Ask DN: Best app for money management?

over 8 years ago from

Currently looking for a well-designed native app for managing money on Mac and iOS. What are you using?


  • Matt HallidayMatt Halliday, over 8 years ago

    I'd be so lost without You Need A Bugdet.

    17 points
    • Brennan Smith, over 8 years ago

      Likewise, its not an automated process like the other apps (Mint). It actually makes you really think about where your money is going.

      4 points
      • Miguel Solorio, over 8 years ago

        I found that while using Mint, my spending habits didn't change at all. And while I spend money today, they may not show up in my Mint account until the next day or two. I love that YNAB forces you to pay attention to what you are inserting into your spending accounts and puts you in charge of your finances. For me this has been the most effective tool that's changed how I spend my money.

        4 points
        • Joe BarberJoe Barber, over 8 years ago

          I couldn't agree more. YNAB is probably the best value app I've ever bought. Well, next to Sketch I guess.

          I can't wait for their new iPad app.

          1 point
      • Bart Claeys, over 8 years ago

        I would rather spend my time analyzing charts than manually entering transactions. Maybe works if you don't have many transactions. Plus because you very likely miss a lot of transactions (bank fees, international transaction fees, auto-charges), the conclusions this app is drawing cannot be 100% accurate.

        0 points
        • Brennan Smith, over 8 years ago

          This is where rule 3 comes into play with their method. http://www.youneedabudget.com/method/rule-three

          2 points
        • Joe BarberJoe Barber, over 8 years ago

          Firstly, how much time do you really spend analyzing those charts??

          Secondly, with YNAB you reconcile with your bank account every month (I do it every two weeks) to ensure it's staying accurate. I have a SHIT TON of transactions, and nothing has ever helped me as much as YNAB. The bottom line is really that managing your money well takes work. By inputing a transaction every time I buy something, I'm keeping my budget at the forefront of my mind instead of just spending until I get a warning from my app that I've overspent (or almost over spent). Is it slightly annoying to reconcile every two weeks? Yes. But that ~1 hour every two weeks is well worth the confidence I've gained in always knowing exactly how much money I have and what it's being used for.

          1 point
    • Alyssa Pelletier, over 8 years ago

      +1 to this. It's not the prettiest app ever (especially on Android, though I do think that the iOS version is nice!) but you can tell that they've thought a lot about how to best fit YNAB in with your daily life – not to make it most convenient, but to make it incredibly effective. YNAB is the first and only budgeting program that I've stuck with for more than a month, and with them my current streak is about a year! Amazing product with awesome customer support and resources that just can't be beat. Definitely recommended!

      3 points
      • Paulo PereiraPaulo Pereira, over 8 years ago

        To add to this, I'd argue that YNAB is not so much an app, but rather primarily a method, and the app simply makes it easier to stick to the method — but it doesn't work without it.

        Put in another way, if you doesn't bother to read what they’ve wrote, YNAB won't do much for you. I’m glad I did.

        8 points
        • Alyssa Pelletier, over 8 years ago

          Exactly. I didn't really get into it until I got around to watching their free webinar series, then everything clicked. Their support docs & videos are awesome!

          1 point
    • Frad Lee, over 8 years ago

      YNAB is a theory of money management.

      3 points
    • Matt Dobson, over 8 years ago

      Does YNAB work if you aren't actually a month ahead on expenses like it recommends?

      1 point
    • Ian GoodeIan Goode, over 8 years ago

      Same. And if anyone is looking at it thinking it's expensive don't worry, it'll pay for itself very quickly.

      2 points
    • Daniel FoscoDaniel Fosco, over 8 years ago


      1 point
    • Scott OgleScott Ogle, over 8 years ago

      So based on this recommendation I decided to give YNAB a try and I've honestly been way more impressed than I thought I would.

      Someone made the comment in a thread below that "any app that doesn't automatically download transactions is just a glorified excel document," and I'd actually agree with that on this case, but it's an excel document that really encourages good habits.

      PSA: It's free for college students as well, as long as you're in college.

      1 point
  • Hung LeHung Le, over 8 years ago

    +1 for YNAB

    4 points
  • Aaron MoodieAaron Moodie, over 8 years ago

    Level is great. iOS and Android versions are both really well done. US only at the moment though I believe.


