Want a simple way to spend less money? Set up a budget and stick to it. If you want to live comfortably within your means, you must exercise financial discipline.
You don’t have to resort to a pen and paper or a complicated spreadsheet for setting a budget anymore. As the saying goes, “there’s an app for that”.
If you’re looking for the best budget apps in Canada, this article is for you. A budget app can help you manage your personal finances and get you on track to meet your financial goals.
At least 20% of Canadians use a digital tool (mostly a mobile app) for budgeting
Budget App Comparison Table – Top 6
|App Name||Award||Cost||Link to App|
|Koho||Best Budget App for a Reloadable Visa Card||Free||Link|
|Mint||Best Free comprehensive Budgeting app||Free||Android | iOS|
|You Need A Budget||Best Paid comprehensive budgeting app||Free for 34 days | US $11.99 per month, US $84 per year||Android | iOS|
|Mylo||Best Saving and Investing budgeting app||The app is Free | $3 Flat investment fee||Android | iOS|
|iXpenseIt||Best iOS-only budgeting app||US $4.99 (In-app purchases and subscriptions cost extra)||iOS|
|Splitwise||Best group budgeting and expense tracking apps||Free | US $0.99 per month or US $11 per year for Android Users | onetime $1.99 for Apple Users||Android | iOS|
Pros and Cons of Using Budgeting Apps
No tool in the world is perfect, and budgeting apps are no exception. Despite the fact that they provide a valuable service, budgeting apps have their cons as well.
- Easy to set up and use, even if you hate doing math.
- Help people organize their messy finances.
- You can track your expenses in real-time, which prevents you from making useless/impulse purchases.
- It can help you improve your cash flow and prevent you from accumulating more debt.
- Let you see the bigger financial picture, provoking good financial habits.
- Requires you to share your personal and financial data.
- You will have to bear with ads in free apps.
- It can only provide insights and tips, and can’t correct behavior.
- If you don’t change your habits despite warnings and help from budgeting apps, it doesn’t really help your situation at all.
17 Best Budget App Canada
Before we start the list, understand that not all budget apps are the same. While the goal of all budget apps is to help you create a personal budget, there are several ways an app might go about it. Some track your spending, while others focus more on earning you cashback or helping you find discounts and deals to lighten the load from your budget. Some budget apps can also include a saving and investing plan, i.e., controlling the bigger picture of your personal finances.
Some budget apps are paid, some are free. Some have both free and paid versions, one with limited features and others offering you the full power of the app. How you plan to create and manage your budget should influence your choice more than the popular consensus about the best budget app Canada is.
How it works: Budget, spend and save. Cashbacks, and automated savings goal. Doubles as a pre-paid Visa card.
Cost: KOHO and KOHO Joint are Free | KOHO Premium: $9 per month ($84 per year)
Sign up here: Link
KOHO is more than just a budgeting app. It’s a free chequing account that doesn’t just help you budget; it also helps you automate your savings and lets you earn cashback (0.5% on all purchases, more with premium). It makes budgeting easier by limiting your spending potential.
You can preload your spending money on a KOHO card, and then you keep track of your budget and spending. You will also get insights on your spending habits and access to financial coaching that can help you develop better financial habits.
One of the best automated-saving features that KOHO offers is spare change saving. With that roundup feature on, say you bought something online that cost you $15.75 total.
The app will stash away the $0.25 in savings and round the total up to $16. It might seem puny, but it can really add up. There are no additional fees, and you can earn even more cashback by shopping with select merchants.
2. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
How it works: Characteristic budgeting method, comprehensive expense breakdown (six categories), goal tracking, Reports
Cost: Free for 34 days | US $11.99 per month, US $84 per year
Link to app: Android | iOS
You Need a Budget is another budgeting app that helps you keep track of your spending and your budget, albeit in a different manner. Unlike apps that track your spending, YNAB focuses on a plan-first and stick-to-it approach. Their four rules of budgeting are: Give every dollar a job (cash envelope system), identify and embrace your true expense, roll with the punches, and age your money.
Despite its assertive name, YNAB has a laid-back interface. The app helps you balance your income and expenses (before they are incurred, ideally).
Its expense breakdown is, I believe the key to its effectiveness because when users can differentiate between immediate and true expenses, they can allocate funds more effectively. It also offers a plethora of support material, including hundreds of online workshops.
