4 Efficient Tools for Budgeting After College

A college graduate begins budgeting after college by tackling her bills online.

If you are a recent college graduate, it is highly likely that you have now become completely responsible for your own finances — if you weren’t already. The time you spent in school probably provided a small glimpse of what independence would look like. But being out on your own means covering bills related to housing, transportation, student loans and everything in between. 

This is why it is so important to begin budgeting after college. Although this process may seem overwhelming at first, it is manageable with the right resources. 

There are countless apps that offer assistance in managing your money. Many even provide features that can help you with account balance monitoring, monthly spending plans, detailed spending reports and bill payment reminders. 

Here are four convenient tools that can help you budget successfully. 

1. Goodbudget

This app won Forbes Advisors’ Best Budgeting Apps of 2024. Goodbudget is based on the envelope budgeting principle, which involves allocating portions of each paycheck to cover the month’s expenses, like groceries, gas, or eating out. During the month, you subtract each expense from the designated digital envelope, allowing you to see what you’re spending from each budget as you’re spending it, so you can stay on track.

Goodbudget is completely free, with a paid upgrade available for only $10 a month or $80 a year. You also get access to free multi-week online budgeting courses that teach you the budgeting basics and help you get control of your spending.

2. You Need a Budget (YNAB)

For novice budgeters who require step-by-step direction and more customizable features, You Need a Budget (YNAB) may be the right fit. YNAB makes it possible to plan and account for potential expenses and prepare more detailed spending plans. YNAB syncs to your bank accounts, but it also allows you to manually enter transactions, which can be useful for cash purchases. 

YNAB offers a 34-day free trial and then requires a monthly payment of $14.99 or an annual payment of $99.00. If you need more than just the basics provided by a free budgeting app, purchasing a plan may prove worthwhile.

3. Rocket Money

Another comprehensive app for basic budgeting needs is Rocket Money. In addition to linking to your bank accounts, Rocket Money can also connect to credit card accounts. The app surveys your purchase patterns and recommends methods for reducing monthly spending. If you desire upgraded features, you can purchase Rocket Money Premium for $4 to $12 a month. 

With the premium app, users can build multiple budgets and receive updates on transactions as they occur throughout the day. Rocket Money also compiles a complete list of the various services you are subscribed to and will directly cancel the subscriptions you deem unwanted. This feature is helpful for both tracking your subscription commitments and narrowing down unnecessary expenses.

4. EveryDollar

Created by financial expert Dave Ramsey and his company, Ramsey Solutions, EveryDollar is a free financial tool that follows Ramsey’s envelope-style budgeting system. Similar to Goodbudget, this app has users build virtual envelopes that track debit card, credit card and cash purchases. Once an envelope’s funds are depleted, it is recommended to refrain from any purchases in that category until the next month.

With the free version of the app, users receive a suggested budget based on monthly income. This budget is customizable, but it requires manual input for expenses.

The premium version of EveryDollar is $79.99 a year or $17.99 a month after completing the 14-day free trial. 

EveryDollar also has debt repayment calculators and attentive email support with call-back options.

This list is just the beginning of the resources available to help you begin budgeting after college. You may need to test out a few different tools before you find the right one for you. 

The beginning of your post-grad journey is the perfect time to get your finances under control. If you can establish responsible spending habits and consistently follow your budget, you will be able to achieve financial stability and navigate life with significantly less stress.