Attention Canadians – are you ready to crush your financial targets? Personal finance and budgeting apps can help you stay on top of your spending habits and maintain a budget that fits your lifestyle.
Gone are the days of clumsy budget spreadsheets. Budgeting apps are designed for mobile devices and their slick, usable interfaces make it simple to balance your budget from wherever you are. These are the best budgeting apps in Canada and are the best for managing your finances.
Personal Money Management Software Canada
YNAB – Best Overall Personal Finance App
When it comes to seeing the big picture of my financial universe, for me there’s no better app than You Need A Budget. It helps you set—and then stick to—a budget and monitors your spending. It does all these things by linking automatically to your financial accounts, so it can provide an accurate, real-world overview of how much money you have (or don’t have) at any given moment. If you don’t feel comfortable giving the app access to your account information automatically, you also have the option of synching your accounts manually.
YNAB also prides itself on its mission to educate the world about the importance of budgeting. To this end, it offers a wide spectrum of free tutorials on money management and I always find the email customer service responsive and eager to help. You really do get the sense that the people behind the YNAB app are sincere about teaching others the value of smart fiscal planning.
At US$83.99 a year, it’s one of the most expensive personal financial apps out there, but I feel it’s money well spent. Also, YNAB offers a free 34-day trial period, so you can decide if the app works for you before you invest in it. Available for iOS/Mac and Android/PC.
KOHO – Best App to Manage Your Money
What’s that, you say? You want to save, budget, track and earn at the same time? Preposterous. That is unless you have the KOHO app, which is linked to your chequing account and offers a rich rewards program that will earn cash back every time you spend. KOHO is loaded with features geared toward shaping up different aspects of your finances; instead of getting separate apps for budgeting, saving, and earning rewards, KOHO has it all in one place.
My favourite KOHO feature is RoundUp, which allows you to take every purchase you make and round up its cost to the nearest dollar amount of your choice, allocating the difference toward your savings. There’s also personal financial coaching, spend tracking & budgeting, and even an embarrassing (in a personal growth kind of way) comparison tool that lets you see how your spending ranks in comparison to other KOHO members. KOHO is unusual in that it doubles as not only a financial app, but also a prepaid card that you can use to make your purchases. The most comparable hybrid available in Canada is called Stack, and those who are drawn to the idea of combining a money management app with a payment card are advised to closely compare KOHO and Stack before signing up for either one.
PocketSmith – Best App for Foreign Currency
PocketSmith offers powerful features for keeping track of your money, even when it’s scattered across multiple accounts, credit cards, and institutions. It unites all of your transactions in a single dashboard so that you always feel in control of your spending. You can set up some alerts to remind you when bills are due, create budgets that notify you when you’re close to overspending, and produce attractive reports to help you understand your financial circumstances.
Unlike many personal finance apps, PocketSmith can handle foreign currencies, showing your balance in both your base currency and the original foreign currency. It tracks investments, too, showing you their value even when they are held in silver, gold, or bitcoin.
Paymi – Best App to Boost Your Purchasing Power
Paymi is a newcomer in the shopper marketing space, but it packs a powerful punch with its rewards scheme. Paymi works behind the scenes to help you earn cashback rewards with participating retailers. There is no card to swipe and no receipts to keep, it all happens automatically, all you need to do is keep spending normally.
Once your balance gets to $2.00 (although we recommend you wait until the $25.00 threshold to avoid the fee), you can redeem your rewards. Paymi will send you an Interac e-transfer for the total amount you’ve earned, and you can use that money however you’d like, no strings attached.
Paymi is also safe and has partnered with CIBC to help customers earn even more rewards when they use their CIBC debit and credit cards.
