5 Best Budget Apps for Couples
Money is one of the biggest causes of divorce in America. Many an argument has been started based on money: too much, too little, spending, not spending, and everything in between. It doesn’t have to be that way though. One of the most important things in a relationship is communication.
Get on the Same Page
If you want to have a successful marriage, you need to be on the same page. That means setting goals as a couple and then working together to reach them. Most couples will tend to have one saver and one spender, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have shared goals. You have to decide what the most important things are for each of you, and then make it a priority to hit those goals.
Now that you’re on the same page, you need to stay on the same page. That means regular budget meetings. How often you do it is up to you, but it needs to be on a regular basis so everyone knows what is going on. My wife and I find that it’s easier if we do it more often, so we’ve been getting together once or twice a week. When you do it that often, there aren’t as many transactions and it only takes a few minutes. Some couples will only do it once a month, and that’s fine too. The most important thing is that you stay on the same page, and keep working towards your shared budget goals.
The Best Budget Apps for Couples
Generally speaking, a budget app doesn’t need to do that much to be great for a family. You just need to be able to link multiple bank accounts, and you have to be able to share among multiple devices. Most of the best modern budgeting apps can all do that. As long as a budgeting app can meet those minimums it can work for couples. All of the following will do those things and more.
Ok yeah, obviously I’m biased. My wife and I have been using Swift Budget since before it had a name, and I made it to meet our needs. I’m very happy with how it turned out, and we use it twice a week every week to stay on top of our expenses and know where all of our money is going.
Educated Guesses – This helps speed up your budgeting. We try to pick the right envelope whenever possible. We don’t automatically put it there unlike some of the others though so that you can confirm everything. Sometimes it’s not possible to guess, and sometimes you might need to split a transaction between multiple categories. Letting you confirm gives a more accurate view of your budget.
Rules – If you do something often that we don’t have a guess for, you can make your own rules. This saves time by allowing you to easily confirm those transactions every time in the future.
Envelope Budgeting – We think this is the best way to budget. Fill up your envelopes and then spend out of them. It’s a subtle difference, but the psychology is important when compared to just looking back at what you spent. Envelopes should affect what you actually spend. If you don’t have enough money in a category, don’t buy that thing. Just categorizing things after the fact doesn’t have the same impact.
YNAB bases their software around 4 rules:
- Give every dollar a job – Prioritize what is important to you and then only spend on those things.
- Embrace your true expenses – Break down larger less frequent expenses into monthly manageable amounts. If you have an annual insurance bill, you need to plan for it. Budget for it monthly and when it comes around you can just pay it.
- Roll with the punches – Life happens. When it does your budget needs to change, go ahead and change it.
- Age your money – Budget for the future. Stop living paycheck to paycheck. Work towards getting to the point where you don’t need your paycheck right now. This paycheck is for next months expenses, not last month, or today.
Mint is probably one of the easiest to use budgeting apps. That can be good or bad depending on your point of view. It automatically organizes all of your spending so you can quickly see how much you spend and in what areas. This can be nice, but it doesn’t necessarily help you spend less if that’s what your goal is. It’s much more backward-looking than some of the other options. Of course, some of the automatic categorizations are going to be wrong for your spending, but it does a decent job. It is very nice to get an overview of your situation though.
- Credit score monitoring
- Bill reminders
- Net worth tracker
Personal Capital is probably the most recommended budgeting app in the financial independence community. I have a hunch that is at least partially because of their generous affiliate program, but it is a really nice app as well. It does most of the same things as Mint including automatic categorization. The best part of Personal Capital for me is their extensive net worth tracking. Import all of your accounts and track your money over time. Even if you don’t use it for budgeting, it can still be useful for you. I personally use it in addition to Swift Budget just for the net worth tracking.
Honeydue is designed specifically for couples and has several features designed specifically for them. It has built-in chat and the ability to add notes to transactions to ask questions back and forth. My wife and I definitely have questions on things sometimes so this is a nice feature. Another feature that is nice is offering reminders for recurring bills.
The graphics are nice and it includes several nice charts of your spending. The only thing I found annoying is that it again categorizes everything automatically, and the first 2 transactions I saw it got wrong. Overall it’s a nice app though with a lot of great features for couples.
Which should you use? It mostly comes down to personal preference. I’m certainly partial to Swift Budget, but personal finance is personal. I recognize budgeting isn’t one size fits all. You might find you get different things from different apps. I personally use at least 3 different apps for different things. Try them out, see what fits your style the best. The most important thing is to actually start tracking your spending and talking about your budget with your significant other. That is more important than which personal finance app you use.