Top 8 Budgeting Apps for College Students to Manage Money (Free + Paid)

As a college student, managing money can be challenging, right? Managing tuition fees, living expenses, social activities, and occasional treats requires smart budgeting.

If you are a college student with money strains looking for smart budgeting apps, you are at the right place. In this blog post, we will explore the top eight budgeting apps for college students that help you take control of your finances. So keep reading!

Top Eight Budgeting Apps for College Students to Track Spending

Here is a list of the top 8 budgeting apps for college students to track their spending and manage their money well. All the below-listed apps offer a free version. You can use them for free, although they offer paid versions for advanced features.

1. YNAB (You Need A Budget)

Why it’s great for college students: YNAB (you need a budget) focuses on giving every dollar a job. It is ideal for college students with irregular income or varying expenses.

It has a proactive approach that encourages planning and adjusting budgets regularly.

Its goal-setting features are perfect for saving up for textbooks or planning a trip with colleagues during breaks.


  • Proactive Budgeting: YNAB has a proactive approach to budgeting. This helps you plan and prioritize your spending effectively.
  • Goal-Oriented: This app allows you to set and track your financial goals. It is useful for college students to save for specific expenses like textbooks, tuition fees, travel, or emergencies.
  • Real-time Syncing: With automatic syncing across devices, you can access your budgets and financial data in real-time, ensuring updated information is always available.
  • Educational Resources: YNAB offers educational resources and tutorials that help you understand budgeting principles and improve financial literacy. It can be beneficial for students who are new to managing finances independently.
  • Customer Support: The platform provides responsive customer support, offering assistance and guidance to users navigating the app’s features or facing issues.


  • Subscription Cost: While YNAB offers a free trial, it operates on a subscription model, requiring a monthly or annual fee after the trial period ends. This might be a drawback for students on a tight budget.
  • Complex User Interface: The user interface of YNAB will be complex, especially for those who are new to detailed budgeting practices.
  • Limited Integration: Integration with financial institutions might be limited in some cases.
  • No Forecasting Feature: Unlike other budgeting apps, YNAB lacks a forecasting feature.

2. GoodBudget

Why it’s suited for college life: GoodBudget operates on the envelope system, which is fantastic for visual learners or those who prefer a tangible budget representation.

GoodBudget’s envelope system and shared budget features make it a valuable tool for college students managing their finances. College students can use it for splitting expenses like room rent, groceries or group projects among roommates.


  • Envelope Budgeting System: GoodBudget utilizes the envelope system that allows you to allocate funds to specific categories, making budgeting visual and easy to track.
  • Shared Budgets: It is ideal for college students to share expenses with roommates or friends. GoodBudget facilitates shared budgets, enabling seamless management of group expenses.
  • Expense Tracking: This app provides detailed expense tracking, aiding users in understanding their spending habits and making adjustments accordingly.
  • Free Version Availability: GoodBudget offers a free version with basic features, making it accessible to students on a budget.
  • Sync Across Devices: You can sync your budgets across multiple devices, ensuring access to up-to-date financial information from anywhere.


  • Free Version Limitations: While the free version is available, it might have limitations compared to the paid version, restricting access to advanced features.
  • Learning Curve: The envelope budgeting system might take time for new users to grasp and effectively implement.
  • Interface Design: The app’s interface might feel slightly outdated or less intuitive compared to some modern budgeting applications.

3- Student Budget Planner

This is one of the best budgeting apps for college students. It is a reliable guide tailored to address students’ unique challenges in handling expenses, tuition fees, and social spending.

With intuitive features for personalized budgeting, goal setting, and expense tracking, it empowers you to take control of your finances. This app is specially designed for college students to manage their day-to-day expenses efficiently.


  • Student-Centric Features: This app understands the unique financial challenges students face, offering features to manage tuition fees, books, housing, and other college-related expenses.
  • Customizable Budget Categories: It allows users to create personalized budget categories, making it easier to track and manage various expenses such as dining, transportation, or entertainment.
  • Goal-Setting Feature: Students can set financial goals, whether saving for a spring break trip or paying off a student loan. This app helps track progress towards these goals.
  • Expense Tracking and Notifications: It provides easy-to-use expense tracking tools and notifications, ensuring students stay aware of their spending habits.
  • Sharing Features: This app offers features that facilitate splitting expenses with roommates or friends, making it convenient for students living in shared accommodations.
  • Student Discounts and Offers: Some versions of this app may partner with student discount programs, offering exclusive deals or discounts on products and services relevant to students.


