"Budgeting" is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many business owners, but financial gurus and experienced entrepreneurs agree that budgeting is often the key to business success. It’s one of the multiple hats a small business owner wears — whether they like it or not. Understanding your business’s financial health and sticking to a budget is tricky, but it can get easier with the right support in place.
What support? Support via a budgeting app!
In this blog, we not only explain what small business budgeting is but also highlight a few budgeting apps that just might be the tool you need to make managing your budget less of a chore.
Small Business Budgeting
What is budgeting all about? It’s about understanding how much money is flowing in versus how much is flowing out. It helps you curb your spending so you have enough in the reserve for future business growth, retirement or just the unexpected rainy day. Budgeting is a pillar of ensuring financial success for your startup by having maximum control over your money, yet it’s not a practice adopted by all small businesses. According to a study by Clutch, only 54 percent of small businesses created a budget in 2021.
We understand — numbers, calculations or tracking it all can be a lot. But there are a variety of ways you can set a budget and stick to it:
DIY it. This can come with a steep learning curve.
Hire an accountant. Accurate, but not exactly budget-friendly (which might defeat the purpose).
Use a budgeting app. Saves time and hassle and is usually lower cost.
17 Best Financial Budgeting Apps
There are a wide array of budgeting apps out there. But, which budgeting app is the best? You could spend hours scrolling through endless reviews, but we're pretty sure you've got more important things to do. So, we did the research for you.
Here's a quick summary of the 17 best budgeting apps that gives a bird's-eye comparison of what each app offers. Most of these offer a free trial, so you can try before you buy.
Need more details? We have that too. Below, we go into the specifics of each app, so you can find one that suits your business needs and fits within your budget. We have further broken down the apps into different categories.
Mint, founded in 2006, is the godfather of budgeting apps, with over 30 million users — across industries and various business sizes. This app provides a comprehensive look at your savings and spending throughout the month. Through Mint, you can sync multiple accounts, set payment reminders (and actually pay your bills), check your credit, manage your budget and even track your investments. Mint is not only completely free, but it’s also super easy to set up and use.
FreshBooks is a popular name in small business accounting and finances software. It has basic budgeting capabilities and might be worth a look if that’s what you need. Standard budgeting tools like tracking expenses, creating invoices, scanning receipts and accessing information via the mobile app are included in FreshBooks’s entry-level package. FreshBooks also provides valuable support for small business owners on how to create a budget and stick to it.
Pocketguard is a completely automated budgeting app. The unique feature “In My Pocket” shows you how much money you have left to spend each week or month. The app also tracks your subscriptions (could be to a trade magazine, marketing software or professional membership), so you can be sure of not paying for something that you aren’t using. Another benefit of PocketGuard is that it will track your recurring payments like phone and Internet bills and identify areas of saving. The Pro version starts at $4.99/month.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is an award-winning app known for helping small business owners, especially freelancers and solopreneurs, get a budgeting makeover that often results in savings of $6,000 in their first year. Wouldn’t you like that? The app’s visual graphs and charts let you track your goals and progress and access budget information from any device. A strong benefit of YNAB is its security feature and as data and passwords are encrypted. The YNAB app ($14.99/month) also offers you access to a plethora of online classes that can make budgeting easier and more manageable if even your income is inconsistent.
If you are in a business where the cash flow isn’t steady yet or you are just starting out as an entrepreneur, Simplifi by Quicken is a great app to consider. Simplifi lets you set up a flexible monthly budget, track where the dollars are going and also plan for future spending. The app provides real-time updates on day-to-day spending (business and personal) and also the larger financial picture, so you know exactly how your startup is faring for just $5.99/month.
Modeled like a cash envelope system where you put a designated amount for different expenses, Mvelopes is a popular budgeting app for solopreneurs and freelancers. You create digital envelopes for any categories applicable to your business — home office expenses, client meetings, equipment and shipping. Mvelopes allows you to easily change the income (which might be different month to month) you use to set your budget. Another nifty feature is that the envelope turns red if you overspend. Unfortunately, there is no free version of Mvelopes; the basic plan starts at $5.97/month, but your business could benefit from the $6,175 in average savings that Mvelopes users reported.
Best Financial Budgeting Apps for Startup Businesses
Even if you’re just starting out, it can get confusing to track where all the money is flowing. InDinero is a full-fledged accounting and finance app that will help you get your budgets, bookkeeping and taxes straight. You can create forecasting models and cash flow statements. The app even provides helpful guides on startup funding. The starting point for InDinero is $300/month, but there is customized pricing available and it’s definitely worth it if you are seeking a complete accounting solution.
Goodbudget is a budgeting software accessible via your phone or laptop. It’s built on the time-tested envelope-budgeting method and allows new entrepreneurs to get a picture of both their personal and business figures. One thing to point out is that, unlike its competitors, Goodbudget doesn’t automatically sync to your bank accounts. You can manually enter transactions or import them. Their instructional guides and videos can be helpful for any newbie entrepreneur looking to get budgeting mastered. Goodbudget comes in a free version and a Plus version ($7/month).
If you are a new business owner who is not too concerned with having all the additional bells and whistles, then Toshl might be worth checking out. Toshl is a manual budgeting and expense tracking app that boasts an intuitive, user-friendly experience. You can create a budget and track expenses as per your discretion — do you only want to track meal expenses or travel expenditures? Users love the River flow graph that shows where exactly your money is flowing. Toshl has a free version that you can use as long as you want; a more advanced package is available for an affordable price point of $4.99/month.
