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The Mint app has shut down as of Jan. 1, 2024. For alternatives, check out CNBC Select's ranking of the best budgeting apps.
If you've never built a budget before, the thought of tracking all of your expenses and sources of income can seem like an immense task. While the act of tracking your everyday expenses might seem tedious and hard to keep up with, there are a number of apps that make it easier for people to understand where they should save or spend.
With so many different apps on the market, it can be hard to know which one is the best fit for you. Select compared over a dozen options when rating the best budgeting apps and best expense tracker apps, and we found that the most popular ones have nearly 5 out of 5-star ratings and thousands of customer reviews.
We ranked Google Sheets as the best free spreadsheet for anyone trying to budget. Google Sheets is completely free, offers a wide variety of different templates and can be connected to third-party software to automatically import your bank transactions.
Below, we review Google Sheets to give you all the details on its features, including the tools, perks, safety, pricing, availability and ratings so you can decide if it is the right choice for managing your money.
Gmail account users can access a variety of free budgeting templates to help get started
Categorizes your expenses
Users manually input their expenses, but some budgeting templates offer preset categories
Links to accounts
No, but some templates offer third-party add-on software that automatically pulls financial transactions into Google Sheets
Offered on web browser and smartphone devices
Google server protection: Unless you've shared your Google Sheet with someone, nobody can access your files without your Gmail account username and password. For this, Google offers two-factor authentication and physical security keys like YubiKey
Google Sheets requires users to manually input all of their expenses and income. While this may be time-consuming and tedious, doing so can help you understand exactly how you're spending your money each month.
While Google Sheets can seem like a hassle because you have to manually enter information, users can benefit from a wide variety of free templates that can make tracking your spending habits much easier. Some templates even have preset categories.
There are numerous third-party budget templates you can find online with a quick search, but Google provides two options in its template section: an annual budget and a monthly budget. Both templates are comprehensive, allowing you to itemize all of your expenses and income flows into various preset categories and subcategories that you can change based on your needs. The annual budget template also provides a month-by-month summary of your income, expenses and net savings.
For users who want to simplify the budgeting process, some Sheets templates are connected with third-party software that allow you to import your financial transaction data.
Google Sheets is secure for tracking your finances because it works through Google server protection: Unless you've shared your Google Sheet with someone, nobody can access your files without your Gmail account username and password. If you're interested in making your Google account more secure, the company offers two-factor authentication and physical security keys like YubiKey.
Google Sheets is a completely free way to start budgeting — all you need is a Gmail account.
Google Sheets is offered on web browser and smartphone devices. The Google Sheets app is available in the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android).
Rating in App Store at time of writing: 4.8 out of 5 (over 900,000 ratings)
Rating on Google Play at time of writing: 4.0 out of 5 (over 100,000 ratings)
If you're new to budgeting and like the idea of manually entering your expenses and income into a spreadsheet, Google Sheets is the best free option out there.
Users have access to different template options, third-party add-on software for certain templates and the ease of accessing their spreadsheet both on their computer and their phone.
For those who want a budgeting app that easily syncs to their bank account and credit card and automatically categorizes their expenses, consider Mint. The budgeting app is also completely free and comes with a few more bells and whistles, including alerting you when you're over budget, if you've incurred ATM fees or have payments due.
To determine which free budgeting tools offer the best user experience, Select analyzed over a dozen different budgeting tools and looked at their features and user reviews.
We narrowed down our ranking by looking for at least one pick in each of the following categories: spreadsheets, desktop software and smartphone apps. We wanted variety in the ways users can build their budget, and we ranked each tool by who it is best designed for (anyone, beginners, investors or small business owners).
The five tools we selected for this ranking are all free and easy to use. For our selection, we also favored budgeting tools that have strong user reviews.
Other factors we looked at included the security features, user customization and illustrative data insight, such as graphs and reports, that are available.