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Best Budgeting Apps in Canada

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Budgeting apps help millions of Canadians track their spending from their smartphones or laptops. In fact, apps are a recommended budgeting tactic in a recent WealthRocket survey that found 19% of Canadians feel their finances are out of control.

In essence, they aim to help people organize and keep tabs on their finances, in an effort to make sense of where exactly their money goes each month.

In this article by WealthRocket, we’ll detail the best budgeting apps in Canada, as well as what a budgeting app is, and why they can be useful for the average Canadian.

The best budgeting apps for Canadians

Below, you’ll find a list of apps that work with various Canadian financial institutions, such as Canada’s “Big Five” banks, independent banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.

While the apps on this list are among the most accessible, it is always best to double-check with the particular app before determining whether it will successfully sync with the financial products you specifically own.

Now, we’ll take a look at the best budgeting apps in Canada.

1. Best budgeting app in Canada: Mint

Note: Mint will be shutting down as of January 1, 2024.

Mint is a money management program based in the United States and available in the United States and Canada. As one of the first budgeting apps, Mint was one of Canada’s first financial and budgeting apps, debuting in 2007.

Mint is owned by Intuit, a financial software company that offers products such as Quickbooks, Turbo Tax, and Credit Karma.

As a mobile and desktop app, Mint offers a complete overview of your financial situation by synching your chequing accountssaving accountscredit cards, debts, and more.

By synching your financial products, Mint keeps track and organizes your spending, while helping you stay on track with your budget.

Mint alerts users if it detects any suspicious spending or a low account balance through a sleek and easy-to-use interface. It provides consistent accuracy when it comes to the tracking of expenses and bills, with even the option to set up customizable saving goals.

When it comes to creating a monthly budget, Mint really shines. Mint can auto-categorize your spending based on trends it notices.

If it miscategorizes your spending initially, it is smart enough to correct itself as you continue to use the app, and it gets to know you better as a user.

Mint is available through the Google Play Store and the Apple Store for Android and iOS. It is also available via desktop through Mint’s website. It is entirely free to use.

2. Best professional budgeting app: YNAB

You Need a Budget (YNAB) is somewhat of a cult classic on the personal finance scene. In fact, thanks to its unique philosophy, it seems to have inspired an entire generation of money-savvy spenders.

Let’s start this out by saying that, unlike many budgeting apps, YNAB is not free and instead costs $84* per year to use, with the option of a free 30-day trial.

It should go without saying that a budgeting app that charges its users should have a lot to show for itself, and YNAB certainly does.

True to its name, YNAB provides users with a tailored budget through their intuitive mobile app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices.

YNAB can track your bank accounts and craft the ideal budget for you based on your spending habits. It tailors a budget to your long-term and short-term financial goals as well.

YNAB grants customers the option to sync their bank accounts automatically. That’s not the only way to use the app, however. It’s also possible to enter your information manually if that’s more within your comfort zone.

From here, YNAB will take you through its “quick setup” feature, which will suggest to you commonly-used budgeting categories create the ideal budget for you.

Besides its clever budgeting service, YNAB also offers goal tracking and instructional videos centered around financial literacy. YNAB is also well-known for its high quality of customer service.

If you are willing to take your financial future seriously, YNAB is worth its modest yearly fee.

3. Best budgeting app for paid features: PocketGuard

Albeit a lesser-known budgeting app, PocketGuard is one of the best budgeting apps available. It consistently ranks among Forbes’ Best Budgeting Apps list.

PocketGuard is available for free download through the iOS Store and the Google Play Store. You can also access your account through the PocketGuard website via desktop.

PocketGuard’s mission as a budgeting app is to help users combat habits that lead to overspending. It grants users the option of connecting their chequing accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, and more.

Upon setting up, the app analyzes where the majority of your spending happens and will make recommendations as to where you should cut back. It will also help you track your bills by reminding you before they are due.

PocketGuard also offers the unique “In My Pocket” feature, which grants its users an estimate of how much money they have available for everyday spending.

The app uses a list of factors, such as your budgeted amounts and your income, to calculate how much money you can afford to spend on any given day.

For those who cannot get enough of micro budgeting tools, PocketGuard also offers visualizations such as a spending pie-chart, which shows you which categories you have spent the most money in over the past month.

Finally, PocketGuard provides a free and a paid version.

What is a budgeting app?

So, what exactly is a budgeting app? The answer is pretty straightforward. A budgeting app is a mobile or desktop application that allows people to track their spending. Typically, budgeting apps categorize expenses to grant users insight into where every last penny goes. Many budgeting apps will help provide some form of financial planning as well.

How do budgeting apps work?

Generally speaking, there are two types of budgeting apps: those that automatically sync with your banking and investing products and those that require manual input for each transaction.

For budgeting apps that connect to your banking and investing accounts, you’ll get a precise reading on all of your financial health in real-time. What this means is that a budgeting app will help you visualize and manage your money without having to lift a finger. The downside is that you’re more likely to neglect the act of tracking your budget, as there is no manual factor.

A budgeting app that requires the user to enter information or track your bills manually is much more effective. While this requires more work and commitment on behalf of the user, it helps create a habit of conscious spending.

Why should I use a budgeting app?

While the idea of seeing your financial accounts on such a scrutinizing level may seem intimidating, taking this approach can actually help you save money.

If you have always struggled with making and sticking to a budget, an app can help you base your spending plan around what you can realistically spend every month, not what you wish you spent. An app can also help you track your bills and meet certain financial goals.

While it’s true that a budgeting app can help you track your spending habits and pick up on financial patterns in your lifestyle, a good budgeting app won’t leave you guessing. Instead, you will likely be able to connect your bank accounts to get a precise reading on all of your financial accounts in real-time. What this means is that a budgeting app will help you visualize and manage your money without having to lift a finger.

Unlike a traditional spreadsheet, a budgeting app does not require you to enter information or track your bills manually.

Our final thoughts

Whether or not you decide to use a budgeting app, creating a roadmap for your spending takes time and effort. There’s no other way around it.

A budgeting app won’t cement your chances of spending below your means. In fact, a spreadsheet or pen and paper might even be more effective.

Going through your finances over the past month and seeing where your money goes makes the biggest difference. Different budgeting techniques, such as the “50/30/20” rule might help increase your chases of success.

In any case, never give up. After all, things that are worth doing take time and patience.

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