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Master Your Finances: The Ultimate Guide to the Best Budgeting Apps for Europeans in 2023

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Best Budgeting Apps for Europeans

Discover the best budgeting apps for iPhone, Android, and desktop. Learn how to choose the right app for your financial goals and lifestyle. Get started on mastering your budget today.

You might have heard more than once in your life that effective money management is the key to your wealth and financial success. Financial planning and budgeting do help raise your income consistently, save for big goals, pay off debts, and stay the course even when things seem to get out of hand. Yet at the start, when you are not used to being in charge of your money, even monthly budget planning may look like an overwhelming task that can be handled only by people with strong self-discipline and a money savvy mindset.

But it’s not as hard as it seems! You don’t have to be alone on this journey: there are plenty of budget trackers on app stores that will take on the lion’s share of your budgeting chores. They will help you set spending limits to tame impulsive shopping, track your expenses by category and income by source, budget jointly as a couple and much more.

How Do Budgeting Apps Work?

Budgeting apps are free or paid software applications that run on a computer and/or mobile phone. They typically allow you to plan a budget and track your incoming and outgoing cash flows. Most of them also offer a range of additional features, e.g. overspending alerts, debt payoff planners, credit score monitoring tools, portfolio trackers, and others.

Many budgeting apps sync with your financial accounts and import all your transactions in real time saving you the trouble of manual entry. Based on the data retrieved, they build graphs and dashboards providing a holistic view of your money movement with trends and insights. Depending on the functionality, budgeting apps can also provide financial advice, build custom forecasts, and identify weak spots in your budget. Furthermore, since budgeting apps handle your financial information, they have a number of security features such as data encryption, PINs, Touch ID, and multi-factor identification.

Criteria for Choosing a Budgeting App

The market is flooded with budgeting apps tailored to various needs and objectives, so choosing the right one for you can be a tricky task. First of all, you should decide whether you’re willing to pay for a subscription and, if so, what fee is affordable to you. Then set your financial goals to select options with specific tools and features that will help you accomplish those goals. Let’s say you want to save for a trip around Europe, get an overview of your spending habits, or learn how to manage income from various freelance projects. You can find a few solutions for each of these objectives. After that, install a handful of apps and try to navigate their interface. Is it simple and intuitive? Are graphs and pie charts easy-to-understand? Are there any prompts that guide you through the app? Is Customer Support quick and efficient? Paid budgeting apps usually offer a free demo version so you can test them as well. It’s also a good idea to check the security features for you to feel safe about your data.

Best Budgeting Apps for Europeans in 2023

To save your time and effort, we picked the 7 best budgeting apps that connect to banks and financial services across Europe. Take a closer look: perhaps one of them will become your reliable budgeting assistant for many years.

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

Regularly featured on various app ratings and reviews, YNAB has a solid reputation as a top budgeting tool with a focus on savings and paying off debts. The team claims that the average user saves $600 in two months and $6,000 in the first year. Impressive, isn’t it? This result is achieved through a financial goal tracker that helps you manage priorities and monitor your progress, and a loan planner aimed at early loan repayment by increasing your monthly payment and saving on interest.

The app combines a proactive approach that focuses on planning ahead (ideally, income should be a month ahead of expenses), with a zero-based budgeting method that assigns each dollar a specific task. The team provides comprehensive assistance to its users on their path to financial well-being by offering super responsive customer support, as well as online workshops and guides on various financial literacy topics.

YNAB has mobile and desktop versions and is free for the first 34 days. After this period, the subscription will cost $14.99 per month or $99 per year. The app can be linked to your bank accounts and syncs across all devices in real-time. The company claims that all user data is encrypted and protected as securely as in a bank.

Spendee

Spendee is there for overspenders. The app offers a range of effective solutions to help you curb impulse buying and change your shopping habits for the better. It allows you to categorise all your expenses and set spending limits, whereafter it makes sure you stay within your budget by letting you know how much more money you can spend today. Colourful graphs and pie charts help you track your spending history, see where most of your money is going, and make adjustments to your expenses.

Spendee’s interface has nothing in excess, therefore it is easy to navigate and is perfect for newbies who are just dipping their toes into the world of budgeting. Spendee is a multi-currency app, which is good news for digital nomads, and it also enables you to manage a shared budget with your partner, spouse or roommate. The app supports integration with both bank accounts and digital and crypto wallets, which is incredibly convenient for those who use a variety of assets and like to keep money in different places. Although integration is only available for Premium subscribers ($22.99 per year), you can try the free version first to see if Spendee is a match for you or not.

Moneydance

Moneydance is a go-to choice for those who are ready to go further and get a bird’s eye view of their personal finances, as well as dive into details. A comprehensive summary table displays all your assets and liabilities, including your account balances, credit cards, loans, and mortgages. It also shows your upcoming and past-due bills and lets you schedule notifications for recurring and single payments to avoid delays in the future. Customizable graphs and reports help you diagnose your financial health, e.g. analyse your income and expense history, net worth building, asset allocation, and any other metrics you’re interested in.