Best Budgeting Apps for Financial/Investment Businesses
Personal Capital offers both budgeting and investment tools via a single dashboard. You can track your expenses, mortgages, retirement funds and investments. This app is ideal for investors, financial advisors, portfolio managers or even a small business owner who is planning for retirement. The budgeting features aren’t as extensive as other apps but still allow you to set a budget and categorize expenses. Personal Capital isn’t free; the fee is tied to your investments, starting at 0.89 percent for investments under $1 million.
Albert is a multifaceted financial app that helps manage your budget, investments and savings. Albert, powered by a robust AI, automatically creates a budget for you based on income, past spending and bills. It also offers you the capabilities to start investing for as little as $1 and track how your portfolio is performing. As a financial professional, you’ll also get insight into emerging markets, Albert’s list of curated stocks and other global investment trends. Most of the services on the Albert app are free, but if you want to use Albert Genius, there is a $6/month minimum charge.
PlanGuru is a quick and nimble budgeting app that’s great for startups and people in the finance or accounting field. The app enables you to create a simple yet flexible small business budget that you can break down into multiple departments. PlanGuru’s 20 forecasting tools are a top-selling point. It easily syncs with QuickBooks Online, Excel and Xero. PlanGuru is priced at $99/month.
Best Budgeting Apps for Partnerships and Family-Run Businesses
Managing budgets with another person can get a bit messy. Honeydew makes it simpler to track expenses together and is best for partnerships where you and your partner share the business bank account and credit cards. How? Honeydew allows you and your partner to link accounts, loans and credit cards to the app so you both can see each other’s status. It also enables you to create custom fields to categorize expenses, such as “office supplies,” “travel expenses” and “raw material cost.” The best part of Honeydew is its attractive pricing — free!
If you're seeking just a joint budgeting app with no other financial or accounting capabilities, try Wally. Wally’s features include joint expense and savings tracking so you and your partner or spouse can stay in sync. Business partners can build lists together and also upload receipts, lease agreements and bills so all documentation is easily accessible to both. Wally is also well-supported throughout the world, so it would fit perfectly for any digital nomad business structure. The app is free but has many in-app purchases that start at $2.99/month.
Is your spouse your partner in life and business? You both are managing it all — business, kids and additional caregiving duties — but are struggling to find time to sync the finances. Check out Firstly, an app that is exclusively designed to help partners or spouses who are juggling multiple responsibilities. You can sync multiple bank accounts, customize budgets and saving goals, track expenses and even pay bills. Firstly is free to use.
Sometimes simpler is better — that’s certainly the case with Spendee. This no-fuss budgeting app has a life-long free version and a premium version at $14.99/year. You can import and export transactions, set up a budget, categorize expenses and also share the metrics with anyone else (accountant, business partner or spouse).
Thinking of budgeting and complex apps giving you a panic attack? Don’t worry and try out Unspent. The app’s beauty is in its simplicity. It’s an easy-to-use finance app that lets you create one-off budgets (home office or raw materials) and track spending, making it a clean and basic app. If you don’t want to overthink the budget with fancy charts and bank connections, then this app might just be the one for you. Unspent costs $0.99/month.
What Features Should I Look for in a Budgeting App?
There are several excellent apps there in the market and choosing the right budgeting app is another decision you have to take as the head of business. The correct app can make a significant difference in your venture’s bottom line. Here’s what you should be looking for while shopping for a budgeting app.
Meets Your Financial Goals
Are you an overspender who needs to curb the reins a bit or are you looking for an effective way to budget with your business partner? Trying to save for some long-term investment like retirement or capital or do you want to pay off any debt? If you know your WHY, then it’s easier to find a budgeting app that will match it.
The Right Pricing
Is there a free trial? While the majority of the apps are free and offer a free trial, to access some of the app’s most-loved features, you might need to dish out a small monthly fee. Remember to read the fine lines to see if there are any undisclosed charges like automatic renewal.
The Features Are Useful
There are standard features across most apps, but is there anything specific you are seeking? It’s easier to narrow down your “must-haves” when you have a clear financial goal.
Some neat and popular features that budgeting apps offer are:
Bill payment reminders
Ability to share budgets with others
Auto-sync transactions from banks
Automatic transaction categorization
With the increase in cybercrimes, security should be a top priority when you are comparing budgeting apps, as the majority can be synced to your bank accounts. While reviewing an app’s website, look for security features such as 256-bit encryption and multi-factor authentication.
Good Technical Support
If there are any discrepancies in the synced bank transactions or you made an error in bill payment, what sort of support or technical team is there to assist you? Browsing other customer reviews on the app store can help you to get a better picture of a company’s after purchase support.
Taking Control of Your Money
Setting up and sticking to a budget isn’t exciting. It might feel like you are going on a diet — a financial diet. But learning to curb spending and avoid going overboard is a wise move for any business owner.
Using a budgeting app can make budgeting, finances and savings for a rainy day a lot more manageable and simpler. What’s the best app for you? Well, like clothes and exercises where there are multiple options, it comes down to what works best for you instead of what’s trendy.
We hope our list of budgeting apps makes the budgeting and the numbers portion of your business easier. But, if you need more support, Incfile can still help. We have helped numerous small business owners with their bookkeeping, accounting and taxes so they can build a brighter and stronger future for their businesses.
Swara Ahluwalia is a freelance content writer with experience in the technical, B2B and SaaS domain. She also has curated content for various lifestyle brands. In her downtime, you will most likely find Swara training for her next marathon or spending time with her two daughters.