How Accountability Apps Can Help You Budget

Quick Answer

Accountability apps can help you budget by providing external motivation for sticking to your financial plan. When you use an accountability app for budgeting help, you can lean on this technology to help push you toward your financial goals.

Woman budgeting on her phone with an app and papers

Accountability apps can give you tools to help you stick to your budget. If you have a hard time developing internal motivation to stay on budget, these apps can provide external motivation. You may even find yourself hitting your financial goals faster and with less struggle.

What Are Financial Accountability Apps?

Financial accountability means establishing a method to hold yourself accountable to the financial goals you set for yourself. Accountability apps are tools that can keep you financially accountable and make it easy to track your process on your phone or other device. For those who struggle with the motivation to stick to their budget, using accountability apps could be helpful.

There are many apps available—some free and some paid—that can help you maintain your budget with accountability. Some of these apps are based on tracking your progress; others set up a small penalty when you miss your target, motivating you to stay on track.

Accountability apps incentivize positive budgeting behavior (or possibly disincentivize poor budgeting behavior) so you have one more reason to stick to your budget.

How to Use Accountability Apps With Your Budget

Learning how to stay accountable to your budget is part of financial goal-setting. Some of the goals you might use accountability to reach include:

You can use an accountability app to design a budget process that will help you stick to your goal. If you are saving for your wedding, set your app's individualized goal-setting with your chosen savings amount. Then use the accountability feature—a visual chart, a coach or partner, or a financial pledge—to stay on track for reaching that goal.

For example, with a visual progress chart-making app, you could set a financial goal of saving $500 over the year for holiday presents. Every time you save $10, add a dot on the chart. You'll soon see a line chart emerge that shows how you have remained accountable to your goal.

5 Types of Accountability Apps

There are several different types of accountability apps. Choose from the following to meet your own needs:

  1. Visual progress trackers: Would it help for you to see that you're making progress on your goals? Some apps, like Beeminder and Fabulous, help you make a chart or visual display of your progress. Seeing that you've met your financial goals over the past few payment cycles can help you stay motivated for the next one.
  2. Accountability coaches and partners: Some apps pair you with a coach to help you stay on track with your budgeting goals. Others can pair you with a partner to help keep track of your progress and verify it.
  3. Public journey document apps: You can use some general social media apps like TikTok or Instagram to document your budgeting journey. Having accountability to your followers can be extra motivating to reach your goals.
  4. Financial pledge apps: Apps like StickK let you pledge a certain amount of money to remain consistent with your goals. If you miss your target, you get penalized. This may not be the best option if you're on a tight budget. Alternatively, the potential loss of more money could be the most motivating thing for you.
  5. Save now, buy later accounts: Get rewarded for hitting your budget savings goal with a save now, buy later style savings account. When you use browser-based savings apps like Accrue Savings, you get rewarded for sticking to your savings goals with discounts on your purchase goal.

Whichever app you choose, it's always important to protect your financial information. So if you decide to document your journey into envelope-based budgeting on YouTube, for example, be smart about covering any account numbers, and don't reveal how much cash you keep in your home. Scammers can utilize financial information to steal from you or commit identity theft.

The Bottom Line

Leaning on technology to help motivate you to meet goals is a long-standing practice. It often helps folks meet their aspirations to get more fit or eat healthier meals. Using it for personal finance intentions can be a smart move to help you secure your financial future.

Another app you can use to help with your budget is the personal finances tool in your Experian membership app. Keep track of all your accounts and your budget in one spot. This way you will know exactly what kinds of success to report to your accountability app.