    4 points
  • Florian GrauFlorian Grau, over 8 years ago

    Short and to the point: YNAB or Moneywell (my choice) - everything else is imo a glorified Excel sheet, that doesn't help you manage your money but only tells you where it went, when you run out of it.

    Some years ago I had a difficult relationship with my financial situation myself: I always had enough money and I never had any debt, but I was living from paycheck to paycheck, like most people do, I guess.

    I felt, that there must be a better way and so I started looking for money management apps. I tried the most interesting ones (a decent interface and an iOS app were the minimum requirements) for multiple months: Money, Squirrel, Koku ... and I also tried others for as long as the free trial period allowed. Long story short: Every of those apps answered my usual question at the end of the month "Where did all my money go?" with beautiful graphs and wonderful charts. But that didn't stop the question appearing month after month.

    Then a friend told me about YNAB and the whole philosophy behind it. I was intrigued and realized its potential, but found the interface so horrible, that I was sure I wouldn't use it in the long run.

    That's when I remembered Moneywell, an app I tried several times, but never understood. But the experience with YNAB convinced me to give it another chance and really try do understand the thinking behind it.

    Admittedly, it took me A LOT of time: Although they provide a lot of helpful articles and videos and also their support staff is great, Moneywell still has a very steep learning curve. The philosophy behind it is great and works flawlessly, but because it is so different to the usual "enter all your transactions and that's it" apps I took me a lot of time to fully understand how everything works together. But I'm so glad I pulled through!

    When I had finally everything set up and started spending (and living) according to those principles it completely changed my way of interacting with money. I almost immediately stopped living from pacheck to paycheck, but have a complete overview of all upcoming bills and expenses now AND (the important thing) at the same time complete confidence and security, that I will be able to pay them. In the ~3 years I'm using Moneywell I saved a considerable amount of money without any real effort and I'd be able to just spend it, because I know I will still have enough money for all upcoming expenses.

    Without any exaggeration I can say, that Moneywell changed my life like no other application before. Besides 1Password it's my only "trusted system" and I'd pay almost anything for keep using it.

    And yes, although this sounds like an paid advertisement I'm just an extremely satisfied customer. :)

    3 points
  • James AcklinJames Acklin, over 8 years ago

    Excel. I grab a CSV from my credit card providers and checking / savings bank every so often and crunch all the numbers myself. I find that getting my hands dirty in my financial history curbs bad behavior, since I don't want to be reminded of it later.

    Furthermore, I found mint.com to be way too much interface. The visualizations are pretty and I understand its value in saving me the time of aggregating all that data for me, but I feel like it abstracts me too far from the numbers themselves.

    I like the explicit self-shaming of calculating exactly what percentage of my paycheck that trip to the bar was.

    2 points
  • M. AppelmanM. Appelman, over 8 years ago

    Even though it's not a native app (neither is Mint) I can highly recommend Simple. They make it super easy to organize (with categories & tags) and keep track of all your activity, including budgeting.

    1 point
  • Julie RobertsJulie Roberts, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    Mint + spreadsheet combo.

    Mint tracks all the purchases, but it's too passive and hard to tell what months I overspent on what at times (mostly due to rollover budgets). By imputing it all into the spreadsheet, I take a more active role in the process and can see a bit better where I overspent (or didn't overspend, even though Mint tells me I did because I spent too much last month).

    I also like Check on my phone to keep track of recurring bills (especially variable ones) so I don't transfer money out of an account right before a bill comes. Unlike Mint, which tells me after the money is out of my account, it links up with the bill itself so I know how much will be due. I also like it reminding me to pay recurring bills that either I don't want to or cannot set up on autopay.

    1 point
    • Bart Claeys, over 8 years ago

      In Mint you can set goals - e.g. a maximum budget for lunch per month. You'll get notified when you're exceeding that budget and you can see nice progress bars on the app and on the web. So, you don't need a spreadsheet for that.

      0 points
      • Julie RobertsJulie Roberts, over 8 years ago

        I am fully aware of that, I was specifically talking about the ones I have a rollover budget for. Have you ever overspent one month and for the next 5 months it tells you you're still over budget because it rolls over? Sometimes I want to know how did THAT MONTH underspending and staying within my budget. I could set it to not roll over, but I want to be aware of how past months should affect current spending... I just also want to see how I did that month.

