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Managing your finances can be a daunting task — especially as you get older and your situation becomes more complex.
Even so, personal finance management doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It also doesn’t have to be something you spend a fortune on by hiring a personal accountant.
In fact, there are a variety of awesome mobile apps within reach that make it easy to track your income, create budgets, and reduce your monthly expenses.
What is Simplifi?
Simplifi comes from parent company Quicken, which is a leading financial management software provider with about three decades of experience. Simplifi is one of Quicken’s latest innovations — and, from where I stand, it doesn’t disappoint.
In short, Simplifi is an app that you can use to stay on top of money and reach your financial goals. It works with iOS, Android, and any web browser, and all features are available over the web and its mobile apps.
Here’s a breakdown of what the Simplifi app offers.
Chances are you have many accounts — including loans, checking accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, and savings accounts. Without a single management app, it can be tough to stay on top of each one and monitor them with any sense of urgency.
Simplifi solves this problem by bringing all of your accounts together into a single mobile dashboard. With Simplifi, you can view all your accounts in one place and check your balances and transactions in just a few clicks.
In other words, you don’t have to manually log into different accounts for quick updates. In this light, Simplifi saves time and eliminates hassle.
One of the top reasons people fall behind in their budgeting goals is because the process is time-consuming and stressful. After all, many people don’t like the feeling of limiting spending on takeout food or entertainment and find that keeping a budget makes them feel guilty about everyday purchases.
Simplifi takes a different approach to budgeting with custom watchlists. Simply put, a watchlist is a way to track monthly spending across different categories without watching every penny. It’s a more relaxed approach to budgeting — one that can be just as effective as the traditional approach of going transaction by transaction.
Simplifi lets you set up as many watchlists as you want, so you don’t have to worry about being limited.
Bill and income tracker
One of the tricks to personal finance management is to track your daily cash flows. If you always know what’s in your account and when upcoming bills are due, you can adjust your spending accordingly.
Simplifi provides an intuitive bill and income tracker which lets you view all upcoming transactions in a single place. Plus, you can even tell Simplifi to send notifications about current and upcoming transactions — including weekly bills, recurring bills, and paycheck arrivals.
In addition, Simplifi tells you what you have available to spend based on your upcoming bills. So, if you’re out for a night on the town with friends, you can rest easy and have another extra craft brew won’t leave you incapable of paying your rent or utility bills on time.
Another nice feature that Simplifi offers is credit card account tracking. The app can track credit patterns and give you the insights you need to minimize unnecessary credit charges and pay down balances.
If you need a bit more oversight with daily spending, Simplifi’s automated spending plan can help.
To get started, simply connect your accounts to Simplifi, and the app will analyze your upcoming expenses and tell you exactly how much you can spend across different spending categories. This takes all the pressure out of paying for items and managing your finances.
Setting money aside for growth isn’t easy when you’re putting food on the table, paying for your kids’ field trips and sporting events, and filling up your gas tank. But with Simplifi, saving is a lot easier. You can create new savings goals in the app, and Simplifi will tell you exactly how much you need to set aside each month to reach your target.
For example, you might want to park $2,000 in an emergency car fund. In this scenario, the app will create a custom budget and remind you to put away $166 each month. By the end of the year, you’ll have $2,000 in savings.
In addition to monitoring your daily spending, it’s a good idea to track your financial habits over time.
Simplifi contains a special reports tab that you can customize and filter to track your progress and see how you’re doing over time. For example, you might want to track food spending over three months. You also might want to assess annual transportation costs and see where you can cut down.
Simplifi offers spending, income, net worth, and savings reports along with monthly summaries. The app also offers a handy shopping refund tracker, which you can use to keep track of transactions when sending items back to the store.
Add it all up, and this app packs a real punch. Now that you have a good idea of what Simplifi is all about, let’s take a closer look at Mint to see how the two apps stack up.
What is Mint?
At a very high level, Mint is quite similar to Simplifi. The platform brings together many different pieces of financial data — including spending, balances, and budgets — into a single, user-friendly app.
If you’re looking to consolidate your accounts into a single mobile dashboard, Mint is a great option. And like Simplifi, Mint is backed by a parent company with deep roots; Intuit launched all the way back in 1983 and remains a leading provider of financial management software today.
