When you’re a cash-strapped college student, it’s a challenge to buy food, pay bills, and still have a little going-out money. That’s why it’s especially important for college students to stick to a budget.
Of course, following a budget doesn’t sound cool, but it’s how you learn to rock debt management. It also helps you develop smart spending habits for a sound financial future. Not sure where to start? A budget app can help. Here are the five best budget apps to help you easily track spending and saving. Bonus: they’re all free!
This popular money management and financial tracking app lets you see all your accounts in one place. The app connects with your bank accounts and credit cards and shows you what you’re spending almost immediately.
Swipe to check your balances and transactions. Get reminders to pay bills and tips to help you save money. Mint even provides free credit score monitoring — no credit card required.
When you do most of your banking on a mobile device, it’s a hassle to log into separate apps to view balances and pay bills. Pocketguard lets you see all of them — credit cards, checking and savings accounts, loans, investments — in one place.
The app updates and categorizes your transactions as they happen, so when you spend $75 on a Saturday night out, it’s reflected in the app right away. From a budgeting standpoint, this helps you adjust your future spending as needed to make ends meet. After you’ve paid the bills, the app tells you how much you have left over, so you can invest the rest and — budget permitting — splurge a little.
Like Mint and Pocketguard, Personal Capital wrangles all your accounts into one platform. What sets it apart is its dashboard, where you can see separate graphs of your cash flow (income vs. expenses), your budget (what you’re spending your money on), and your investments. The app works great for simple budgeting, but it also has advanced functionality to manage more complex finances.
If you’re looking for a simple app to help you track your spending, then take a look at Wally. The app lets you compare income and expenses and figure out how your cash is slipping through your fingers. With Wally, you can take pictures of your receipts within the app to better organize cash spending.
Budgeting isn’t about tracking current income and expenses only. It’s about planning for future goals. Saving for a new-to-you car? Include a little sink fund in your budget to build up a down payment.
Dollarbird allows you to track your spending ahead of time to make saving for big goals easier. Input your monthly rent, phone bill, and other fixed expenses ahead of time. Dollarbird will tell you how much you have left to spend and save. If you’re living off grants and student loans, then a forecasting app helps you plan so you don’t get stuck penniless before your next distribution.
CORT Furniture Rental knows that college students have a lot to manage, finances included, and the company takes the hassle out of shopping for and buying furniture. Plug the rental fee into your budget, and you get stylish furniture delivered when you need it and picked up when you’re ready to move.