Get Your Finances on Track With the Best Budget Apps

These expert-approved budget apps will get your finances into shape.

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Best budget apps - real simple smart money awards 2020 pie chart
Giacomo Bagnara

If learning how to budget was easy, everyone would do it—really. While budgeting is one of the most reliable ways to practice financial responsibility, build wealth, and manage debt, it's also incredibly challenging. (Even good budgeters sometimes chafe at the restrictions of budgeting.)

Fortunately, budgeting successfully doesn't have to be entirely reliant on your own self-control. Because of technology, figuring out how to stick to a budget and how to save money more effectively is a whole lot smarter than it used to be. There's a budget app for everyone out there—and the best budget apps do more than just help you rein in your spending.

So we're highlighting some of the best budget apps. Whether you're trying to cut out your many subscriptions, perfect splitting the bills, or just stop arguing with your partner about money, there's a budget app out there for you.

Cleo: Best for Spotting Bad Habits

Cleo app

What It Is: "How much did I spend on takeout last week?" "Can I afford a new pair of shoes?" Connect your bank accounts to Cleo, and it will scan your transactions to help answer questions like these, as well as identify trouble areas and—most helpfully—assist with planning and sticking to a budget. This is especially useful when your income is irregular.

Why We Love It: Cleo's ability to point out where people spend heavily makes it a winner, says Gideon Drucker, CFP, author of How to Avoid H.E.N.R.Y. Syndrome: Financial Strategies to Own Your Future and a Smart Money Awards judge. "The more transparency you have with your financial behavior, the better," he says.

Clarity Money: Best for Managing Subscriptions

Clarity Money

What It Is: This budget app shows you which companies receive most of your money (looking at you, Amazon!), and it lets you set up alerts for when your paycheck posts or your account balance is low—very helpful when budgeting for rent.

Why We Love It: Clarity Money shines when it comes to subscriptions. It spots possibly forgotten recurring charges, then supplies the merchant's phone number to make canceling easier. Goldman Sachs' online bank Marcus acquired the app in 2018, so you can also swiftly funnel any saved money into a high-yield savings account, ideal if your goal is to retire early or you are providing financial support to your aging parents.

Zeta: Best for Couples Who Want to Save and Spend Together


What It Is: Zeta tracks joint bills, creates budgets, and gets you working toward shared goals—even if you don't share bank accounts. Its IOU system simplifies splitting bills and tallying expenses, helping to minimize your financial stress.

Why We Love It: Zeta puts both of you on the same financial page, whether you're paying routine bills or saving for something major (like an anniversary trip or a down payment on a new home). "This one gets top marks because it helps couples reach joint money goals while maintaining financial autonomy if they have separate accounts," says Smart Money Awards judge Cathy Derus, CPA at Brightwater Accounting. Pair this with a set of money questions to help get you both on track.

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