Earning money is not easy, but managing your finances is another ball game altogether. But what is important is to have a budget so you will be able to clearly see where your money is going, manage your expenses and plan for large expenditures.
There are plenty of budgeting methods out there – from the Japanese Kakeibo method for keeping household accounts, to Elizabeth Warren’s elegant 50/20/30 Rule, and even the multi-faceted Envelope Budgeting system – each with their own strengths and quirks.
Finding one that suits you is simply a matter of trial and error.
No matter which budgeting system you choose, budgets do require some effort on your part. At the very least, you’ll need to record your expenses and make some calculations.
But wait. You don’t actually have to keep a ledger to scribble in, grunting all the while (unless that’s totally your thing). Instead, try using a budgeting app or two.
To help you get started, we’ve picked out eight of our favourites.
1. WallyPHOTO: Wally.me
Wally is chock full of useful features, such as the ability to sync your bank accounts, or the creation of customised budgets to track your spending automatically. It’s easy to see why Wally stands among the most popular personal finance budgeting apps out there.
The app provides plenty of information about your finances, all broken down into easy-to-digest sections presented through a clean and simple interface.
Entering and tracking your expenses is kept easy with its built-in receipt-scanning feature, which doubles up as a convenient repository for important bills.
You can also create shopping lists to help you stick to your budget and avoid impulse buys.
Wally is free to download and use. There’s also Wally Gold, a paid version that comes with extra features like filtered data exporting and repeat notifications.
2. SpendioPHOTO: Apple Store
Developed by Thai app developers Muze Innovation, Spendio is a simplified budget tracker that encourages you to save towards your personal goals.
The app makes great use of an easy-to-read line chart that tracks your expenses as they go up and down over time – creating your very own ‘stock market’ report, coloured in arresting orange.
Saving up for something is easy; just create a budget for it and top up anytime towards your goal. You can also create a separate wallet for travel in the currency of your choosing.
All these are beautifully designed features that should provide that extra motivation to rein in your spending in favour of your savings goals. But perhaps the coolest feature yet is the app’s ability to pair with your Apple Watch, unlocking the ability to input financial data via smart voice-to-text.
A full-featured budget tracking app, Spendee works like a money manager that lives in your mobile. Start by entering your expenses and assets, and the app will consolidate everything into an easy-to-understand graphic with powerful insights at a glance.
Then, fine tune your finances by setting smart budgets that help you avoid overspending, while encouraging you to save towards future goals.
The basic app is free to use, but you can opt in to free trials of planned paid features, such as bank account syncing and crypto wallet linking.
4. Wallet by BudgetBakers
Wallet is another feature-rich finance tracking and budgeting app designed to provide a high degree of visibility to your daily transactions, which should prove useful for those who often end up surprised by how much you’ve spent on artisanal butter this month.
The app comes complete with a sophisticated ‘Cash Flow Trend’ chart, which lets you affirm your finances with a quick glance – and hopefully nudge you away from wrecking your budget this month. Other useful features include adjustable spending categories and budgets for different expenses.
Syncing your bank accounts for automatic updates (along with other advanced stuff like multiple accounts and in-depth reports) will require a premium subscription, but the free version works well enough as long as you’re faithful with recording your finances.
5. DBS NAV PlannerPHOTO: DBS
If you’re a DBS or POSB account holder, you might wanna explore your digibank app. Hidden in the ‘Plan’ tab is a whole slew of personal budgeting features on par with some of the leading budgeting apps out there.
Officially known as the NAV Planner, you can use this powerful digital tool to track your money and grow your assets towards future goals.
NAV Planner combines data from your DBS/POSB account with any additional assets and expenses (such as CPF, property and investments) you may have for a more complete and accurate profile of your overall finances.
The tool also provides personalised insights into your financial habits and offers tailored tips and solutions over time.
Besides big-picture planning, NAV Planner also provides useful nuggets such as monthly expense summaries that automatically sorts your spending into specific categories.
6. MonnyPHOTO: Apple Store
Featuring a whimsical art-style a la scrapbooking supplies, Monny seeks to gamify your personal finance journey.
The budgeting app displays your finances such as expenses and charts using cards dressed up with a cartoonish flair – good to soften the existential dread when you discover you’ve gone over budget again, perhaps?
There’s even a mascot, Monny the Bunny, who challenges you to various money challenges in a cheerily designed ‘theme park’.
This Taiwanese-designed financial app (ah, that explains a lot), stands out for its cutesy approach to what can be a stressful issue for some. Well worth checking out!
Unlike some other budgeting apps, YNAB (You Need a Budget) doesn’t coddle you or attempts to sugar-coat things. Instead, the app focuses on teaching you how to prioritise and plan your finances.
It “requires you to be forward-looking and intentional about every dollar; it requires you to be aware, but in return you’ll be in total control of your finances, and in so doing, your life.”
Yikes, YNAB has got some pretty stern vibes going on. But then again a firm hand could be just what you need to finally get your finances in order.
Cost: Free for first 30 days, then $16.48/mth thereafter.
8. ZenmoneyPHOTO: Zenmoney
The practice of Zen espouses the cultivation of mindfulness as the key to a more enlightened life. Zenmoney wants to take that philosophy and focus it on your financial life.
Incongruously, the app’s developers are Russian, but that don’t let that detract from the app’s purpose – which is to “give you a feeling of security and confidence in your judgment abilities”.
True to its name, the app features clean, no-frills layouts with white backgrounds, the better to calmly digest the state of your finances. Colours are reserved for reports, which feature geometrical shapes and graphs for utmost clarity.
From gaining awareness of your expenses, to setting individual budgets, scanning receipts, and sharing reports, Zenmoney lets you do it all with serenity.
This article was first published in SingSaver.com.sg.