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How Safe Are Budget Tracking Apps? | WTOP

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Apps can make quick work of managing and tracking your spending by linking your financial accounts, categorizing your expenses and…

Apps can make quick work of managing and tracking your spending by linking your financial accounts, categorizing your expenses and showing you exactly where your money is going. But are budgeting apps safe?

In general, they are designed to protect your financial information, but you can’t be blamed for wondering, especially considering how many companies have been hacked in recent years. Below, we’ll look at some of the most popular budget tracking apps and break down what they do as well as what makes them secure.

[Read: Apps to Meet Your Financial Goals.]

Mint

How it works. First of all, Mint is free, which is, well, nice. While we live in a capitalistic society and the companies that own budget apps need to make a buck, too, it can be disheartening to spend a lot of cash to manage money. Mint lets you manage and track your spending, in part by connecting all of your financial accounts, so you can see all of your money in one place and get a better picture of your spending habits. There are other features, such as being able to receive reminders to pay bills.

Security features. Is Mint safe? As the company’s website says, “Your login user name and passwords are stored securely in a separate database using multilayered hardware and software encryption. We only store the information needed to save you the trouble of updating, syncing or uploading financial information manually.” Mint also has a security feature that lets users set a four-digit code to access their account, which could be helpful if you use Mint on your phone and worry about your phone being stolen.

Pros and cons. A lot of reviews praise Mint’s ease of use; a lot, however, say the accounts don’t always sync up well, which makes it hard to use. So it’s hard to say how you’ll make out — you may come to love Mint or set up an account and wonder what all the fuss is about.

PocketGuard

How it works. Your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, investments — they can all be linked with this app. You’ll receive customized reports detailing your spending. The “In My Pocket” feature is pretty cool. It shows you how much money you’ll have left to spend once your bills and other expenses are covered.

Security features. Among other things, such as PocketGuard using the type of encryption that major banks use, the budget tracking app offers PIN codes for its users — and Touch ID and Face ID.

Pros and cons. It can be an excellent tool for helping people budget and set financial goals. But to get most of the perks (there’s a basic free version and a paid one), you’ll have to pay for PocketGuard Pro, which is $4.99 a month or $34.99 a year.

Quicken

How it works. Quicken is practically a household name, and the app really does it all, from budgeting to bill pay. Among other things, you can manage your investments on Quicken and get specialized investment reports — and transfer money between your bank accounts.

Security features. There are numerous ways Quicken protects your information, including using secure socket layer technology and firewall controls. Basically, personal financial information traveling from your bank to Quicken to you is all encrypted and unreadable to any hackers during transmission.

Pros and cons. The plus is that there are a lot of money management tools for users. The negative is that, not surprisingly, you have to pay for those tools, and it can get expensive. Prices range from $34.99 to $99.99 a year, depending on what tier you buy and the type of computer you have. Quicken is a little cheaper if you own a Mac versus a PC.

You Need a Budget

How it works. One of the cool features of You Need a Budget, or YNAB, is a “zero-based budgeting system.” YNAB makes sure that every dollar you earn has a “job,” and goes toward bills, savings, investments and so on. It tries to help you know what you will be spending money on — rather than tracking your money after you’ve spent it.

Security features. It has what you would expect, like encrypted data, accredited data centers and third-party audits to make sure that its security features rise to the standards one would expect from a budget tracking app.

Pros and cons. YNAB claims that you’ll typically save $6,000 a year if you use its service. That would be a huge plus. A con, as always, is the cost, and YNAB isn’t cheap. It costs $84 annually, or $11.99 a month. But there is a free trial period for 34 days.

EveryDollar

How it works. This budget tracking app is from Ramsey Solutions, the company founded by financial guru Dave Ramsey. EveryDollar also uses the zero-based budgeting method, in which you plan your month’s spending ahead of time. You set up categories and decide how much money goes into each category. And every day, you’ll track your spending. There’s more to it, of course, but that’s the gist.

Security features. We’ll let its website do the talking: “Ramsey Solutions and our Service partners employ a multilayer security approach including firewall barriers, data encryption techniques, authentication procedures, data transmission encryption, among other hardware, software, and procedural methods.”

Pros and cons. One big pro is that it’s easy to use. A con is, as always, the cost, and it’s significant. But if you’re a Dave Ramsey fan, you truly may feel like it’s a bargain. You aren’t just paying for the EveryDollar app. You’re paying $129.99 a year to belong to Ramsey+, and so you are getting the EveryDollar app but also access to the nine-lesson course at Financial Peace University — or you can join an in-person or virtual class. You also get a free one-on-one financial coaching session, access to livestream events and so on. So depending on your point of view, the cost may be a negative or a positive.

[See: 35 Ways to Save Money.]

HoneyDue

How it works. This app is designed for couples, so you and your significant other can see both of your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments all at once. But there’s more to it than that. You can send messages to each other, so if you’re looking at your spouse’s bank account and wondering about a purchase, you can send an inquiring note through the app.

Security features. As you would expect, among other things, Honeydue offers data encryption, Touch ID and multifactor authentication in order to confirm your identity. You’ll fork over your usernames and passwords to your bank accounts (which is pretty much how all these budget tracking apps work), but HoneyDue will never actually have your banking info in its system.

Pros and cons. Honeydue is free, which is a huge plus. Of course, using Honeydue may mean little too much togetherness for some couples. For…

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