To make your money work for you, Moneydance provides the capability to estimate your investments, particularly to track the performance of your entire portfolio and individual securities, calculate the cost basis and capital gains, and account for stock splits. A transaction categorisation feature is also included providing the ability to add tags to track, for example, how much money you spent on a wedding or during a business trip. The app supports multiple currencies, automatically converting them at the current exchange rate.

Unfortunately, the full functionality is only available in the desktop version. In the mobile app, you can only add and edit transactions, and check your account balances. The company offers a monthly, annual or lifetime subscription, but there is a demo version limited to 100 manually entered transactions and a 90-day money-back guarantee if the app falls short of your expectations.

MoneyWiz

MoneyWiz is localised into 23 languages and supports both fiat and crypto currencies, allowing you to track your savings and transactions in any form of money. The app has a handy calendar to schedule upcoming payments and earnings, which is great for those who juggle multiple projects. When it’s time to pay a bill or get paid for your job, MoneyWiz will send you a reminder. Your spending and income can be divided into categories and sub-categories: for example, you can break down your car expenses into fuel, repairs, maintenance and insurance, and track each of these metrics separately to gain insight.

MoneyWiz integrates analytics tools enabling you to generate graphs and reports on the cash flow for each account and make forecasts based on historical data. If you are a global citizen with accounts in different countries around the world, you have nothing to worry about as the app connects with more than 40,000 banks in 50+ countries. However, there is a big downside: MoneyWiz only runs on iOS and macOS, so all Android users are out of play. The subscription is paid but you can try the app for free for a week.

PocketSmith

PocketSmith is a must-have app for those who are used to planning years in advance. Depending on the subscription, the user can predict their financial freedom 0.5, 10 and even 30 years ahead, down to the day. Moreover, you can create what-if scenarios to see how your potential financial decisions may affect your future well-being and consequently reduce your risks.

Of course, PocketSmith has a full range of common budgeting tools, including a calendar to schedule income and expenses, a cash flow statement, transaction categorisation, over-budget spending alerts, and so on. The company advocates a flexible approach to budgeting so that you build a healthy relationship with your money and stick to your budgeting habits. That’s why you can create custom reports and dashboards to highlight what’s important to you and plan a budget for any period you like rather than for a calendar month.

PocketSmith is well suited for expats, freelancers and digital nomads, as it allows you to track different income streams and convert account balances from one currency to another at the current exchange rate. Plus, the app has access to 12,000 banks and financial services worldwide, so you can link your accounts in different countries. PocketSmith has a free version with limited but fairly broad functionality, which sets it apart from competitors. The only con of the free version is that all the transactions have to be entered manually. However, the Foundation tariff plan at $9.99 per month (billed annually) is quite an affordable solution for most users.

Wally

Wally’s unique feature is the in-app AI called WallyGPT. WallyGPT is essentially your personal financial advisor that helps you track patterns in how you manage your personal finances and make adjustments, creates action plans for any financial goal such as paying off a student loan or saving money for a Caribbean vacation, selects financial services (credit cards, loans, investment services) catered to your financial situation, provides investment recommendations and more. As they say, the future is already here.

Wally takes a smart and detailed approach to personal finance management and budgeting. The app tracks and categorises all your expenses not only by area of life, but also by merchant so that you know who gets most of your money. In addition, Wally adapts to your lifestyle and lets you play the game by your own rules. For instance, you can customise your budget type and duration, change transaction categories, set repeat rules and create groups with friends and spouses to share your expenses on vacations, eating out, rent, etc.

Wally can import transactions from checking accounts, credit cards, loans, savings, and investment accounts at 15,000 banks in 70 countries. And this feature is available in a free version, which is very rare! Wally offers monthly, annual and once-in-a-lifetime subscriptions with advanced features, but the basic free version has everything you need for stress-free budgeting.

SayMoney

As the team puts it, “SayMoney is developed by you”, which means the app is created together with users through technical implementation of their needs. The app has a simple, intuitive interface and limited yet sufficient functionality to stay on top of your money without getting too bogged down in details.

SayMoney features voice input and voice output so you can enter transaction information and monitor your budget on the go. The app filters, sorts and groups all incoming data to give you a clear picture of your income and expenses. The recurring revenue and expenditure feature can be used to predict your earnings, as well as review your subscriptions and services and cancel those you don’t use anymore.

Some important features such as budgeting are only available in the paid Pro version, but you can first get acquainted with the interface and basic functions in the free version to evaluate the quality, speed and ease of use. Unfortunately, SayMoney does not import data from bank accounts. Yet it is suitable for those who do not trust the data protection and encryption technologies built into budgeting apps.