  • User Interface and Design: Unlike other modern budgeting apps, it does not have a visually appealing interface.
  • Compatibility and Updates: This app may face compatibility issues with older devices or might not receive frequent updates, potentially causing stability or performance concerns.
  • Limited Community Support: This app lacks extensive customer support or an active user community, limiting resources for troubleshooting or seeking advice.

4- Emma App

Emma is another of the best budgeting apps for college students seeking financial empowerment and stability.

With its user-friendly interface and student-centric functionalities, Emma helps students manage their money efficiently. This comprehensive financial assistant app enables students to track their expenses, set personalized budgets, and gain insights into their spending habits.

Emma’s intuitive design simplifies the process of categorizing expenses, giving students a clear overview of where their money goes.

Additionally, its ability to link various accounts and credit cards in one place streamlines financial management, making it a valuable asset for budget-conscious students.


  • Simplified Expense Tracking: It gives students a clear picture of their financial habits to track their spending across various categories.
  • Budget Customization: This app allows for personalized budgeting, enabling students to set spending limits in different areas based on their priorities.
  • Account Integration: Emma consolidates multiple accounts and credit cards into one platform, simplifying student financial oversight.
  • Insightful Analytics: This app offers detailed analytics and insights into spending patterns, empowering students to make informed financial decisions.


  • Limitations: Its free version has limited features. For advanced features, you have to go for the premium version.
  • Complex User Interface: Unlike other modern budgeting apps, this app has a complex user interface.
  • Weak Customer Support: Emma has weak customer support.

Despite these limitations, Emma remains a powerful tool for students looking to gain better control over their finances, offering a robust platform to manage money effectively during their college journey.

5- EveryDollar

EveryDollar is very simple but perfect for college students. It was developed by financial expert Dave Ramsey. It is straightforward and follows a zero-based budgeting approach.

EveryDollar is excellent for beginners and helps students create a comprehensive budget while tracking spending effortlessly.


  • Zero-Based Budgeting: EveryDollar follows the zero-based budgeting approach, ensuring every dollar has a designated purpose fostering mindful spending.
  • User-Friendly Interface: It has a very simple and user-friendly interface, which is helpful for beginners.
  • Seamless Expense Tracking: It allows for seamless expense tracking, enabling users to monitor spending habits and adjust accordingly.
  • Goal Setting Feature: EveryDollar facilitates goal setting, helping students set financial targets and work towards them.
  • Full-Free Version: The basic version of EveryDollar is free, providing essential budgeting tools without requiring a subscription.


  • No Automatic Bank Syncing: Unlike other budgeting apps, EveryDollar lacks automatic syncing with bank accounts in the free version.
  • Lack of Forecasting: EveryDollar does not offer forecasting features. It is less suitable for students seeking long-term financial planning capabilities.

6- PocketGuard

PocketGuard excels at tracking expenses and suggesting savings opportunities. Its simplicity and real-time monitoring make it perfect for busy students juggling classes, part-time jobs, and extracurricular activities.


  • Best Expense Tracker: PocketGuard excels at tracking expenses, giving users a real-time overview of their spending habits.
  • Budget Monitoring: It offers insights into budgets and helps you stay within your financial limits by categorizing expenses and monitoring trends.
  • Savings Opportunities: This app suggests saving money based on spending patterns and financial goals, helping you to make informed decisions.
  • User-Friendly Interface: PocketGuard has a very simple and user-friendly design.
  • Mobile Accessibility: With its mobile app, PocketGuard ensures accessibility, allowing students to manage their budgets anywhere.


  • Limited Free Features: Its free version has limited features. For advanced features, you have to go for the premium version.
  • Limited Integration: It is not integrated with all financial institutions, which leads to occasional difficulties syncing transactions or accounts.
  • Lack of Customization: It lacks more customization options, especially for budget categories or spending alerts.

7- Spending Tracker

Straightforward expense management: Sometimes, simplicity is key. Spending Tracker’s straightforward interface makes it an accessible choice for students who want to monitor their spending without getting overwhelmed by complex features.


  • Simplicity: Spending Tracker’s straightforward interface makes it easy for users, including college students, to track their expenses without overwhelming features.
  • Expense Tracking: This app tracks daily expenses. It provides a clear breakdown of spending by category and helps users understand their financial habits.
  • Customizable Categories: You can customise expense categories that allow personalized tracking based on your spending patterns.
  • Budget Monitoring: It helps users set spending limits for different categories, helping in budget management and controlling expenses.
  • Free Version: Spending Tracker offers essential expense tracking features for free, making it accessible to students on a budget.


