Money & Budgeting

Best Budgeting Apps for College Students

Find the right budgeting app for you in this summary of the 10 best budgeting apps for college students in 2021.
Allan T
Dec 8, 2023

Best Budgeting Apps for College Students

It's no secret that college is expensive, so saving as much money as possible and staying within a tight budget is important. It's never a good feeling running out of money towards the end of the month and eating noodles and ketchup for a week. While it's been common knowledge for a long time now that students should create their own budgets while in college, it is now easier than ever by using various budgeting apps for college students. In this article, we'll talk about why it's important to make budgets in college and go over the features of some of the best budgeting apps for college students.

Why Budgeting Apps for College Students Are Essential

Learning to make a budget is a skill that will help you throughout your life, but it is especially essential when you are in college and probably low on funds. A budget allows you to have control over your money and avoid situations where you end up in financial trouble. A budget also helps you prioritize what is important in life and helps with time management and organizational skills. 

In the past, students made budgets in their notebooks, on Excel sheets, and using their bank applications, but now there are tons of good budgeting apps for college students. Each one has its distinct pros and cons. Some are completely free and most have free versions available.  Some of them have additional benefits like syncing with bank accounts and automatically keeping track of expenses and payments. Almost all of them have tight security measures, but that is definitely one of the important things to look into depending on how you want to use the budgeting app.

We've put together a list of the 10 best apps for college students about budgeting in 2021. Let's dive in!

The 10 Best Budgeting Apps for College Students


Mint is the original college student budgeting app. It's been around for a long time and one of the best things about it is that it’s completely free (though it does have some ads). Mint allows you to create your own categories for things like rent, food, textbooks, and whatever else you might need. If you connect your bank accounts to the app it automatically updates these categories with your spending and warns you if you are on track or not. It also keeps track of any bills that you need to pay and sends you alerts to remind you when to pay them. 


If you don't want to hook up your bank account to an app then Wally is a great college student budget app. This does mean that you have to manually type in your expenditures but it's worth it for your sense of security. It allows you to see your budget at a glance and make changes based on your priorities. One of its unique advantages is that it operates in almost all foreign currencies so it's a great app if you're an international student or in college in a different country making it one of the best apps for college students.


Simple is another college student budget app that syncs up with your bank account, but you should think of it more as a banking platform with budgeting features rather than the other way around. One of the best things about Simple is that it automatically sends you a warning if you are over budget and tells you to spend less on a certain category. If you make a lot of banking transactions then Simple makes it easy to have all your information in one place.

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When you connect your bank account to Chip you get several features for free including setting savings goals, spending analysis, and saving streaks. All on top of the standard budgeting app features like making your own categories and automated tracking. This is an app that's oriented more towards savings, so if you're already earning a paycheck then this might be a good option for you. It has an excellent loyalty program where if you invite friends you get an additional 1 percent interest on any savings you accumulate on the application. The one downside is that not all bank accounts can be connected to Chip so make sure yours is on the list.


PocketGuard is one of the best budgeting apps for students if you want to save as much as possible. After you link it to your bank account it automatically tracks your income as well as expenditures in different categories and makes suggestions on how to cut down on your expenses. Its “In My Pocket” feature calculates how much money you have for day-to-day expenses and warns you against any big purchases if it is out of budget. It's a lot simpler to set up and use than many other budgeting apps out there, but because of that is less customizable. 


Goodbudget is another great app if you want to avoid connecting your bank account to your budgeting application. You set up digital envelopes for categories like rent, food, alcohol, etc, and put money into each one for a month. When the money is over you can't add more till the beginning of the next month. This makes it a great app for strictly controlling your finances but because you have to input the information yourself, it works on the honor system. One of the best things about the app is that you can use it across a few devices which makes it perfect for couples with shared expenses or to keep yourself accountable by sharing the account with a friend. It also has a debt tracker feature that helps you keep track of how much debt you have remaining and what you need to do to pay it off.


If you want to take slow steps into the world of financial organization apps, then Check is a great place to start off. It focuses on tracking payments and bills so that you are never late. It connects to your bank accounts and makes sure that you make your payments on time. You can pay bills directly from the app and manage financial transactions as well making it one of the best apps for college students.  


Digit is a great app to increase your savings. Like many other apps, it syncs with your bank accounts and keeps track automatically of your expenses. It analyzes your spending and makes suggestions on how to save more and gives you a savings account where you can earn interest on your money. Any extra savings you make are automatically transferred to your savings account but you can withdraw money from that account for free at any time. Unfortunately, Digit isn't a free app, they have a 30-day trial period after which it is $5 a month. 


Dollarbird has a unique way to help you save money. After you input your regular expenses like rent, utilities, and phone bills, it automatically suggests how much money you have to spend on a day-to-day basis. Dollarbird recognizes recurring transactions and makes you aware of daily expenses that you can save on. It's one of the simpler apps to use because it makes forecasts for the future based on your income and expenses and allows you to make decisions on how you want to spend any extra money. 

You Need A Budget (YNAB)

You Need A Budget is one of the best apps for college students around. It's at the bottom of this list because we wanted to save the best for last but also because it is technically the most expensive. The monthly payment plan will cost $14.99 a month starting in December and the yearly plan will cost $98.99, but students get a year for free as long as they can prove that they are in college! YNAB  is one of the most comprehensive budgeting apps around. It uses zero-based budgeting to assign value to every dollar that you have. This forces you to think proactively about how you want to spend your money and how you want to save. It also offers advice on how to use your money more effectively and you can access hundreds of online workshops about fiscal responsibility and other money-saving tips.

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Things to Keep In Mind

Making a budget is an incredibly useful thing to do in college which is why they are some of the most essential apps for college students. Each application is different though so make sure you go over each of them to figure out which one suits your needs the best. All of the ones mentioned here have at least a free trial version so you can test them out for yourself. It may seem counterproductive to spend money on an application to help you save money but if you use the more expensive apps diligently you will definitely become more financially responsible. At the end of the day, it all depends on how you want to manage your money and how much time you have to manage your budget. College can be a crazy time with lots to do and manage. This article should help you find some of the best budgeting apps for college students. If you ever need any help with anything related to school work, the experts at Studyfy, an art essay writing service, are here to help you with everything from homework to essay editing. You can also avail of services like write my philosophy essay, term paper service, and nursing paper writers.