In 2003, when cloud-based budgeting was in its infancy and most budgeting software still came in a box, a joint study by researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of America and the University of Kansas found that 46% of respondents used a spending plan or budget. In December 2014, just over a decade later, a Bankrate survey found that 82% of Americans kept a household budget.
What changed? In a word, Mint. Mint was the first cloud-based budgeting app to capture the public’s imagination and the model upon which many subsequent cloud budgeting apps have been based.
Mint is now an Intuit property, along with seminal personal and business finance products such as TurboTax (a top online tax prep option) and QuickBooks (probably the best-known budgeting software for small businesses). While it’s still a strong choice for committed household budgeteers, Mint no longer has a de facto monopoly on the niche, and it’s far from perfect besides. It has a lot of extraneous features that casual budgeteers don’t need, for instance, and it’s not particularly intuitive. Many alternatives are leaner and more user-friendly.
Happily, quality Mint alternatives seem to grow by the month. Before you settle on Mint – or any other digital budgeting app, for that matter – check out these options too.
Best Budgeting Apps That Aren’t Mint.com
These are the top alternatives to Mint. All are free or reasonably priced. Some follow a “freemium” model, wherein a free entry-level product complements a more robust premium version. If you can’t make do with the free option, you’ll need to decide whether a comprehensive personal budget – with its accompanying potential savings – is worth the out-of-pocket expense.
1. Personal Capital
- Plans: Budgeting and financial management tools are free
- Features and Capabilities: Account Dashboard (your hub for synced accounts and household financial analysis); Retirement Planner (custom retirement scenarios); Investment Checkup (comparing asset allocation and performance against age- and tolerance-appropriate benchmarks); Fee Analyzer (insight into the true cost of investing)
Budgeting is not Personal Capital’s moneymaker; asset management is. Personal Capital is a hybrid financial advisory platform that’s among the best-regarded human-assisted robo-advisors in the business.
But Personal Capital does have a useful suite of money management tools in a mobile-friendly package. These include:
- Account Dashboard. This is the nexus of Personal Capital’s budgeting suite. Sync your external financial accounts for insight into your household cash flow, savings rate, debt, net worth, and other key financial health metrics.
- Retirement Planner. Use this tool to estimate how much you’ll need to retire under various financial scenarios, then develop a plan to reach your goals.
- Investment Checkup. Compare your present investment portfolio allocations against ideal allocations for your age and risk tolerance to determine whether adjustments are in order.
- Fee Analyzer. Tally up hidden and not-so-hidden fund and investment management fees to see whether you’re spending more than you should to manage your investments.
Since Personal Capital is in the business of managing investments, its budgeting suite isn’t an end in and of itself. It’s more like a funnel for prospective investors, with some tools – notably, the Fee Analyzer and Investment Checkup features – explicitly designed to draw favorable distinctions with Personal Capital’s competitors. Personal Capital requires investment clients to bring at least $100,000 in investable assets to the table, so if you’ve yet to reach that threshold, you’ll have to content yourself with the platform’s free budgeting tools.
- Plans: One plan for all features and capabilities
- Features and Capabilities: Automatic syncing with over 18,000 financial sources; automatic daily spreadsheet updates with transaction data from all linked accounts; custom spreadsheet templates; custom spending categories that make sense for your financial life; auto-categorization based on custom rules set by you; daily transaction digests sent to your email inbox
Tiller is a spreadsheet-based app that directly syncs with over 18,000 financial sources, including bank accounts, brokerage accounts, employer-sponsored retirement accounts, personal loans, credit cards, and mortgages. If you bank, invest, or borrow with a U.S.-based financial institution, you’ll be able to sync most or all of your financial accounts with Tiller.
Once you’re synced, Tiller goes to work. It makes daily updates to custom-created Google or Excel spreadsheets with auto-categorized transactions pulled from your synced accounts. If you spend $10 at the sandwich shop today, for example, you’ll see it reflected in the “Dining” or “Food” category on your spreadsheet tomorrow. Since you set your own categorization rules and color scheme, you can rest assured that your spreadsheets will be easy for you to follow, and you can put an even finer point on your spending at any time by manually categorizing or recategorizing synced transactions.
If you’re not one for checking spreadsheets regularly, sign up for Tiller’s optional email alerts to get an unobtrusive digest delivered daily. You can share your Tiller spreadsheets with your spouse or financial planner too.
