5 of the best budgeting apps to save and earn more money

best budgeting apps
With the best budgeting apps, it's possible to efficiently manage your finances as an international student. Source: Brittany Hosea-Small/AFP

With things getting more expensive, the best budgeting apps can help you to manage — and ultimately save — money better.

It isn’t cheap to be an international student. On average, students in US unis spend US$10,000 to US$18,000 per year on housing, food, textbooks, travel, weather-appropriate clothing and entertainment. Tuition fees for undergraduate programmes can range from US$3,800 to US$38,070, according to the College Board, Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2021

These expenses can add up. Setting up a budget lets you do more than see where your money is going — it helps you plan for future expenses and achieve your financial goals. Maybe you want to get out of debt or save for a new laptop or trip, or just for a rainy day — whatever it is, these are the best budgeting apps to help you get there:

best budgeting apps

Some of these apps can help you to set up your budget and automatically track your spending. Source: Ina Fassbender/AFP

Best budgeting apps for international students

1. Mint

Mint compiles all your accounts in one place, giving you a snapshot of your financial life. With this free app, you can customise your budget based on different categories like bills, entertainment, personal care and more. 

Linking your bank accounts to your Mint profile will automatically analyse your spending and suggest personalised budget goals. 

One user explained how he benefited from using Mint: “Without Mint helping me manage all of my accounts in one place, I wouldn’t have been motivated to pay off US$125,000 of student debts in 3 years.”

You can download Mint on the App Store, Google Play or sign up for a free account on its website. 

2. Wally

Wally is another free app that functions similar to Mint. However, you would have to record your transactions manually. On the plus side, you do not need to connect your bank account to enjoy the full benefits.

With Wally, you can see your budget, making it easier to determine where you can cut back on your spending.

You can download the app on the App Store.

best budgeting apps

With Digit, you can automatically save small amounts of money every day. Source: Stephane De Sakutin/AFP

3. Goodbudget

Are you looking for an effective method to save money? Download Digit. This budgeting app connects to your bank account and automatically saves small amounts of money for you each day.

You can indicate the maximum limit for Digit to save on any given day. Whether it’s 75 cents or a dollar, it adds up. The app also separates the right amount to move into your “Bills” account to pay monthly bills like rent, utilities, or subscriptions. 

The best part? You enjoy a six-months free trial to familiarise yourself with the app. After that, you can pay a monthly subscription fee of US$5. Digit is available for download on the App Store and Google Play Store. 

4. Rakuten

When you are in college, some expenses — like textbooks and groceries — are hard to escape. You might think: “Wouldn’t it be nice to earn a little cash back from these essentials?”

Rakuten can help. It’s an app and a browser extension that will help you earn your cash back when shopping online or in person. Once you connect your debit or credit cards to the app, you’ll receive a certain percentage of money back when you shop at a store affiliated with Rakuten’s network (over 3,500 stores are included).

The cash back gets paid out quarterly by check or Paypal payments. This app is available on IOS and Android.

5. Top Cashback

If you are an international student studying in the UK, Top Cashback will allow you to claim money back on your online and in-store shopping at over 5,000 merchants. 

Your cashback will appear on your “Earnings” page seven days after your purchase. Once the retailer pays the commission for your purchase, your cashback becomes “payable” and you can withdraw it through your PayPal account. You can also convert it into a gift card with a bonus of up to 20%. 

You can download Top Cashback on the App Store and Google Play Store for free.