Google Pay – Best E-wallet App
Aside from YNAB, this is the financial app I use most frequently. I don’t know why—maybe because tapping a terminal with your smart phone to pay for something is still a novel experience—but I get a rush of joy whenever I use it. Essentially, Google Pay is an electronic wallet (or a ‘payment app‘). The app eliminates the need to use a traditional wallet and search through dozens of credit cards or loyalty cards to pay for something. It manages the information of all your credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards and even plane passes or event ticket information. To make a purchase, you simply open the app and then tap it as you would a credit card via tap-enabled payment terminals at merchants throughout Canada. Google Pay can be linked with most Canadian bank cards, credit cards and rewards cards.
While some people may be hesitant to use a cell phone to pay, the app (and other e-wallet apps like Apple Pay) uses a system called tokenization to hide your account and password information. Furthermore, if someone gains access to your phone, any unauthorized use of the app to make fraudulent purchases is covered by your financial provider’s zero liability provisions, just as your physical bank or credit cards are.
Google Pay is free. Apple Pay works much the same way for those with Apple phones.
RoundUp – Best Savings Starter App
Sometimes the best of intentions isn’t good enough. This is certainly true for many people when it comes to growing their savings. We all know we should be putting money aside for things like emergencies and our retirement, but it’s easy for savings to get sidetracked when there are so many other financial obligations to meet. This is where RoundUp comes in. This personal financial app was developed by Wealthsimple, a financial investment company often referred to as a robo-advisor. In line with the company’s mandate to automate financial services, RoundUp essentially makes saving money an automatic—and incremental (so you don’t feel the pain)—activity.
The app will automatically round up every purchase you make with your bank or credit card to the nearest dollar. It then takes that extra bit of change and deposits it into your Wealthsimple account. Voila! Next thing you know, you have the start of a nice little nest egg without lifting a finger. The app is free to use but you will need to have a Wealthsimple investing or Smart Savings account in which to deposit the money.
Checkout 51 – Best Money-Saving App
What if when you did your grocery shopping, the stores weren’t the only ones to cash in? This clever e-couponing app (developed by a Canadian company) gives you cash back when you buy eligible weekly grocery items. You don’t even have to worry about clipping coupons. Once you sign up it will tell you what discount promotions are available in your area. You can then download offers you’re interested in to your Checkout 51 shopping list. When you’re finished shopping you take a picture of your receipt and send it for confirmation of your eligible purchases. When your savings add up to $20, the company will send you a check.
Offers are available at major stores across the country like Walmart, No Frills, Shoppers Drug Mart, Costco and more. Promotions are updated weekly every Thursday so there’s always fresh chances to earn cash back. The app is free and available for both Android and iOS.
Never pay a late payment fee again. You may be surprised to learn that Canada Post is an app-embracing organization. Though it does represent one of humanity’s most antiquated forms of communication (I mean really, when was the last time you sent someone a letter?), it also has one of the most functional and user-friendly bill delivery apps on the market. One of the easiest ways to get caught in the debt trap is for forgotten bill payments to add up and start accumulating interest (not to mention hurt your credit score). The Epost app does away with bill bedlam by organizing all your bills and statements in one place.
It uses a secure encryption system to send you your bills and you can also link the app to your bank to pay invoices via the app. You can also set up reminders to ensure you pay amounts owed on time. The app will even store your statements from all your various mailers for up to seven years. The app is free and available for both Android and iOS.
Best personal finance software
Best budgeting app overall
Mint is one of the most popular budgeting apps and for good reason. It is free to use, something rare among the best budgeting apps, and you get financial budgeting shared by 24 million users.
The app allows you to create a personalized budget and will then monitor your spending. It studies your spending habits and advises how to increase your savings. It will also check your subscriptions to ensure that you are not paying for services you do not need. With MintSights, you can set goals to reach financial milestones and build a stronger financial foundation. Once you connect your accounts, you can easily navigate between outstanding account balances, your monthly expenses versus spending, and even access your free credit score. Mint is compatible with not just banking accounts, but also your credit cards, loans, and investments. You can even file your IRS taxes and receive your refund through the app’s integrated TurboTax services.