Here’s an overview of the features you can access through the Mint app.
Bill pay tracker
Just like Simplifi, Mint offers a bill payment tracker that sends you notifications before payments are due. The app will also let you know when prices increase. It also detects fees so you can see exactly what you’re paying.
Mint consolidates all of your bills into one location, including credit card bills, utilities, and even offline payments. In addition, Mint can also identify subscriptions that you’re paying for so that you don’t lose track of them — something that’s easy to do in the age of streaming media.
With Mint, you can create custom budgets and receive notifications before you go over your spending limits. This way, you can feel confident about daily spending and avoid worrying about how much money is left in your bank accounts.
Mint also identifies opportunities for budget improvements. For example, the app provides recommendations to help cut spending or put more wiggle room in your budget.
Free credit reporting
I’m willing to bet that your credit score probably isn’t on the top of your mind most of the time. You probably only think about your credit score when making big-ticket purchases — like a car or a house.
Many people fall into this trap and are unhappy when their credit score isn’t where they think it should be. Mint solves this problem with free credit reporting, which enables you to always see your credit score and understand what it means.
To get started, all you have to do is verify your identity, and Mint will provide a free credit report summary in just a few minutes, along with a complete breakdown of influencing factors.
Mint uses the VantageScore model and measures credit on a scale from 300 to 850. This model formulates your credit score based on payment history, types of credit, age, credit utilization, total balances and debt, recent credit inquiries, and available credit.
The best report you can get with the VantageScore model is Grade A (781-850). The worst you can get is Grade F (600 or below).
Mint is really good about providing alerts so that you never miss important updates or payment deadlines.
Some of the alerts include information about ATM fees, when you’re exceeding your budgets, unusual spending, and bill reminders.
Mint lets you track spending across different categories — which makes it easy to monitor your cash flows across all accounts. You can add tags to customize categories and even separate purchases from a single transaction into different areas for further granularity.
Tracking investment accounts
Not all apps let you track investments. But this is something you can do with Mint, and it’s a very powerful feature.
With Mint, you can keep close tabs on your brokerage and retirement accounts and even catch hidden fees. By using this tool, you can merge investments with personal finances — giving you a bird’s-eye view of all of your money.
Mint Salary (beta)
Mint currently has a salary tool that’s still in beta mode. With this tool, you can compare your salary to hundreds of others who have the same career as you. For example, if you’re a pharmacist, you can see if you’re receiving adequate compensation compared to others in your field.
Using this information, you can confidently approach your employer when asking for a raise. And if you don’t like what you hear, you can look elsewhere to find opportunities with better pay.
I love this feature because — at the end of the day — your paycheck is your most important asset. If you maximize your income, everything else becomes a lot easier — like paying your bills and putting money away for retirement.
Comparing Simplifi vs. Mint
Simplifi currently offers a free trial where you can get the first 30 days for free. After that, the plan costs either $35.99 per year or $3.99 per month.
Mint is the clear winner in terms of cost, as the service won’t set you back a single dollar. You can download the app and sign up without having to pay a dime.
When it comes to budgeting or personal finance management apps, I always prefer freemium products. It’s hard to justify spending anything on a solution that is designed to help you save money.
That said, Simplifi is also a pretty great app with some handy features — so you may find it beneficial to fork over the monthly or annual fee, which shouldn’t break the bank.
My advice is to try the app for 30 days. You can always cancel if you don’t want to spend the money.
On one hand, I like that Mint is free. But I also like Simplifi’s creative approach to budgeting, which is why I think the app has a slight edge.
Simplifi’s watchlists remove all the headaches from budgeting. If you use them appropriately, you can budget without the hassle of having to continuously monitor your expenses. It requires a bit of getting used to. But once you get the hang of it, the process is super easy.
So kudos to Simplifi for this innovative technique! I highly recommend it.
Of course, you really can’t go wrong with Mint’s budgeting tool, either. Both options are excellent for keeping track of your expenses and living within your means.
This is another category where Mint beats Simplifi. This is because Mint offers investment tracking and Simplifi doesn’t.
So if you’re actively trading in the stock market and want to see your investments alongside your daily finances, you should use Mint.
