The 6 Best Budgeting Apps for Parents
Establishing a budget and then actually sticking to it can be a challenging task for parents. Life is full of curveballs, right? Especially when you have kids. And there always seems to be unexpected needs (and wants) that pop up during the course of a month.
One of the best ways to keep things on track is to simply write your monthly budget down on paper, accounting for all the money coming in and all of your known and recurring expenses, while also setting aside money in your budget for curveballs. If old-fashioned pencil and paper is not your style, there are apps to help with the chore of budgeting and staying on track, many particularly suited for parents and families.
Here are some of the best budgeting apps out there for parents, according to leading budgeting and money management experts.
Easily one of the best-known apps on the market (likely because it's been around since 2007), Mint is a top choice for parents among many finance and budgeting experts.
"It's free and comprehensive," Jacqueline Jacqueline Gilchrist, founder of Mom Money Map, tells Parents. "It links all of your financial accounts including checking accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts. It also tracks your budgeting and net worth. As an all-in-one tool, it saves parents time from having to check multiple apps and websites."
Mint also automatically notifies you when bills are due (which can be a lifesaver for overwhelmed parents everywhere) and provides useful insights like when expenses are higher than usual.
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"With the chaos of day-to-day family life, Mint helps keep parents on top of their bills and finances," says Gilchrist.
Mint also tops the list of recommendations from smart shopping expert Trae Bodge.
"I like it for busy parents, in particular, because it's very easy to use and doesn't take a lot of time to set up," Bodge tells Parents. "Once you load all your accounts onto the platform, Mint keeps track of all accounts and can alert you to things like low balances and fees, as well as keep track of various spending goals, including saving for college."
As practically any parent can attest, finding things that are simple to use is a huge win and the Daily Budget app falls squarely into this category, says Gilchrist.
"It's ideal for parents who want budgeting to be as easy as possible. To use the app, all you enter is your budget for the day and if you spend more or less, it'll roll over and change tomorrow's budget," explains Gilchrist. "With children, unexpected expenses are always popping up. This budgeting app makes it easy to adjust for these surprise costs and stay on budget."
The app is also free, but you can purchase additional functions like adding more category icons or analysis graphs for small one-time payments, notes Gilchrist.
One last note, when using Daily Budget, you're not required to connect your financial accounts, thus eliminating any concerns about your banking passwords or money getting stolen.
This budgeting app was specifically designed for couples to help make managing money together easier, says budgeting and consumer finance expert Andrea Woroch.
"You can use HoneyFi to see all of your accounts and transactions, track your budget, and set shared savings goals in one place," Woroch tells Parents. "Considering parents prioritize their kids' needs first, talking about finances on a regular basis gets pushed to the side. This app ensures you stay on track with your goals."
Budgeting can be overwhelming, not to mention time-consuming. Mvelopes promises you can create a spending plan in under 15 minutes.
"Mvelopes is perfect for busy parents who can never find the time to comb through their finances," notes Woroch. "It uses the classic envelope budgeting system in which each expense is categorized into different envelopes, so you know exactly where your money is going each month."
Yet another budgeting app that relies on the envelope tracking system, Goodbudget comes highly recommended by Gilchrist of Mom Money Map.
"This app divides your cash into envelopes representing each expense category like groceries and allows you to do it virtually without a physical paper envelope," says Gilchrist. "You can also access the same Goodbudget account from two devices, which is handy for parents who share a budget.
Goodbudget is free and includes 10 regular envelopes as well as 10 additional envelopes. You can also upgrade for a fee if your family needs still more envelopes and features.
FamZoo is a budgeting app designed specifically for families. It's both a budgeting tool as well as an educational product that teaches kids about money, says Gilchrist.
"You can schedule chores and allowances and then split the payments into savings, spending, and giving accounts to demonstrate how to be responsible with money," explains Gilchrist. "You can even pay interest and teach your children about the value of compound interest."
"FamZoo provides your children with lots of practice on financially managing their wealth," Gilchrist adds.
The uber-handy FamZoo app also lets you set family or individual savings goals, and it lets you charge your kids for borrowing money—or for shared costs such as family cell phone plans. Unfortunately, it's not free. There's a small monthly fee to use the app, but if you pay in advance, it can cost as low as $2.50 per month.