College students have so much on their plate between attending multiple lectures, completing assignments, and studying for tests. Some college students may even hold a part-time job that they must juggle in between their class schedules. It’s also typically their first experience with having student loans, paying for rent, etc. It can be overwhelming for the average student to suddenly be responsible for money management.
Spending too much is a common problem for many adults as many personal finance gurus will tell you. So, how does a student handle budgeting, college life, and managing their own finances? Getting credit score monitoring is definitely not the answer. Luckily, there are plenty of budgeting, investing, and personal finance tools and apps out there that can help. Budget apps can help college students manage their money through college, save, and invest in the right way. Using one in this stage of life will make it likely to build better spending habits and money management skills in the future.
Let’s take a closer look at budgeting apps and why college students should take them into consideration for their money management. We’ll examine how these apps can help, what they do, and give your our picks for the best budgeting apps for college students that can greatly benefit your finances while in school.
Benefits of Using a Budgeting App
You can review website after website about budgets, but it’s not going to make a difference if you don’t practice what you preach. In these times, most of us don’t keep a notebook to keep track of expenses or use a checkbook for each transaction. A budgeting app allows us to do all this with a couple of taps on your phone. This makes the process a breeze so it is much easier to stay on budget.
You can find areas where you might be overspending because you’re separating your purchases by categories. If you have savings goals or want to make a big purchase, you can also set these goals and adjust accordingly.
What to Look for in Budgeting Apps for College Students
With so many budgeting apps out there, how does the average student know what to look for? Follow these tips to learn what to look for in an app as a student who wants to manage their money better while in college.
Decide on your Goal
The app is simply a vehicle to help reach your goals. Decide on what financial goals you hope to achieve and match those up with the app that will help get you there.
The app is available for your Device
Not every app supports Apple, Android, or other operating systems. An app that’s not available on your device is not going to help you. So focus on looking at the budgeting apps available for your device. We’ll discuss recommendations for budget apps that are available in the App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android) since these are the platforms that most college students use.
Free Trials and Free Versions
Let’s face the facts. As a student, you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on a budget app. Budgeting apps for college use must meet the budget of the average college student, which means that you should be able to try it at least for free.
Using a budgeting app for a short while will tell you whether or not it’s a tool that you will find useful. You might have to supply your email address, but it’s worth it to test out whether an app will work for your needs. There’s usually a free version you can use for a while to do just that. You can always unsubscribe from their email list later.
Now, it may seem counterintuitive to pay for an app that helps you budget. But if the budget app can maximize your college student income and minimize expenses, it’s going to be worth it.
Can Sync it with your Bank Account?
The best budgeting apps will feature ways to synch your existing bank account with your budget. This allows spending to get tracked automatically on the app when using debit cards to pay for expenses such as a phone bill.
Good Security features
Multi-factor authentication that will prove your identity through your email address and/or cell phone should be a standard. Every financial tool should have these features.
Ability to Customize Spending Categories
These apps will typically have preset categories that you can use for expenses like food, rent, and other common expenses. But you may want to track your transactions in a different way as a college student. Look for one that allows you to customize your spending categories so that you can itemize your expenses according to your needs.
Best Budgeting Apps for College Students
Your finances are much easier to track and manage with your mobile device. You can keep up with your expenses while having the college funds to use on study sessions at the coffee shop or celebrate the end of finals with food. The best budgeting apps will make personal finance in college more manageable.
Below is our list of the best budgeting apps and the features we find most useful for managing your income and expenses as a college student.
Mint is one of those budget tools that you’ve probably heard someone like Dave Ramsey mention. You can’t talk about the best budgeting apps for students without talking about apps like Mint. So why does Mint stand out as a budgeting app? Well, Mint offers a secure connection with your existing accounts. That means all of your transactions are automatically inputted into your account so you don’t have to review all your bills and track expenses.
You’re spending more time analyzing where your spending is going than the manual work involved with tracking all your spending. Having a budget could not be made easier when you use Mint as your app for your personal finance needs. If you want to learn more, check out our complete Mint review here.Click Here To Get Started
PocketGuard is great for students who find it hard to keep track of their transactions or tend to overspend. After considering your bills, goals, and necessary expenses, PocketGuard will show you how much money you have to place in other categories. It’s easy to track your expenses using the chart that shows you how much you can spend in each category.
Since you can use PocketGuard to track all your accounts (bank accounts, credit cards, and more), you can easily budget your money using its features. You can keep track of your income, emergency fund account, savings, and more using this feature to see what funds you have leftover each month. The automatic alerts provide you with the option to save more money by reviewing your billing statements. This feature will look at your bills and show you ways that you could save on your account through promotions for example.Click Here To Get Started
Wally is one of the best apps for college students because it has a feature that provides a visual overview of your spending. Students can easily see what their basic necessities are. Signing up for an account provides you with a calendar view of your bills so you never miss a payment.
Another feature that the company offers is a “joint banking” option that allows you to put together a budget for the entire account (group). Syncing your bank account(s) will also allow you to take advantage of finding insights into your cash flow and spending habits.Click Here To Get Started
Simple is an app that can be linked up to your bank accounts so you can create a budget to follow. This way of tracking your spending is effective because you get real-time information on how you’re tracking with your budget. One of the other best features of this app is that you can track all your income and expenditures so it’s not a separate process. Staying on top of your spending equals more savings for you. And the convenience of tracking all your banking needs in one puts you in a place where budgets are easy peasy.Click Here To Get Started
For all the Dave Ramsey fans, EveryDollar is the best choice for those who want to make sure use of Baby Steps to get out of debt and maximize savings. This is one of the best apps to use if you’re using the zero-based budgeting method. With the help of this app, you can work on keeping free of debt or paying it off. That allows you the freedom to work on the rest of your financial goals.Click Here To Get Started
If you’re focusing on personal finance goals like investing or saving for retirement, Personal Capital might be the best option for you. The dashboard allows you to view your investments as well as determine your net worth by using the asset allocation tool. You can also keep track of your savings and your spending so you can make the most of your finances.
Using this tool, you can get a sense of your retirement savings by connecting your retirement accounts. Plus you can use this information to figure out where you might need to reduce your spending, where you could save money, and ways to adjust your budget.Click Here To Get Started
This money-savings app does much more than helping you keep track of your budget and spending. You’ll get suggestions from Albert on how you can save money. For example, it may suggest that you cancel a subscription or cut down on dining out.
You may also receive text message notifications from finance experts that will help you make decisions on how you spend your money. That means you could send a text message to ask an expert whether based on your budget, you could make a specific purchase or not.Click Here To Get Started
Dollarbird works differently from other budgeting apps like Mint because of how it tracks expenses. It uses a calendar system, instead of categories. This way of tracking your budget is easier because it uses a daily approach to spending. In order to use this app, you’ll have to manually enter your transactions.
Recurring transactions will also have to be confirmed and placed on the date that occurs each month. Despite these manual processes, Dollarbird is useful for determining if you need to make adjustments to your budget.Click Here To Get Started
Our last choice of the best budgeting apps is brought to you by Goldman Sachs. Now, Goldman has recently shut down its Clarity Money app. They had originally purchased the Clarity Money in 2018. The features and capabilities of this app have to lead to the creation of this financial management tool.
Users get a top-down view of all their financial accounts, insights on their spending, plus a snapshot of their budget that’s available monthly. In order to use this app, you must be a current customer of MarcusClick Here To Get Started
Bottom Line: Budgeting Apps For College Students
The best budgeting app is the one that you will use. It’s not going to make a difference in your financial life if the app is just sitting there on your device and never used. Try a few of these budgeting apps out and decide which one works for you and stick with it.