For so many people, budgeting is a constant source of stress. It’s more like staying on top of your finances rather than getting ahead. However that nuance is often lost when you’re struggling to pay bills and juggle multiple accounts.
The good news is that there are many tools available that can help make this process easier. The bad news is that many tools available promise to make this process more manageable but don’t hold up their end of the bargain. So, where do you start? There are several factors to consider when choosing a budgeting app for yourself or your family.
The first step in deciding which budgeting tool will work best for you or your family. Do you need to track spending across an unlimited number of accounts? Or are you happy with just a few? Do you need the app on your phone, or will doing everything on your laptop be okay?
Here are some factors to consider when selecting a budgeting app.
More money means more features.
This is pretty straightforward. If there is no limit to how much money you have to budget, paying for additional features might not be painful. But if cash flow is tight and every little bit helps, it’s probably best to find something that works without all the bells and whistles.
Is the app for your family or personal use?
A lot of these great online tools allow multiple users to access them! Do you have a spouse, partner, business partner, or dependents that rely on your income? Start giving them a little more say in the budgeting process.
Do you work with other people who need to track spending across accounts too? Find a system that allows for this. When all things are split 50/50 (and even if they’re not), it’s nice to know everyone is on the same page and using the same system.
What type of bank do you use?
This one is pretty self-explanatory; the app you choose should be compatible with your financial institution. Most banks allow their customers to connect their online banking system into budgeting tools. If yours doesn’t, make sure there’s an option to enter transactions directly on the site.
Where will you be using the budgeting app?
Do you do everything on your laptop, or are you mobile? Good news is that many of the best budget app are optimized for mobile use. If you’re constantly plugged in at home, then a full blown app/software platform is probably best for you. However, if you’re carrying around a phone all day with limited storage space or aren’t that tech-savvy, then an online platform might be better suited to your needs.
Especially considering some apps require access to GPS services which can drain your battery life fairly quickly. There’s also the option of doing everything within a spreadsheet. It has fewer features but allows users more control over how they set things up.
What kind of security measures do you need?
Another obvious one here. What payment information do you store in this account? If you’re keeping track of spending and don’t plan to transfer funds or use the budget app to pay bills, your security needs will be lower than someone storing credit card information.
Which features are most important for your personal use?
There’s no shortage of options out there – here are some factors that might help you narrow it down if you’re lost:
- Ability to sync across multiple devices
- Customizable budgets with notifications for exceeding limits
- Ability to set up sub-accounts such as groceries, gas, and rent
- Mobile compatibility and Dashboard overviews
- Reporting tools and multiple account support
- Cloud backup capabilities
Considerations for a Budgeting App – Summary
The article has helped identify the most critical factors to consider when choosing a budgeting app for your needs. Be sure to select the best based on the factors mentioned above. There are a ton to choose from, so it is ok to be picky.
For more articles like this, visit the financial planning section of the site.