A good first step in the journey from beginner to personal finance wizard is to have a handle on your day-to-day expenses.
This means knowing how much you are making, how much you are spending, and what you can afford to save. Yup… we’re talking about the B word – BUDGETING.
To some, it can evoke the same feelings as a four letter word might.
Honestly, I’m not going to pretend that budgeting is fun and that paying attention to it will suddenly “make money easy”. But, by the same token, it’s not nearly as hard or painful as many make it out to be.
Technology has made the whole process easier than the old “sit down and write everything you spent + balance your cheque book days”. There are a number of personal finance apps as well as money saving apps to help you establish what spending will really bring you the most joy, and which spending would be better off as savings.
More money in your online broker account today equals much more money for future you (thanks compound returns), so take the leap and check out the best ways to manage your personal finances in Canada.
Best Personal Finance Apps Canada
Here are our top picks for the best apps to help you not spend your money, and therefore save for the future.
It’s likely you have heard of the Mint budgeting app before, and it’s easy to see why. It’s been around for over two decades and has hundreds of thousands of satisfied users, making it the #1 most downloaded personal finance app.
Mint gives you a full overview of your spending and savings at any given time as it seamlessly connects to all of your accounts, including investment accounts. It’s also got a useful tool called Mintsights that uses machine learning to help you predict potential sav1qings based on previous data, and will also offer you personalized advice and recommendations to help you gain the most from your budgeting experience.
With all of these features you might expect to at least pay a monthly fee to use the app, but it is completely free! You can see other recommended free personal finance apps here.
2. YNAB (You Need a Budget)
YNAB is for those that want to take a more active approach in learning about the budgeting process, so they are more knowledgeable and therefore more empowered to take control of their finances.
According to their site, within the first two months, budgeters will save an average of $600 and within a year, $6,000. That’s a fantastic savings rate achieved simply through the power of budgeting. YNAB’s unique methodology is what makes their platform so effective.
It’s a 4 step process that includes:
- Giving every dollar a job, so each dollar is allocated for a specific purpose even before the month begins. This makes it less likely for you to splurge on something you don’t need simply because you have a bit of cash “lying around” without a purpose.
- Plan for big, frequent expenses that come up throughout the year, like holiday shopping, and set aside a certain amount each month to prepare for it. That way, when it’s time to pony up the money for the expense, you won’t have to go into debt because you’ll already have the cash in the bank.
- Balance your budget as needed and compensate for overspending in a specific category. It’s similar to the envelope budgeting strategy. At the beginning of the month, you have set aside, or budgeted, a certain amount each month for each category. If you overspend on the monthly grocery budget for example, you can make up for it by taking the missing amount from the entertainment category. This allows for life to happen without feeling guilty for going over your allocated budget in one area.
- The last part of the plan is based on the concept of letting your money age. The goal is to spend money that is at least 30 days old. The idea is that using this cool little psychological trick, you’ll no longer be living paycheck to paycheck, as the money from last month will actually be paying for the following month’s expenses.
Unlike Mint, YNAB isn’t free, but with so much high quality content and unique features, you can consider it a solid investment. After a free 34 day trial, you’ll pay USD14.99 per month or USD98.99 per year. You can read our full YNAB review first (including a detailed comparison with Mint), or sign up using the button below.
Koho is one of the best money management apps in Canada. What sets KOHO apart from other budgeting apps is that it’s a money tracking, money saving, and money earning app all rolled into one.
How it works is after registering, you’ll get a prepaid reloadable Visa debit card. This is great for a few reasons, one is that if you are trying to limit spending, and you limit yourself to what is on the card, once it’s out of money, that’s your cue to stop spending for the month.
Because you are very mindful of the amount you have to spend, you may spend less. According to the KOHO website, users are likely to save 7% of the money they load onto their account.
What’s more, you earn interest on the entire amount you have in your KOHO account, 1.2% that is, once you set up direct deposit. If you are worried about safety, rest assured that up to $100,000 is CDIC protected.
One last way to save with KOHO is simply by making purchases with your KOHO Visa card. You’ll earn at least 0.5% cash back on all purchases, and up to 10% when you shop online with their selected partners.
KOHO does not charge any fees, but offers a premium version for $9 per month or $84 per year.
PocketSmith is a personal finance app that places an emphasis on the personal aspect of budgeting and planning for the future.
It offers the basics you would expect from a budgeting app, plus a whole lot more. Users will be able to customize their dashboards, automatically import transactions, manage combined incomes and multiple income streams, and even connect to accounting software Xero, which can be super convenient if you are an entrepreneur or have a side hustle.
What’s more, PocketSmith’s predictive technology will help you look as far as 30 years into the future to show you what the long-term payoff will be for building all that budgeting muscle. It also allows you to play around with “what-if” scenarios so you can see things like what would happen if you actually did leave your day job like you dream of and pursue your side hustle full time.