This is especially important if you’re using a taxable brokerage account and intend on using the money to fund something like a kitchen remodel or real estate purchase. With Mint, you can get a better picture of your overall financial situation while factoring in investments.
I’m a big fan of Mint’s easy credit reporting feature. However, I also like Simplifi’s comprehensive reporting tab. If you’re the type who likes to compile reports and financial progress over time, you’ll have a ball digging through Simplifi’s powerful reporting features.
Gig workers in particular will love income reports, which are very useful for tracking how the money you bring in changes every month. If you’re working multiple jobs with varying income levels, you can use this feature to track things like seasonal trends and side hustle income.
Mobile user experience
Since Simplifi is a paid app, you would expect the performance to be superior to Mint. Depending on who you ask, you’d be wrong.
What’s interesting is Mint has stronger reviews in Google Play and the App Store. Simplifi has 3.5 stars in Google Play and 4.1 stars in the App Store. While these ratings are nothing to scoff at, Mint has 4.4 stars in Google Play and a whopping 4.8 stars in the App Store.
Overall, Simplifi is still pretty solid. But some users complain the app is buggy and difficult to navigate. That’s not to say Mint is perfect. But it does seem there’s consensus that it’s easier to use.
Both apps are highly secure and use encryption to protect financial data. However, Mint offers a few extra security enhancements.
For example, Mint tracks your active devices and uses multi-factor authentication to verify your identity. You can also set up a four-digit code to protect your account for extra security. Plus, the company participates in security scanning with VeriSign to ensure security during sensitive data transfers.
Which is better: Mint or Simplifi?
As you can see, these two apps have some similarities. But they also have some big differences — making it impossible to say whether one is better than the other.
In truth, both apps are great options. My advice is to spend time using each one and see which you like better.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which service you use — as long as you are using something to centralize your accounts, manage your finances, and supercharge your financial situation.
In my opinion, if you’re struggling with money, you should absolutely be using your smartphone to keep track of your daily finances.
Other best budgeting apps to consider
There are many apps out there for managing your personal finances in addition to Simplifi and Mint. Here are a few alternative options you might want to explore.
Best personal finance tool: Personal Capital
Personal Capital is another app that you can use to get a complete picture of your finances from a single app. The app provides free financial management tools and a premium wealth management option, giving you control over your cash situation.
Best mobile app: EveryDollar
EveryDollar has a free version specifically for budgeting. You can also subscribe to the app’s deluxe plan, Ramsey Plus, and get some extra features like Financial Peace University, on-demand courses, exclusive livestream events, a savings and debt payoff tracker, and audiobooks.
Best budgeting app: You Need a Budget (YNAB)
In my opinion, YNAB is one of the best apps on the market for budgeting. It costs a bit more than the other apps, but it’s very easy to use. It also comes with some great educational resources. If you’re looking to learn how to budget more effectively, this app can be particularly helpful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Mint a bank?
No. Neither Mint nor Simplifi are banks. These are apps that link to financial accounts from third-party financial institutions like Wells Fargo and Bank of America. They merely pull data and send updates to the web and iPhone and Android devices — meaning you can’t use them to make actual investments or deposits.
Is it safe to manage money on a smartphone?
It largely depends on the app that you’re using. As long as you keep your smartphone up to date with the latest security features and you use secure apps like Mint or Simplifi, you shouldn’t have a problem.
What are some popular financial management apps?
In addition to Simplifi and Mint, you should also look into Personal Capital, EveryDollar, and You Need a Budget. Truth be told, there are many mobile apps you can use to manage personal finances, and each one has a slightly different approach.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for personal finance software, you should seriously consider using Mint or Simplifi. It’s that simple.
I love both of these personal finance apps for their great budgeting features, useful insights, and accessibility.
Not only can these apps help streamline financial planning, they’re also great alternatives to traditional Excel-based budgeting. They may take some getting used to — just like any other app. But, both are very easy to use once you get the hang of them.
At the end of the day, money management is a critical skill if you want to reach financial independence. If you’re looking to achieve financial freedom, consider putting your smartphone to use and downloading a personal finance app today.
Here’s to making the best budgeting decisions possible!