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Welcome to 2015! I hope that you had a wonderful holiday with friends and family and had the opportunity to relax a bit.

At this time of year, many people turn to “new year resolutions.” “Yes, this year I’m going to use that gym membership!” “I will finally write that novel in 2015!” “Hmmm. I’ve always wanted to speak French. This year, I’m gonna learn how!”

Sound familiar? At the start of the week/month/year, we all have goals. But sticking to them can be difficult. But carrying through a task or goal is not impossible! Today, I want to talk about my top 3 suggestions for personal finance apps to help you budget your money and get out of debt in 2015.

I’ve been there. Watching your debt mount. Saying, “I’ve got to make a budget. I’ll do that tomorrow.” Living paycheck to paycheck. Constantly stressing about paying back debt and being able to afford basic necessities. I don’t want ANYONE to live like this because I know that it is truly awful. In order to break down your finances and get out of debt, you need to start small. A lot of people are overwhelmed by their finances and budgeting. You might be thinking, “it will take so much time to come up with a budget”, “I don’t even know how much I spend each month”, etc. If you’re serious about improving your finances, consider getting one of these apps to help you sort through your personal finances.

  1. Mint (Free). Ah, Mint. If you’ve heard of any personal finance app before, it’s probably Mint, as this app dominates the market right now. And honestly, there’s good reason for that. Mint is a really cool app that does a lot. Mint self describes the service as a way to, “get a handle on your finances the free and fast way. Mint does all the work of organizing your spending so you can see where your money goes. Stop worrying about money so you can live your life”. Mint is a FREE app for Iphone and Android with an easy-to-use, crisp interface that allows you to see exactly where each dollar you spend goes and set budgets for yourself.

Pros:

  • Easy and safe linking of your accounts, such as your checking, savings, and credit card accounts, and even your investment and retirement funds
  • Budgeting feature that allows you to set budgets for different categories, like groceries, gas, and bills, each month
  • Alerts when you are about to go over a budget
  • Storage of your spending and earning information to give you a day-by-day, week-by-week, or month-by-month analysis of where your money is going
  • Advice on how to save money based on your spending habits

Cons:

  • Linking bank account information can take some time
  • Refreshing banking information can be difficult when there are errors with linking
  • Limited investing options
  • It’s basic – if you’re looking for really in-depth analysis and investing options, it’s probably not for you
  1. Check (Free). Check is another free app that helps you get a complete overview of your finances. However, unlike Mint, Check’s main goal is to help you pay your bills.

Pros:

  • Are you the forgetful type? You get reminders when your bills are due
  • You can pay your bills manually or schedule bill payments so you never have to stress about missing a payment
  • View all of your accounts and bills
  • Pay with a credit card or a bank account
  • Get alerts when your funds are low or when you’re getting close to your credit limit

Cons:

  • Can’t create budgets for yourself
  • A convenient way to pay your bills and make sure you don’t miss payments, but it doesn’t do much else
  1. You Need a Budget ($60). You Need a Budget (YNAB) users are focused on getting out of debt or starting out with their finances by tracking every single dollar they spend. YNAB achieves this through their 4 step method. These steps include:
  • “Give every dollar a job”: Each dollar you earn MUST be entered onto their spreadsheet in a category, so you know exactly what you are spending your money on.
  • “Save for a rainy day”: Instead of impulse-shopping when you realize you have some leftover money from your paycheck, YNAB encourages you to put it toward larger, less frequent expenses, such as vacations, car insurance, or unexpected emergencies.
  • “Roll with the punches”: Overspending happens, and YNAB embraces it. If you overspend in one section, you are encouraged to take money from other categories to cover the cost.
  • “Live on last month’s income”: YNAB’s ultimate goal is to help you save so that you don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck and instead use a money buffer to pay your bills.

Pros:

  • Proactive about budgeting and actually teaching customers how to create healthy financial plans.
  • Gives customers a philosophy to follow when it comes to finances
  • Great extra features on their website, such as a free nine-day course that teaches users how to get out of debt
  • Strong, interactive community to support all users

Cons:

  • It isn’t free – there is a $60 sign-up fee
  • Doesn’t link to your accounts so you have to enter all purchases and your income manually, which can be time consuming

Honestly, I would use ANY of these apps if you feel like you’re struggling with finances, and there are many more apps out there that achieve similar goals. So what are you waiting for? Take control of your finances TODAY!

*Disclaimer – I have not been paid to mention any of these applications.