personal finance

It’s Time to Try a New Budgeting App

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Getty Images

In less than two weeks, the budgeting app Mint — which once had 3.6 million active users, including me — will shut down forever. According to its parent company, Intuit, Mint wasn’t making enough money, so Intuit began the app’s closure in January. On March 23, Mint users will no longer be able to access their account data, which could include over a decade of their spending and financial history. (If you try to log in to Mint right now, you are prompted to move your account to Credit Karma, a different app owned by Intuit that has fewer budgeting features and more emphasis on credit scores.)

Whether you were a Mint superfan or more of a casual, aspiring budgeter, this is a good time to take stock of what you want to do next (or, at the very least, download that Mint data for some potential future use, which you can do here). There are now tons of other budgeting apps to choose from, many of which are set up to accept your old Mint account information if you want to plop it in. And even if you don’t — or never used Mint in the first place — it’s never a bad time to see what budgeting apps can do for you.

Before you choose one to try, though, think about what you hope to get out of it. Do you want to set and track savings goals? Or do you want an app that helps you track spending so you can stay on budget? Alternatively, you may want features that help you split expenses with a partner, pay down debt, increase your investments, or just get a better idea of where the hell your paycheck goes every month. Here’s a rundown of the main players in the budgeting-app space, and which one might be right for you.

Rocket Money

Good for: Those who want a straightforward snapshot of where their money is going, and to cut unnecessary spending. Also, it’s free.

What it is: Like most budgeting apps, Rocket Money allows you to create expense categories, set savings targets, and see all your accounts (including investments) in one place. It also allows you to add other people — like partners or spouses — to the same account, so it’s good for those who want to share finances and work toward shared goals. Perhaps best of all — and what sets Rocket Money apart from its competitors — is that it has a separate screen for recurring expenses like monthly bills and subscriptions you forgot you had (so many Substacks). Not only does the app help ferret out these “gray charges” — recurring payments that slip under your radar — but it even has a feature that cancels them for you.

What people say about it: If you liked Mint, you’ll probably like Rocket Money. “I used Mint for over a decade, and the premium version of Rocket Money has the same features I want,” says Beverly Harzog, a consumer-finance analyst and author of The Debt Escape Plan. “This app lets me set goals for categories, and I get alerts to help me stay on track.” A friend of mine called it “a joy to use and very easy,” which is saying a lot for a budgeting app. He added that it seems to be more intuitive about categorizing expenses, which is a common complaint for budgeting apps. (I almost threw my phone out the window when Mint categorized my son’s diapers as “self-care.”)

Cost: Free.

Easy to import Mint data? Yes, via the “import” tool. You just need to do it on a desktop computer rather than your phone.


Good for: Those who want to overhaul their budget from the ground up and are willing to put in some elbow grease.

What it is: YNAB stands for “You Need a Budget,” and it isn’t just an app — it’s a whole method (there’s a book with the same title, by founder Jesse Mecham) that involves “giving every dollar a job.” This requires you to be proactive about where you want your money to go before you spend it, breaking it into different expense categories — little buckets, basically — that you have to fund each month. This is also known as zero-based budgeting, and it’s meant to give you a hyper-clear, easy-to-follow road map of where you want your money to go. What’s more, it only allows you to allocate money that you already have. If you overspend in one category, it turns red (oops), and the app prompts you to adjust the others to make up for it.

What people say about it: Many people might be overwhelmed by YNAB’s hands-on approach and find it hard to stick to. But those who are willing to put in the time — probably around ten minutes a day, at first — have described it as life changing. I’ve been obsessed for about six years. I even own swag,” said one 39-year-old marketing director for a nonprofit who credits YNAB with helping her get out of debt. “It is so much more practical and easy to use than other apps that only track what you’ve spent after you spend it.” It has also helped her stay on top of her credit-card bills, which used to be a struggle. But best of all, it’s given her a sense of control. “It’s helped with my mental health and anxiety around finances. I’m an evangelist.”

Cost: $99 a year, or $14.99 a month; free for the first 30 days.

Easy to import Mint data? Yes. There’s even a special “migrate from Mint” option.

Monarch Money

Best for: People who want to automate their finances — and want a pretty interface.

What it is: Similar to YNAB, Monarch offers a zero-based budgeting model (you can “fund” your expense category in advance and then spend them down), but it requires a lot less work up front. It also puts an emphasis on financial goals, prompting you to set one when you sign up — like paying off a loan, saving up an emergency fund, or paying for a vacation — along with a target date. The app will then create a special bucket just for that goal, determine your monthly contributions, and put it on the home screen so you’re reminded of your progress whenever you log in. What’s more, Monarch offers a lot of automation features, so you can set up recurring transfers into savings and investment accounts and never think about them again. Plus, you can add additional people to the account, which is good for couples and families.

What people say about it: Monarch is consistently highly rated by users with a lot of financial balls in the air, including multiple credit cards, a 401(k), IRA, loans, etc., and minimal bandwidth to deal with them. It also looks nice. Multiple users I spoke to — even those who I wouldn’t consider “emoji people” — said that they liked the app’s use of emojis to show different spending categories. “It’s visually appealing and also easier to follow at a glance,” said one person who’s been using it for about a year. “Also, it’s cute.”

Cost: $14.99 a month or $99.99 a year

Easy to import Mint data? Yes. Here’s a video.


Best for: People who want to manage their investing along with their budget.

What it is: Formerly known as Personal Capital, Empower allows you to manage your investment accounts along with your spending and budgeting. So if you want a soup-to-nuts app that allows you to be hands on with your investments and your day-to-day spending, this is the one for you. Empower also offers wealth-management services, which can help advise on your portfolio, for additional fees.

What people say about it: Farnoosh Torabi, the best-selling author and host of the podcast So Money, says that she uses the free version of Empower and finds it useful for attaching all your accounts to one dashboard. While the app is doing a lot — more than most others — it may not do everything as well as competitors with a more specific focus.

Cost: Free for the basic version; additional fees for portfolio management.

Easy to import Mint data? No. The app doesn’t allow you to upload your Mint data.


Best for: Couples who want to split finances fairly but don’t want to pool everything.

What it is: Honeydue functions like a hybrid of other budgeting apps and Venmo. Rather than sending each other passive-aggressive requests to settle up, couples can see who owes what, color coded nicely in one place. It also features a special page where couples can enter specific bills, note which partner should get reminders about paying them, and when they’re due (this can be viewed in list or calendar form). While other money apps enable multiple people to share accounts, this is the only one that’s specifically geared toward couples who want to tailor their own system to their relationship. It also allows individuals to be as transparent as they want (or not), which allows flexibility for people at various levels of commitment.

What people say about it: “This app has made cohabitation with my boyfriend MUCH easier, and helped smooth over many conversations about who should pay for what,” said one friend who works in finance and makes significantly more money than her musician partner. “In the past, it’s been really hard to split expenses, especially since I’ve usually been the one who made more. But Honeydue gave us a framework to build on.” The cons: It doesn’t offer quite the same level of budgeting functionality that, say, Monarch or YNAB does, or provide the same spending insights.

Cost: Free — so, one less expense you have to share.

Easy to import Mint data: Not really. You will probably have to enter most transactions manually rather than uploading them.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated some of Empower’s features.

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It’s Time to Try a New Budgeting App