        Also, if you notice, I started out by saying Mint was too passive. So yes, a spreadsheet is necessary for me to engage more with my finances.

        0 points
  • Chris De La FuenteChris De La Fuente, over 8 years ago

    I use an Excel budget that I found online: http://www.fatwallet.com/static/attachments/238354_sample_budget_v3.xlsx

    I used to flow so much money through Mint, sit there and look at the neat pie charts and be in shock at how much money I was spending. Thing is I would never actually do anything because it didn't seem like I was REALLY spending that money.

    Now inputting expenses in by hand really made me realize what things were worth, I always think twice about if I need something or if I should just eat at home instead because I think about putting that money into my budget.

    I will definitely check out "You Need A Budget" though!

    1 point
  • Ivan DrinchevIvan Drinchev, over 8 years ago

    I'm using MoneyWiz. It has a decent design. It's easy to use. Has apps for OSX and iOS.

    It doesn't offer a lot of features, but honestly I never needed anything more.

    Negative side is that iPad and iPhone apps are sold separately.

    1 point
  • Ashley McFarland, over 8 years ago

    I can't say enough nice things about Personal Capital. Using Personal Capital I finally feel like I have a dashboard view of my finances that makes sense to me and that I can visually understand. I can see my progress and make tweaks to improve. Free account, supports nearly all my financial institutions, etc.

    0 points
  • Diego PinnaDiego Pinna, over 8 years ago

    Moneydashboard UK equivalent of Mint. Web is well done, improved quite a lot in the past few months. iOS and Android apps are simple but get the job done. (Free)

    0 points
  • Sagi ShrieberSagi Shrieber, over 8 years ago

    My wife and I use Homebudget - http://anishusite.appspot.com/ Its exactly what we need. Sync across devices, export to excels and has reports and budgets. Even let you add your own category icons if you want to design your own.

    0 points
  • Chetan Raj, over 8 years ago

    Try Spendee

    0 points
  • David LarsenDavid Larsen, over 8 years ago

    Ari, what aspects of money management are the most important to you? Are you looking to fix some financial problem or just generally pay attention to income and expense?

    0 points
  • Bart Claeys, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    I swear by Mint:

    The good:

    • Auto-tagging expenses works really well (believe me, you don't want an app that requires you to enter transactions manually).
    • Supports a lot of banks (even Paypal) and investment accounts (think IRA).
    • You can set budgets and get alerted when you exceed these budgets (e.g. max monthly budget for lunches, or max budget for internet so you get notified when Comcast jacks up its prices).
    • Great charts, and you can pivot on many datapoints. E.g. you can see how your net worth is progressing year by year.
    • Alerts you when your bank charges you a fee.
    • It's free!

    The not so good:

    • Requires manual grooming (I do it once a week): fixing tags, adding comments to transactions. Fixing credentials of your bank accounts etc.
    • Sync problems with banks.
    • No support. The service is stable now, but wasn't in the past. There are tons of ananswered questions in several forums. The Mint team is bad in communication.

    Other options: - There are not many. CreditKarma is a new player (Google is investor) but I personally invested too much time in Mint that I cannot justify a switch. Although I use CreditKarma to track my credit score, something Mint doesn't do.

    0 points
  • Kenny Chen, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    If you have multiple credit cards, check out Wallaby - it helps maximize your rewards by telling you which card to use when you shop - they have both iPhone & Android apps, as well as an online browser.

    0 points
  • Eli MellenEli Mellen, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    I like Dan Eden's Brills.

    ...granted, this is a website, not a native app.

    Edited to note that this is a website, not an app

    0 points
  • Brendon BigleyBrendon Bigley, over 8 years ago

    I recently started using digit.co. It's entirely SMS based and they text me my balance every day while every once in a while putting some cash aside for me. You don't save a TON of money, but it's nice to get the daily reminders.


    0 points
  • Account deleted over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    I've been looking myself, and it's a hard one. They all look bad, are overly complicated, and cost a lot. The best I could find was Koku which interface looks very promising, but the iOS version of the app still isn't updated for iOS 7 and that rubbed me the wrong way...

    0 points