  • Lacks Advanced Features: Compared to other budgeting apps, Spending Tracker lacks advanced features such as goal setting, forecasting, or syncing with bank accounts.
  • Design and Interface: Unlike other modern budgeting apps, Spending Tracker has an interface that is not modern or visually appealing.
  • Syncing Across Devices: It has limited syncing options across multiple devices.

8- Splitwise

Splitwise is the best budgeting tool for college students to manage expenses. It is not a traditional budgeting app. However, it is indispensable for college students to share costs.

It simplifies managing shared expenses among friends or roommates, eliminating the hassle of who owes what.

Splitwise is a valuable tool for managing shared expenses and simplifying group finances.

However, its focus on shared expenses rather than individual budgeting might limit its use for college students seeking comprehensive personal financial management tools.


  • Expense Sharing: Splitwise simplifies splitting expenses among friends or roommates, making it easy to track and settle debts for shared expenses.
  • Group Expense Management: It excels at managing group expenses, allowing users to split bills and track and reconcile shared costs effortlessly.
  • Simplifies Transactions: This app streamlines transactions among multiple users, reducing the complexity of managing shared finances.
  • Real-Time Balances: Users can see real-time balances and track who owes what within the group, fostering transparency and clarity in shared expenses.
  • User-Friendly: Splitwise provides a user-friendly interface and accessibility across devices, enabling easy management of shared finances.


  • Not for Individual Budgets: It’s designed for shared expenses among groups, so it might not be suitable for managing personal budgets or individual spending.
  • Manual Entries: Users must manually enter expenses and transactions, which might be less convenient for those seeking automated syncing with bank accounts.
  • Less Integrated: Splitwise doesn’t integrate with bank accounts or financial institutions for automatic transaction syncing.

Final Thoughts

These budgeting apps for college students can be your financial best friends. Whether tracking your expenses, splitting bills, or creating a budget from scratch, these budgeting apps offer diverse features to cater to different needs and preferences.

By having these tools, you can better understand your spending habits, save money effortlessly, and stay on track with your financial goals throughout your college journey.

Try them and see which suits your lifestyle and financial needs the best! Remember, managing money in college is a skill that will serve you well beyond graduation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best free budgeting apps for college students?

Some of the top free budgeting apps for college students include PocketGuard, Studen Budget Planner, Emma, YNAB, and Goodbudget. These apps offer basic budgeting tools, expense tracking, and helpful insights without any cost.

Are there any budgeting apps specifically designed for students to manage expenses?

Yes, there are apps like Emma and Student Budget Planner that cater specifically to students’ financial needs. They often include features tailored to manage expenses related to tuition, books, and part-time jobs.

What features should I look for in a budgeting app for college students?

Look for apps with features such as customizable budget categories, expense tracking, bill reminders, goal setting, and accessibility across various devices for ease of use.

Are there budgeting apps that offer discounts or special deals for students?

Some budgeting apps partner with student discount programmes or offer special deals to students on subscriptions or services. For instance, Student Beans might collaborate with certain budgeting apps to provide exclusive offers.

Can budgeting apps help with student loans and managing educational expenses?

Yes. Many budgeting apps allow users to track student loan payments, manage educational expenses, and set goals for paying off loans or saving for educational costs.

What are the pros and cons of using free versus paid budgeting apps for college students?

Free apps offer basic features but may have limitations, while paid apps often provide advanced functionalities, personalized support, and ad-free experiences.

Do budgeting apps sync across multiple devices for convenience?

Yes, most budgeting apps sync across multiple devices, enabling users to access their financial information seamlessly from smartphones, tablets, or computers.

Are there budgeting apps that allow for easy sharing of expenses among roommates or friends?

Yes, apps like Splitwise or Settle Up are designed to facilitate easy splitting and tracking of expenses among groups, which can be particularly useful for college roommates or friends.

How secure are budgeting apps in terms of protecting personal financial information?

Reputable budgeting apps use encryption and security measures to protect users’ financial data. Ensure you choose apps with strong security protocols and positive user reviews regarding data protection.

Which budgeting apps offer the best educational resources or tutorials for students to learn financial management?

Apps like YNAB (You Need A Budget) and PocketGuard often provide extensive educational resources, tutorials, and blogs to help students learn about budgeting and financial management strategies.

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