Whichever version you opt for, there’s a 30 day free trial available, so you can try before you buy to get an idea if BankTree will work for you.
The Money Dashboard iOS/Android app doesn’t try to reinvent the banking world or offer anything truly ground-breaking, but it is perhaps one of the most useful money management tools out there. Hook up every one of your UK bank and credit card accounts and you’ll be able to see each of your balances in a single place with a single login. That in itself is enough for us to recommend it.
But there’s more – Money Dashboard will track your spending, offering you an overall pie chart depicting your spending on loans, consumables, transport and the like. There’s an at-a-glance overall balance, showing exactly how much money you have available across all of your accounts, and you can compare this to the previous month’s figure to show how well you’ve been managing your funds. That’s a great motivator.
Made primarily for Mac users (but also out on Windows and Linux), Moneydance is a desktop money management package with a very neat single-window interface. Load it up and you’ll get an instant view of your finances, upcoming bills, recent expenses and more. Click an item in the left hand sidebar and the main content changes to reflect it.
Its reporting features are quite strong if not spectacular to look at, and one of Moneydance’s most useful sections is its account register. If you’re old-school and once managed a cheque book, this operates on a very similar principle. There’s also an iOS app for logging transactions on the go, which later syncs with the software on your desktop.
Unfortunately for UK users, Moneydance doesn’t support the connection protocols used by UK banks, so you’ll need to download your transaction history manually to keep on top of it and revert to your bank’s own app to move money around. US users, however, are well covered.
Best budgeting app with digital envelopes
Cost: There is a free version with ads, or you can upgrade to an ad-free plan for $7 per month or $60 per year.
Goodbudget is a budgeting app that helps you create and stick to a budget. There is available debt tracking to keep you motivated and on track. It also helps with money management so you know exactly where your funds are and how they are performing. You will have to subscribe to Goodbudget, but once you do, you will have wide access to the app through both the web and multiple phones. This means that it is easy to share your account with others, like a spouse or family member. It helps you stay connected financially even if you are physically apart, helping to prevent miscommunications and financial mishaps. All transactions are synced to the cloud so you never have to worry about certain financial transactions going missing. Review pie charts and reports to track your spending, with generated reports to show your finances in greater detail. Digital envelopes help you categorize your finances into available funds with each envelope assigned to certain expenses. It is a visual way to improve your finances through the help of virtual tools.
Best budgeting app for investors
Cost: Personal Capital is free to use.
More than 2.8 million people utilize Personal Capital, and it is a portfolio tracker specifically designed to help with your investments, offering a unique digital approach to your personal finance. The app works with several different types of accounts, including your normal banking accounts, as well as investments, stocks, and retirement funds. The exclusive Retirement Planner tool helps you view your 401K, IRAs, and also your debt so you can have a complete, well-rounded portrait of your finances at the click of a button. The Cash Flow graph stacks your income versus your expenses for an overall financial snapshot that is easy to understand, plus there is an Investment Checkup tool that checks your investments, looking for ways to minimize risk while maximizing rewards. The Retirement Planner is an excellent option when you want to create and manage your retirement. You also have the option to join Personal Capital as an investment client so you can receive direct support from its financial advisors.
Best budgeting app for overspenders
Cost: There are three subscription plans, in addition to a basic plan with limited features for free.
|Type of plan||Cost|
|Lifetime One-Time Purchase||$79.99|
PocketGuard takes a different approach to budgeting, utilizing smart algorithms to manage and track your spending. It also monitors your bills, helping to ensure that you do not miss a payment and risk falling further into debt. There is a bill tracker and organizer available as soon as you link your bank accounts. Any subscriptions you have will be automatically flagged and built into your monthly budget. With the IN MY POCKET feature, the app will automatically calculate your monthly expenses and then advise you on what is left over to spend. It also can help you negotiate better interest rates on your existing accounts, helping you save those extra dollars. It is easy to identify what disposable income you have to spend when the app does all the calculating and reporting for you. You do not have to pay to use PocketGuard, although you will need to subscribe if you want to access all of the best features.