How it works: Easy budgeting, Shared wallets, Accommodate multiple currencies (including crypto), Cash Flow tracking for better understanding of spending habits
Cost: Free | Spendee Plus: US $14.99/ year | Spendee Premium: US$22.99/Year
Link to app: Android | iOS
Spendee is another paid app, though it’s significantly cheaper than YNAB. Its free version is fairly limited since it doesn’t allow you to sync up bank accounts with the app, let’s you manage just one cash wallet, and create and track one budget. App’s true potential can be unlocked by buying its premium version, which allows you to create and share multiple wallets and budgets, ideal for families or roommates, etc.
Apart from the sharing feature, the best part about Spendee is its accounting for multiple currencies. This makes it perfect for digital nomads and freelancers. The ability to create multiple budgets and keep multiple wallets may help you take the cash envelope system to another level.
Mint is an app by Intuit, the software company that is responsible for Turbotax and QuickBooks, meaning it has a powerful background. It has stellar ratings: 4.5 on Google Play Store and 4.7 on the App Store. It’s arguably one of the best budgeting apps in the world.
It’s a powerful, in-depth budgeting app that allows you to connect all your bank accounts and credit cards, so it can simultaneously track your net worth and spending. It used to have a bill-paying feature, but now it just sends you alerts when a payment is due, along with the fact that whether or not you can pay it with the money you currently have.
You can also keep track of your credit score and receive tips on how you can improve it. For budgeting, it has many pre-made categories, but you can create your own as well. It’s comprehensive and very user-friendly.
How it works: Rounds up your purchases, helps you save and invest.
Cost: App is Free | $3 Flat investment fee
Sign up here: Link
If we are talking about apps that round up your purchases and help you save money, Mylo (which is now renamed to a cooler ‘Moka’) takes it a step ahead of KOHO. You don’t just save your money, you invest and grow it. It’s automated saving and automated investing. You can invest your money in registered accounts (TFSA or RRSP) for tax-free and tax-deferred growth.
Your money is typically invested by a dedicated portfolio manager, usually in ETFs. The company also leans towards responsible investing, which means your money grows in companies that are contributing to their communities and the world. It also offers cashback perks.
Now, Mylo might not seem like a typical budgeting app, but in a way, it can contribute more towards your financial well-being than many in-depth budgeting apps.
Once you see an actual, quantifiable impact of investment that basically comprises of your loose change, and you see how it grows over time, it can motivate you to invest and grow your wealth on a larger scale. That will inevitably require you to save more and keep your budget in shape.
The Wallet is an app created and managed by budgetbakers.com, and it’s another easy-to-use app with a comprehensive interface. The website contains all the features of a comprehensive budgeting app, like connecting to your bank accounts (a premium feature that needs to be paid for), build budgets, and see spending reports to discern your spending habits.
The app is very well-liked and rated, as it allows you a lot of control over managing your money. The company claims to take data privacy very seriously, and don’t leak your information to anyone. You can sync your accounts, plan your payments, set your budget and other financial goals, and also manage your long term debts with Wallet.
7. Spending Tracker
Spending tracker is a very easy to use app that ironically, is liked more for the depth and variety of its budgeting features, and more for a simple interface. The simultaneously best and worst feature of this app is that it doesn’t need to be connected to your bank accounts and your credit cards.
It’s amazing for those who don’t like having third party apps have access to this information. But it’s bad for reconciling all the numbers, which makes budgeting relatively harder.
It’s a simple enough app. You have to input your income and spending data, and it helps you track your budget and spending. You can also export the data in CSV format. It offers various categories for proper tracking of your expenses and backs up your data to Dropbox.
Despite the name, it can’t guard your pockets against your intrusive and sometimes dangerously generous hands. What it can do is keep track of how much money you have left to spend after you pay off all your financial obligations.
A simple pie chart lets you track the biggest chunks of your spending, so you can find out ways to mitigate those payments (like refinancing your mortgage or switching to a cheaper car for lower monthly auto loan payment).
You can connect all of your banks, credit card and savings account with the app, to help you see the big picture of your assets and liabilities. It specifically leans towards paying your bills on time and offer you tips to help you reduce your bills and renegotiate rates.
9. Good Budget
A good budget is a powerful budgeting app with a relatively weak free version. With the free app, you get ten regular envelopes and ten more envelopes. This means you can divide your income into about 20 different envelopes, each allocated for a different expense you have to meet or something else you want to spend money on (like hoteling, saving for a vacation, etc.). It also only keeps records for up to a year.