Budgeting for Freelancers

Freelancing is commonly associated with freedom: the freedom to choose projects, working hours, and location without being tied to an office and a standard 9-to-5 workweek. However, with greater flexibility comes greater responsibility. Freelancers have to be more disciplined and focused on budgeting than employees on a regular paycheck. Building a recurring revenue pipeline takes time, and while you’re not there, you are likely to have some breathtaking roller coaster rides. To smooth out the financial ups and downs, use a few simple tips:

  • Plan your income and expenses ahead. Calculate the minimum amount of money you need to stay financially afloat and make sure that your earnings from current and planned projects are enough to cover that amount. Put upcoming payments from your customers on a calendar to forecast your income by month and understand how many more projects you need to take on to meet your financial needs.
  • Set spending limits to avoid the temptation to go on a spending spree when you suddenly have a money shower. Again, think about the future.
  • Keep taxes in mind. Set aside 30% of each income you receive in a dedicated savings account to transfer the required amount to the tax authority at the end of the year.
  • Create a rainy day fund. Transfer a comfortable amount of money (usually 5–10% of each income) to your rainy day fund to use it in case of unexpected expenses like a visit to a doctor or a purchase of a new phone to replace the broken one.

Which budgeting apps are best for freelancers? You can actually use any apps where you can track different income streams, predict your earnings and expenses, and set spending limits, e.g. MoneyWiz, PocketSmith, Moneydance and others.

Budgeting for Families

A shared budget can become a stumbling block for a harmonious family life if you don’t know how to approach it. However, if you learn how to manage a family budget in the right way, it can be a powerful tool for achieving your common financial goals.

First, decide on the amount of money that each of you will contribute to the common pot. Then break down your monthly spending into common and individual expenses. Common expenses may include rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, groceries, insurance, loan payments, dining out together, family trips, and so on. Individual expenses include the needs and wants of each family member, e.g. hairdressers, clothing, gadgets and hobbies. It is important to discuss all expenses together and, if necessary, explain why this or that category is crucial for you to avoid misunderstandings and resentments.

Finally, decide on your common savings goals and start setting aside a percentage of your total income towards them if you have any funds left over. This could be anything from travelling together to your dream house to funding for your child’s college as long as the goal resonates with both of you and you’re willing to invest your money in it. Going back to budgeting apps, the US has dedicated tools for couples like Honeydue and Zeta. We didn’t find any of these in Europe, but you can use any budgeting apps where you can share or link accounts, for example, YNAB or Wally.

So, now you have an idea of what budgeting apps are, how they work, and what criteria to apply to choose the right one for you. In addition, you are familiar with the best budgeting apps in Europe of our choice. Before settling on a particular app and paying for a subscription, we recommend you select a pool of options you like best, install their free versions or start a trial period, and thoroughly study all the available functionality. Once you’ve chosen your favourite, you can pay for a monthly subscription and try out the advanced version to see if it’s worth the money. And only after that you can buy an annual or lifetime subscription. Thus you will avoid disappointment and waste of your hard-earned money.

FAQs

How do budgeting apps make money if they’re free?

Free budgeting apps usually have a paid version with additional functionality available via subscription. The free version serves as a demo for users to test the interface and basic features of the app and make a purchase decision. Some budgeting apps are completely free, but they may contain ads to make money.

Can I trust budgeting apps with my financial data?

Most advanced budgeting apps have bank-level user data protection. In addition to mandatory data encryption, they use PINs, Touch ID, Face ID and two-factor identification. You can find information about user financial data security on the website of a specific budgeting app.

How do budgeting apps handle multiple currencies?

Multi-currency budgeting apps have built-in algorithms that collect up-to-date exchange rates for supported fiat and cryptocurrencies and automatically convert your foreign account balances to the base currency you set, or display them in the account’s native currency if you prefer. Some budgeting apps aggregate exchange rates not only for money but also for other assets such as gold or silver. 

What’s the difference between manual-entry and automatic-entry apps?

Within manual-entry budgeting apps, you add all transactions, including income and expenses, either manually or by voice, and then the app breaks them down into categories. This is a more time-consuming approach. Automatic-entry budgeting apps link to your financial accounts such as checking accounts, loans, credit cards, savings and investment accounts, and export all your transaction data from them for further categorisation.

How do budgeting apps integrate with bank accounts?

Typically, budgeting apps integrate with bank accounts using third-party services. These are data providers that give apps access to user transaction history. Since the integration service is not free for the apps themselves, the automatic transaction entry feature is usually only available through a paid subscription.

Can I use budgeting apps to track investments or debts?

Yes, many budgeting apps offer features for tracking your debts and investment portfolio, including various tools for planning loan repayments and evaluating investment performance.

Are there budgeting apps that offer financial advice?

Yes, some budgeting apps provide financial advice. For example, Wally has WallyGPT, an in-app AI that makes personalised recommendations on investments and financial services, and creates an action plan to achieve a financial goal. However, you should not rely entirely on such tools. They can help you make better financial decisions but it is solely you who is responsible for the outcome.

Important notice:

The information is not intended to provide investment recommendations and opinions of any kind, and the financial instruments mentioned in it should not be considered as any kind of advice or offer to act or refrain from acting. It is your responsibility to determine whether a particular budgeting app matches your interests, goals, and acceptable risk level. CFPS is not responsible for possible losses in the case of making transactions or purchasing software mentioned in the article and does not recommend using this text as the only source of information when making a decision.