- Plans: Plans range from Starter (limited features) to Home & Business (all features, but Windows only)
- Features and Capabilities: All plans have an account dashboard that provides visibility into deposit and credit card accounts; automatic transaction categorization; automatic exporting to Excel; custom budget templates; and live customer support
If there’s one personal budgeting software product with higher name recognition than Mint, it’s Quicken. With a broader range of features than many of the newer entrants on this list, Quicken is ideal for serious household budgeteers and small business owners looking for cost-effective income and expense management without the CPA price tag.
That’s not to say Quicken is cheap; the Home & Business plan is among the priciest products on this list. But you get what you pay for, particularly with this plan: a slew of helpful tax and expense tools, including Schedule C and E forecasting, plus business essentials such as custom invoices and estimates with embedded payment links. You can even save rental documents directly to Quicken, making it a viable business management platform for small-time landlords.
Here’s a breakdown of Quicken’s plan options:
- Starter. This plan allows you to see all your accounts in one place, make a budget, and manage your bills.
- Deluxe. With this plan, you get a sophisticated account dashboard that provides insight into your deposit, credit card, loan, and investment accounts.
- Premier. Investment analysis, tax planning, online bill pay tools, and a home market value analysis tool make Premier a nearly one-stop personal finance management shop.
- Home & Business. This powerful plan has profit and loss tracking and reporting, personal and business expense tracking and reporting, property management tools for landlords, and custom invoice creation for businesses of all types.
If you’re just looking to get your household expenses under control and better manage your cash flow, Quicken’s firepower probably isn’t necessary. On the other hand, if you aim to build your own miniature business empire, it’s right up your alley.
Simple is a lightweight deposit account app with built-in spending and saving tools. For consumers who use it as their primary day-to-day spending and goal-oriented savings vehicle, it can also help with budgeting.
Simple’s Safe-to-Spend feature shows you the portion of your total deposit account balance that Simple deems safe for discretionary spending. It’s the rolling net of your total balance minus your Goals (long-term savings objectives) and any Scheduled Activities (recurring or known one-off expenses) set to debit your account in the coming 30 days.
Because Safe-to-Spend automatically looks 30 days out, you can dip into that balance with confidence – no more worrying whether an impulse buy will set back your financial plan. Best of all, Safe-to-Spend is included at no extra charge in Simple’s free personal finance suite. If all you’re seeking is a green light to spend responsibly, you may need nothing more complex than Safe-to-Spend.
5. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
- Plans: One plan for all features and capabilities
- Features and Capabilities: Secure sync with external financial accounts; “proven method” built around four rules for budgeting; joint budgeting for couples who’ve merged finances; savings goal tracking; retrospective reports to track past spending
You Need a Budget, or YNAB for short, is a paid budgeting app that comes with a 34-day free trial and no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. YNAB is renowned for its robust feature suite and intuitive, user-friendly interface. Although it’s among the most expensive entrants on this list, you get what you pay for. Spend a few minutes with it, and you just might be jazzed about budgeting.
The YNAB app comes in multiple iterations:
- YNAB for Web (best for desktops and laptops)
- YNAB for Android and iPhone
- YNAB for iPad
- YNAB for Apple Watch
- YNAB for Alexa
YNAB follows a version of the zero-based budgeting method built around four ironclad rules:
- Give Every Dollar a Job. Prioritize your spending and allocate dollars according to those priorities.
- Embrace Your True Expenses. Break occasional or annual expenses, such as holiday shopping, into fixed monthly outlays and allocate your money accordingly.
- Roll With the Punches. Adjust to overspending by re-allocating money from categories not yet tapped out.
- Age Your Money. Spend money that’s at least 30 days old – in other words, don’t live paycheck to paycheck or month to month
These rules build on one another, and the unifying theme is clear: Sustainable budgeting is about proactivity, not reactivity. To get your money’s worth out of YNAB, you need to lay out your budgetary priorities and give every dollar a job before you spend a dime. You also need to link all your financial accounts to your YNAB account. YNAB swears on its security protocols, but if you’re leery about giving a third-party app insight into your entire financial life, you may want to consider a lower-tech alternative that doesn’t directly connect to your financial accounts; Neobudget is a nice alternative, as is CountAbout’s Basic version (both are described in more detail below).
YNAB claims that the average user saves $6,000 per year. Even if you’re not able to squeeze savings quite that impressive out of your own household budget, YNAB’s user-friendly app will get you to think differently about how you’re spending and saving. In the long run, that could be more valuable than saving a few dollars here and there.
Check out our YNAB review to learn more.
