upcoming bill payment due dates at the same time.

All aspects of HoneyDue are focused on joint communication and cooperation over finances. But it includes all the standard budget tool features you’d expect from any quality budget tool.

HoneyDue is mostly free, and there are no fees or minimums for using the app.

 

Next Steps

We’ve gone over some of the most popular, well-received, and overall functional budget tools on the market.

However, there may be others that offer niche features that may interest you if you need a budget.

Overall, budget tools take a lot of the guesswork out of establishing a budget and controlling your finances. They provide the organizational framework you need to succeed; the rest is up to you.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

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