PocketSmith has 3 levels of subscription services. The Basic subscription is free, but does not include automatic bank feeds or transaction recording.
The Premium subscription is $9.95 per month or $90.00 per year. This option includes automatic bank feeds and transaction recording as well as 10 years’ projection. Their Super subscription includes unlimited accounts and 30 years’ projection with a fee of $19.95 per month or $170 per year.
5. Pocket Guard
For those of you that need a little extra assistance when it comes to managing your spending, Pocket Guard provides a great solution.
Pocket Guard’s features allows users to always know where their finances stand with an easy to use and simple interface. With helpful charts, you will be able to track spending, identify where you are spending too much, set spending limits and make changes as needed. It offers automatic savings so you don’t even miss the money.
Pocket Guard always has your back (pocket) and can identify where you are spending too much on services like cable and helps you negotiate better rates.
Pocket Guard has a basic free version and a premium version for $4.99 per month or $34.99 per year. With the premium version you will be able to set multiple savings goals, create a debt payoff plan, and lots of transaction data storage.
Best Apps That Save Money in Canada
So, you’ve got your budget in place, you’re seeing some solid savings, and are feeling pretty great. Now, you are ready to take it to the next level – saving money on the things you already buy.
Coupons have become a thing of the past, and now it’s all about money saving discount codes and apps that will reward you with discounts and even cash. Here are our top choices for best money saving apps.
6. Butter Rewards by RBC
Have you ever forgotten about a subscription only to remember it when you see the charge on your bank or credit card statement? We’ve all been there, and boy does it sting. The Royal Bank of Canada wants to put some Butter on that burn with its subscription tracking app.
After creating an account with Butter, you will be able to connect all of your subscription services in one spot. From there, you will be able to manage and pay for the subscriptions you want to keep and make sure you cancel the ones you don’t.
With Butter, you will also receive 1% cashback on eligible subscriptions and discount offers from their partner companies.
When you were growing up, your spend savvy parents or grandparents might have spent part of their Sunday afternoons clipping coupons for the following week’s groceries. Thank goodness we live in an age where you can benefit by saving money on coupons without having to spend all that time and effort.
With Flipp you can easily find loads of coupons from 2,000 stores you likely already make purchases at, like G&W Foods, Walmart, and Walgreens.
All you need to do to start saving is download the app and enter your zip code and you’ll have access to the weekly circular coupons without ever having to snip a thing. For even more convenience you will be able to add all of your loyalty cards to your account.
Flipp is free and has a solid 4.7 rating on both the Google Play and Apple App stores.
Getting cash back on things you regularly purchase is a great way to add to savings or other areas of your budget. Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, makes it easy to earn money on your purchases.
Rakuten earns a commission for sending customers to their partner stores, and as a benefit to you for spending there, you’ll receive part of that commission.
After downloading the Rakuten app, browser extension, or visiting the website, you’ll create an account. Each time you make a purchase, it will be recorded to your account and you’ll receive cash back.
Offers range from 1% to upwards of 30%, and some offer a cash reward. There are always other deals that pop up regularly that give you more ways to earn.
When you are ready to cash out, you can receive a Paypal deposit, Amazon gift card, or paper check. As long as your cash back balance is over $5.01, you will get a payment every 3 months.
Best Apps that Make You More Money in Canada
By now, you are a money making and saving machine and you’re looking for ways to not only save money, but also make money on what you save. By using stock trading apps to invest a bit each month, you’ll slowly but surely start seeing returns, and be making your way to a financially fit future.
Wealthsimple is great for beginners because it’s easy to use, charges zero commission and has a $0 account minimum. When you trade through Wealthsimple, you will have access to US and Canadian stocks and ETFs, as well as crypto.
Moka, formerly known as Mylo, is a great Canadian alternative to Acorns because you can use it to start earning money on your spare change.
With Moka you can automate your investments with as little as your spare change, or more. You decide, then set it and forget it! It also has a feature to help you automate debt payments as well.
Automation is a great way to make sure you stick to a budget. On top of that you will be able to get helpful advice from their financial coaches, and even earn cash back from Moka’s retail partners.
For those that want to make a change with their change, Moka has a solution for that. They will help you make contributions to your favorite charities using the spare change from your account.
Find out all about Moka’s offerings, fees, and more on our Moka App Review.
So, now that you know about the best budgeting apps and best money saving apps in Canada, you’re ready to start managing your personal finances like a pro. When you start to manage and measure your money, you’ll discover ways to keep more of it.
With the help of the best personal finance apps out there, you will also discover ways you can allocate that cash to investments that will multiply your money down the line.
The fact that you are ready to start taking charge of your finances is highly commendable. The first step to long-term wealth is tackling your personal budget. There are a number of powerful tech tools to help you along your way. Go ahead, start your budgeting journey today, and get ready to experience the benefits long into your future.
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