- Plans: The standard EveryDollar app (manual budgets only) is free; EveryDollar Plus (automatic transaction importing and live support) is one of the costlier options on this list
- Features and Capabilities: Custom budget templates with categories that fit your financial life; manual transaction entry (standard EveryDollar app); automatic transaction importing (EveryDollar Plus only); live phone support (EveryDollar Plus only)
EveryDollar is a no-frills budgeting app from personal finance guru Dave Ramsey. Since it doesn’t allow external account syncing or automatic transaction imports, the low-key free version is really only appropriate for individuals and families with relatively simple household budgets – predictable incomes, predictable bills, and few discretionary expenses.
Those with more complicated finances may want to spring for EveryDollar Plus, which syncs with most external accounts and automatically imports transactions into the platform’s custom spreadsheets. EveryDollar Plus comes with priority customer support too, though the EveryDollar team does not include certified financial planners and is not in the business of giving actionable financial advice. Whether EveryDollar Plus is worth the cost is your call.
- Plans: All features and capabilities are free
- Features and Capabilities: Automatic syncing with external financial accounts; savings goals; personalized budgets with custom spending categories; OK to Spend (a sort of traffic light for near-term spending decisions)
MoneyStrands is a free personal budgeting app with iOS and Android versions. Although it’s not as pretty or feature-rich as some paid competitors, it boasts budgeting stalwarts such as:
- Automatic syncing with external financial accounts, including banks, brokerages, and money transfer apps
- Goal-based budgeting for help reaching medium- and long-term savings goals
- Personalized budgets that let you set category-based spending limits and ensure you consistently spend less than you earn
- OK to Spend, an algorithm-driven feature that analyzes your cash flow and tells you when you can loosen the belt a little (and when you really should buckle down)
MoneyStrands isn’t infallible; in particular, OK to Spend is not a substitute for financial discipline. But it’s a fine choice for consumers looking first and foremost for insight into household spending and saving patterns that feel inscrutable or out of control, as well as for folks looking to set and stick to long-term savings goals.
- Plans: Plans range from Basic (free) to Prime (pricey)
- Features and Capabilities: Prime features include automated account syncing; unlimited linked accounts, budgets, rules, and reminders; investment tracking; budget forecasting; savings goals; full data backup; phone and chat support
One of Buxfer‘s five pricing tiers is sure to fit your financial life. You can choose from:
- Basic. This free, limited plan allows no more than five linked accounts and five budgets, making it ideal for straightforward financial situations
- Pilot. This plan provides automatic account syncing and transaction tagging for about. It’s probably the best value for frugal budgeteers who can’t be bothered to enter transactions manually.
- Plus. This plan provides unlimited linked accounts and budgets.
- Pro. This plan’s higher price tag buys you sophisticated forecasting and cash flow tracking tools for far greater insight into your spending and saving than lower-priced plans.
- Prime. This plan is much more expensive than the others, but it buys you what’s essentially an out-of-the-box financial planning suite.
Buxfer syncs with about 10,000 U.S. financial institutions, meaning your bank is probably on the team. Other differentiators include free-form custom transaction tags (you can call a transaction whatever you like and assign it to multiple categories) and custom spending limits for each tag (ideal for preventing repeat overspending in the same categories).
- Plans: Plans range from Basic (free) to Super (fairly expensive)
- Features and Capabilities: Super features include automatic transaction categorization; automatic and manual transaction importing; unlimited accounts and budgets; financial projections up to 30 years out
PocketSmith has three plans, one of which is totally free:
- Basic. This free plan supports manual transaction importing only, not syncing – though, happily, you don’t have to import transactions one by one. You’re limited to two financial accounts, 12 budgets, and six months’ cash flow projections (which include projected statement balances). Basic is ideal for simple financial situations but not much more.
- Premium. This plan includes unlimited budgets, 10 accounts, and cash flow projections up to 10 years out. It also comes with automatic bank feeds (syncs), automatic and manual transaction importing options, and automatic transaction categorization.
- Super. This plan includes unlimited accounts and cash flow projections up to 30 years out.
Even PocketSmith seems skeptical that Super is worth the price tag; the app touts Premium as its “best value.” That said, for diligent, confident consumers, Super’s 30-year time horizon may effectively supplant a human financial planner at a fraction of the cost.