The plus version is significantly more powerful. It offers you an unlimited number of envelopes to allocate your funds to. Good Budget also focuses on couples that need to sync up their income, expenses, and shared spending. You can also use that app to start working on paying off your debt and saving for huge expenses (Marriage).
10. Smart Receipts
Smart Receipts is not a budgeting app per se, but rather a budgeting tool. It allows you to upload all your receipts (whether business or personal), and track your expenses efficiently and effectively. The company has a partnership with Taggun, so when you scan your receipts for saving, all the data is compiled and saved. This makes sorting it very easy.
This app leans more towards report generation. So if you are working and traveling, you can keep track of all your work expenses for your employer.
How it works: Split expenses in groups, tracks balance for each member, track cash changing hands between group members.
Cost: Free | US $0.99 per month or US $11 per year for Android Users | onetime $1.99 for Apple Users
Link to app: Android | iOS
Splitwise is loved dearly by people who have communal expenses, i.e., family members living together, college roommates, etc. The app allows you to create groups that have combined expenses, then keep track of who is paying how much, and who owes how much money to whom.
You can create equal and unequal splits, simplify debts, easily manage recurring expenses, and record spending totals. It’s a very powerful group budgeting app.
The pro-features start with an ad-free app, receipt scanning, itemized billing, expense search, and save default splits. If you believe in the quote, “there are two ways to lose a friend, one is to borrow, other is to lend,” then you can appreciate the service this app provides.
How it works: Accounts and budget management, transaction and receipt tracking, customizable reporting.
Cost: US $4.99 (In-app purchases and subscriptions cost extra)
Link to app: iOS
iExpenselt is a decent expense tracking and budgeting app that’s not available on android. It helps you keep up-to-date on your expense tracking by leveraging receipt scanning.
It can be used by six family members simultaneously and facilitate bank transfers. You can get your bill notifications and all the relevant reports that you get with other budgeting apps.
It also lets you compare your daily expenses to your average daily expenses, to help you identify when you are spending more. This is highly useful for weekend spending. Also, by tracking your income and cash flow, you know how much money is coming in and going out of your pocket, and whether you are in the position of saving or going into cash deficit.
Wealthica is also considered a Personal Capital replacement for Canada. At its core, it’s not necessarily a budgeting app, rather an investment and finance tracking app. But we can stretch the definition of budgeting here to include your personal wealth growth and its tracking.
And the best part is that it’s completely free. The app allows you to track all the fees you are paying towards your investment management (which is an important part of your budget, if you are an avid investor).
You can track your family’s net worth as well, and keep tabs on events that might be impacting your overall household wealth.
PocketSmith is a typical budgeting app, with an additional forecasting feature. Its budget calendar is very similar to other budgeting apps. The cash flow forecasting feature gives you easy to understand visual feedback. Based on expenses, it can help you predict how much you’ll spend and how much you’ll have left in the next 30 days.
The app can connect to the bank feed in Canada, but only in the paid versions.
Paymi is a free cashback app. While other budgeting apps actually discourage you from spending more, Paymi incentivizes your spending and lets you earn cashback that you can redeem. It’s not a budgeting tool by itself, but if you are focusing on your budget, then making money off of your usual, necessary purchases is a smart idea to keep your Wallet and funds in order.
Caddle is another Canadian-only app that lets you earn cashback and breathe some life back into your budget. It goes a step further and allows you to earn money from paid surveys as well. When you are using a cashback app in conjunction with an actual budgeting app, you are likely to be a more careful spender because you can only buy certain things from certain vendors to maximize your cashback.
17. Checkout 51
Closing the list is a cashback app from across the border. The good thing about Checkout 51 is the range of brands it works with. By offering a wider variety of brands and items that you can earn cashback on, this app can help you lighten the load on your budget. If you don’t want to put the cashback amount back into your spending budget, you can invest it.
Budgeting apps can be an amazing way to visualize your expenses, track your spending, and improve your financial behavior. Since most of these apps prioritize paying off your financial obligations, using them can ensure that you don’t incur any more debt and that you aren’t making your credit score even worse.
But remember that no app can force you to act upon its insights, that is the brave step that you’ll have to take on your own. The right app will certainly help, but you have to bring the change in your spending habits yourself.
If you want to learn how other ways to save, check out these frugal living tips in Canada.