Whether you want an app that helps you plan towards a specific purchase or savings goal, or just to make sure you don’t go into overdraft, check out our list (in no particular order) of the best free budget apps for iPhone and Android in Canada.
Photo Credit: Mint.com
Pros: Easy to use, connects to your bank account
Cons: Light iOS version
The Mint app has to make our list. Mint has more than 15 million users internationally, and it takes only a few minutes to set up. It lets you manage all of your finances in one handy place, and its user-friendly design is ideal if you’re new to the budgeting game. Mint has a beautiful user interface that displays all of your information in a clean, simplified, and easy-to-understand manner. Its primary feature is for budgeting and tracking your expenses, and after you set up, Mint will auto-sync every time you log in, so you can view real-time data about your spending.
You can also use Mint to create and track your financial goals, like paying off a credit card or saving up for a down payment on a car. You can receive alerts via email or text for late fees, bill reminders, large purchase warnings, and going over budget in any category you set. It also offers investment monitoring, but you can’t make investments directly through the app. You’ll also get a nice weekly summary emailed directly to you, just in case you missed something.
A few cons, though. Mint cancelled its direct Bill Pay feature not too long ago, so that is the one clear downside to the app. Another small downside is that, while it’s available on both iOS and Android, the iOS version isn’t quite as detailed. Lastly, while Mint is considered safe to use, some people aren’t comfortable adding the information that the app asks for.
Photo Credit: youneedabudget.com
Price: $6.99 per month (free for the first 34 days)
Pros: Excellent customer service, educates with simple tips
Cons: Investment accounts are not fully automated
Like Mint, YNAB is another app that is incredibly popular. You can try it for free for 34 days and pay $6.99 per month after that. It helps you create and adhere to your budget, set financial goals, track your spending, and monitor all of your bank and investment accounts. YNAB is very user-friendly, and setup is straightforward. You can auto-sync or manually import all of your accounts.
YNAB likes to think of itself as “educational software”, and its philosophy is weaved throughout the app’s functionality. The creators of YNAB espouse the stress-relieving effect that simple money management can have on lives. Their budget strategy is built on the following rules to help you live within your means, get out of debt, and save money:
- Give every dollar a job: This first rule teaches the importance of making decisions today that will benefit you tomorrow. Every dollar in your account matters and should be assigned its own preordained purpose.
- Embrace your true expenses: Develop an awareness of everything you have to reach into your pocket for, right down to a cup of coffee. If you’ve budgeted for it, your payment will feel like it’s planned and not like an unpleasant surprise. Staying on top of every dollar spent puts you in greater control of impulse-buying too, because you’ll instantly know that it’s not on your budget. You don’t even need to think about it.
- Roll with the punches: Life happens, so embrace flexibility. Create an allowance for “rainy day” issues, and learn to plan on the fly for bumps on the road to your financial goals. Once you accept that your budget might need to change mid-month, you can review and adjust as needed.
- Age your money: Living paycheck to paycheck can be stressful. Break the cycle by learning to live on last month’s income. Try to only spend money that you earned at least 30 days ago. Be mindful about when you earned the money and when you’ll need it. The longer the time elapses between receiving the money and spending the money, the lower your stress levels will get.
YNAB have excellent customer service, and users have reported that they usually receive answers to their questions within 24 hours. The company behind the app is big on customer education, with lots of free videos, live courses, and podcasts on all sorts of financial topics, such as how to save money on groceries. YNAB also offers a Quick Budget setup option where you can list the budgeting categories you use most frequently.
You can also pre-schedule transactions (like rent, mortgage, or a credit card payment), so you don’t have to import them yourself every month. And, speaking of reporting, you’ll receive handy reports regularly with charts that let you see how close you are to achieving your goals.
A special note and potential disappointment when it comes to YNAB auto-sync capabilities for investments: this app can’t continuously update most investment accounts and some TFSA accounts. It only syncs once to access the initial deposit, but then you have to manually import any future deposits or withdrawals made to them.
Photo Credit: wally.me
Pros: Records all income and expenses, helpful savings slider tool
Cons: Manual data input, newer iterations are difficult to navigate
Wally is a masterfully designed personal finance app that helps you keep track of your expenses, set goals, and set better spending habits. It’s currently free, but optional paid features may be added in the future. Wally comes in different names and versions, depending on your device. iOS users can download Wally Lite for their iPhones, Android users can download Wally+, while the Wally Next update is available for iOS and Android.
Wally’s dashboard displays your total income (which you will have to input manually), your expenses, and remaining discretionary income. Individual account balances can also be found on the dash. The highlight of Wally is how truly borderless it is. Wally was the top-rated finance app in 22 countries (according to their site), and almost every major currency is accounted for, from the USD to the Congolese franc. It also has a handy savings slider tool, where you can set a savings target with a specific percentage of your income. It gives you detailed records of each transaction you make, too.
The downside? Some users have found the newer versions of Wally difficult to navigate. But once you’ve familiarised yourself with all of the app’s functionalities, you’ll be budgeting like a pro in no time.
Photo Credit: mylo.ai
Price: Free or $3 a month for access to unlimited registered accounts
Pros: Simple introduction to investing, cashback perks
Cons: Set-up frustrations, suitable for smaller savings goals only
Mylo is a finance app that connects to your online banking to help you squirrel away money. It rounds up your credit and debit purchases to the nearest dollar and deposits that money in an account.
When you sign up, you are required to choose a goal. These goals are there to motivate you to save money and to give your portfolio manager a better idea about how you invest money. You can make a custom goal, or choose from an emergency, home, or trip fund, or a donation account.
Mylo also offers cashback perks for purchases you make from partnered businesses including companies like Busbud, Matt & Nat, Burton, foodora, Enamour, and Norden.
This app employs the same measures as Canadian banks: it will not sell your data to third parties, it uses 256-bit encryption and SSL connections and follows ISO standards to create strict internal security policies.
Mylo is free to download, but there is a cost associated with having an account. Tactex Asset Management—the portfolio manager—charges $3 a month for access to unlimited registered accounts, including TFSAs, RRSPs and any accounts made up of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) portfolios.
Most bank accounts come with fees, and since this one involves investors working behind the scenes, it’s a reasonable cost.
Integrate With Your Bank’s App
Photo Credit: tdcanadatrust.com
Most Canadian financial institutions offer some form of spending app, whether you’re with TD, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, Royal Bank (RBC) or HSBC. They can be used in conjunction with any of the three apps above!
Fresh Start Finance is here to help
Whether your goals are to save for a big purchase, pay down debt, or just stop living paycheck to paycheck, these budgeting apps can help you organize your finances and educate you on the best next steps to take. Fresh Start Finance can help you reach your goals with simple and transparent instalment loans. Check out our application form to get started!