BankTree is more than happy to support worldwide currencies, and in fact does a solid job if you’re working simultaneously with more than one, offering balances in multiple currencies rather than rounding them off into a single total. It’s also good for keeping track of everything, allowing you to scan receipts with its mobile app and import them later on.
It’s not the prettiest software around, and it’s slightly more awkward to use than many of its more refined cousins, although BankTree does produce very neat reports which you can break down by time, or by payee. It may be worth experimenting with the free trial before you choose to invest in this one.
The desktop software comes with one year of updates and support, though you are restricted to one PC and there is a charge for any additional PC you want to run the software on. There’s also a browser-based version available.
Budgeting software free
Managing your money successfully includes keeping a close eye on your expenses. One way to do that is to take advantage of free software and services. Free personal finance software can be surprisingly robust, helping you track spending, create and manage budgets, and run reports.
Mint is a free online budget planner from Intuit, the makers of TurboTax and Quickbooks. This app brings all of your financial data together, showing you an overview of your budget, spending, bills, and credit score. You can create your own budget, set goals and reminders, and sync your data between web and apps. Security is enhanced by encryption and multi-factor authentication. You can also use Mint to track your investments and portfolio.
Access Mint via the web or phone apps for iOS and Android.
GnuCash is desktop software; its features include tracking bank accounts, stocks, income, and expenses. GnuCash is based on double-entry accounting for balanced books and you can run a number of reports to see your financial data. GnuCash also offers small-business accounting tools that let you manage customers and vendors, handle invoicing and bill payment, and even payroll.
GnuCash is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, BSD, and Solaris. There is a companion app for Android that will let you track expenses on the go and later import them into the desktop software.
AceMoney Lite bills itself as the best Quicken alternative. You can manage your budgets, track your finances in multiple currencies, keep an eye on your investments and analyze your spending habits. You can also do online banking. As this is the lite version, you’re limited to two accounts; the full version supports unlimited accounts.
AceMoney Lite is compatible with Windows and Mac OS X.
Personal Capital offers free financial software for tracking investments and planning for retirement, in addition to its tools for cash flow, spending, budgeting and net worth. Personal Capital’s focus is on investments, showing you the performance of your portfolio over time and helping you make decisions for the future, so its budgeting components aren’t as robust as other software.
If you’re not an investor or prefer fine-tuning your budget to getting the broad view, Personal Capital may not be the best fit. However, if you want to save for college or retirement, its free tools will show you whether you’re on track.
Personal Capital can be accessed via the web or apps for Android and iOS.
Buddi is an open-source budget software that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems and has been translated into multiple languages. Buddi can encrypt financial data with a password, and it’s designed to be easy to use even if you have no financial background.
Features include budgeting, tracking accounts, and personal finance reports, but you will have to enter transactions manually. Free plugins add more features, and the online user manual is easy to read and use.
Buddi is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Free Budget Spreadsheets
If you don’t need fully featured personal financial software and you’re just concerned about keeping a budget, there are some great free budget spreadsheet templates you can use with Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Calc or Google Sheets. Just download and open them in your spreadsheet software to get a handle on your cash flow.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best way to track personal finances?
Apps and budgeting software make it easy to categorize your spending so you can see when and where your money is going—at a glance. Knowing these patterns is the first step toward changing your behavior to start saving more.
Is personal finance software safe?
Go with trusted brands, and you can expect the same types of firewalls and encryption that you’d expect from a banking website. It’s often the human who does something risky rather than a flaw in the software.
Personal finance apps can often be synced to your financial institutions, allowing you to safely and securely monitor your personal bank accounts, investments, and credits card profiles. Some of the apps even allow you to link to family member’s accounts to help you to keep household expenses in check and make shared bill payments quickly and easily.