Apps like Mint and Clarity Money give you power over your financial life.
Tracking your spending is key to knowing where you can cut back and where you could be putting more money away. Sure, you can do it with old-fashioned pencil and paper—no shame in that. But in the digital age, you have other (but still free!) options. Here is a closer look at the old favorite Mint, as well Clarity Money, a great alternative.
This is the granddaddy of budgeting tools—and it’s no wonder it gets so much love. With Mint, you can safely and securely pull together your checking and savings accounts, as well as credit cards, loans, and investments—including 529 college savings accounts for your kids, your 401(k), or an IRA. Mint’s overview of your finances, neatly displayed in assorted graphs, charts, and lists, is a sight to behold.
Mint can also set up a monthly budget for you. To get you started, there are some preexisting categories, like “groceries,” “rent,” and “mortgage payments.” You can also create custom budgets, which is great for a family vacation, tracking spending at back-to-school time, or holiday gift-giving. As your transactions come in, they’re automatically deducted from these different budgets. When you spend beyond what you’ve allocated, Mint sends you an alert, nudging you back toward frugality other important money goals. to get it done.
Unlike Mint, this prettily designed app does not track non-financial bills, such as insurance and utilities. And you can’t add offline information like rent you owe or cash you paid your babysitter. But like Mint, it’s free, and it links all your accounts into one personal financial clearinghouse. Clarity can also send you notifications (low balance alert, spending update, bill due date, etc.), track bills, and help you set and meet savings goals. Unique to Clarity, the “Anything You’d Like to Cancel?” screen suggests potentially wasteful recurring charges to cancel.