PocketSmith does have some key advantages that may appeal to specific consumer niches. For instance, its bank feed feature supports accounts in 36 countries, and the software itself supports multiple currencies besides U.S. dollars – great news for American expats whose finances have gone native. The budget calendar, which lets users schedule bills in an intuitive calendar view, caters to visual thinkers; the custom budget periods (weekly, monthly, and even daily) speak to users who prefer not to segment their lives by statement cycles.
PocketSmith integrates seamlessly with Xero, a popular small business accounting software, which is a boon for small business owners, solopreneurs, and freelancers with substantial self-employment income. It also integrates with Mint – though that integration, with its emphasis on migrating linked accounts and transaction histories, seems more about poaching existing Mint customers than anything else.
- Plans: Basic and Premium; add-ons for an additional price
- Features and Capabilities: Basic incorporates bulk importing from Quicken and Mint; QIF importing from compatible banks; customized spending categories and tags; customized budget creation; income and spending graphs; running register balances; and income reconciliation. Premium supports automatic downloading of financial account data.
CountAbout is a versatile money management app for serious budgeteers. When you sign up for the 15-day free trial, you’re automatically enrolled in the Premium plan, whose signature feature is automatic downloading of financial account transactions from any of the thousands of financial institutions with which CountAbout is compatible. At the trial’s end, you’ll continue your Premium membership unless you downgrade to Basic; CountAbout wagers that you’re won’t be willing to give up automatic downloading.
Neither plan comes with CountAbout’s two add-on features:
- Adding images, such as canceled check impressions, to stored transactions
- A basic small business invoicing function
Freelancers and solopreneurs who can’t afford – or prefer not to pay for – more sophisticated invoicing software may find the invoicing add-on worth the cost.
- Plans: One-time purchase (reasonably priced compared with paid-annually and paid-monthly competitors)
- Features and Capabilities: Automatic transaction downloading and importing from hundreds of compatible financial institutions; automatic tracking and tagging; account summaries featuring snapshots of all linked accounts with past and upcoming transactions and balances; customized reporting; digital account registers with automatic balance updates; bill payment reminders
First launched in 1998, Moneydance predates Mint by eight years. Although Moneydance hasn’t gained much in the way of name recognition since the days of the Y2K panic, the small team responsible for its upkeep has learned plenty along the way – including, to frugal budgeteers’ delight, that monthly recurring revenue isn’t everything. You need only pay once for Moneydance; after that, the desktop version and mobile app are yours in perpetuity.
Moneydance is notable for recognizing virtually any kind of currency, not just U.S. dollars and major world denominations. Coupled with industry-leading security, that makes it a natural choice for cryptocurrency buffs, to whom most mainstream budgeting apps merely pay lip service if they pay anything at all.
Moneydance comes with an unusually long – 90-day – free trial, during which unhappy users may request their money back with no questions asked. In keeping with its old-school vibe, Moneydance assigns each user a unique license key; it’s not the end of the world if you lose yours, but you’ll need to contact Moneydance to recover it.
- Plans: The Free version costs nothing (and is ad-free to boot); the Standard version is paid but comes with more features.
- Features and Capabilities: Envelope-based budgeting; manual transaction entry; bulk transaction importing; data exporting to third-party apps
NeoBudget is another low-key budgeting app that’s flown under the radar for years. Its approach is a digital version of analog envelope budgeting, wherein the consumer assigns each spending category a literal envelope and a fixed monthly allotment.
NeoBudget’s Free version accommodates one user, one account, and 10 envelopes – enough for singles and frugal couples with very straightforward financial situations but not much more. The Standard version allows unlimited users, accounts, and envelopes – appropriate for a broader range of use cases.
NeoBudget is fairly hands-on. For instance, you can import transactions from your financial accounts in bulk, but you’ll need to manually allocate each to an envelope or split more complex transactions between envelopes. You may relish the chance to review individual transactions regularly, or you may have nowhere near the time or emotional capacity needed for such an endeavor.
Check out our NeoBudget review to learn more.
With apologies to the fine folks at YNAB, it’s not entirely clear that you need a budget. Plenty of financially fit folks swear off budgeting altogether. They still follow the golden rule of personal finance, of course: to spend less than they earn. But they don’t worry so much about category-based spending limits, strict savings rates, or periodic cash flow analyses. They simply do what they need to do to live within their means and prepare for the future. Call it financial self-discipline.
However, not everyone is inclined to financial self-discipline, at least not without the aid of a personal budget. Whether that budget takes the shape of a custom-made spreadsheet, strong box holding envelopes swollen with cash, or low-cost digital budgeting app – well, that’s a personal decision.
What’s your favorite budgeting app? What do you like about it?