While it sounds like the least glamorous task in the world, creating a budget is probably the most important thing you can do as a young adult. Whether you’re managing real-world finances for the first time, or trying to stretch your winter break paychecks across the rest of the semester, creating a budget is key.
But budgets are hard to keep up with. You spend, spend, spend, and at the end of the month when your credit card bill comes you seriously consider crawling into a hole forever and ever.
To make it easier on yourself, we really suggest downloading some sort of a smartphone budget app. Keeping your spending habits right at your fingertips? Can’t get much easier than that. Here are our favorites:
Mint is the budgeting app you’ve definitely already heard of, and for a good reason. It’s really comprehensive, secure, and reputable. Mint will break down your spending habits into different categories, let you set how much you should spend on them monthly, and yells at you when you go over.
Mint is really unique in letting you set goals for certain things (like a few thousand dollars for an apartment or new car) and track the progress. And by linking your bank account, existing credit cards, and answering a few easy questions, you can let Mint help you figure out which credit card would be your best fit.
You can download Mint for free on your iPhone or Android, and also use it on your computer.
BillGuard is a very important app because it not only saves you money, but it also keeps your credit cards safe.
The app works sort of like Tinder – you swipe right if you actually made the transaction, and left if you didn’t. When you swipe left, you’re prompted with three options:
- Help me recognize this
- Report/contact merchant
- Follow up later
Then it nags you with a little red dot until if you finally resolve the issue. This app is really awesome because while you’re making sure all of your accounts are super secure, you’re also reminding yourself of all the stupid things you spend money on and shaming yourself from every doing so again (and also practicing for actual Tinder).
You Need a Budget
They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem, which is why you should just say, “You Need a Budget,” and download this app.
YNAB is really cool because it doesn’t really try to control your life, or make you feel like a horrible person for spending money. It just points you in the right direction by giving you four super doable rules:
- Designate where every dollar is going
- Plan ahead for your bigger, less-frequent expenses
- Just go with it if you accidentally over-spend
- Figure out how to live on your previous month’s income
You can get YNAB fo’ free on your iPhone, Android, or laptop.
Mvelopes operates on the age-old budgeting technique of putting certain cash for certain expenses into separate envelopes. Except this app’s set for the digital age. You can link all of your accounts to the app, and then create virtual envelopes for the different expenses you have. Cool, right?
Mvelopes is also free, but for $95 you can get some premium functions and money coaching.