Yesou and your significant other probably aren’t going out for a romantic dinner this Valentine’s Day, so why not do the next best thing? Light a few candles, pour some wine, and download a budget app.
In fact, there are specific budget apps for couples that help you learn more about each other’s expenses, debts, and investments. These tools track your expenses so that you and your partner can reference the same (objective) information.
So rather than suspecting that you’ve overspended on takeout or that either of you are a little happy with shopping on Amazon, you can look at some real numbers. You both can see exactly how much each is spending on what, as well as how those expenses change over time and become part of the rest of your financial situation.
If this sounds like something you and your partner could benefit from, consider checking out these apps.
3 budget apps for couples
Honeydue, Honeyfi and Zeta Money Manager are specially designed for couples and are available in the iOS App Store and Google Play. They are also similar in the following ways:
- Both partners can synchronize their financial accounts and see each other’s transactions and balances. But each of these apps also allows users to keep certain finances private.
- Users can synchronize their checking and savings accounts, as well as their credit cards, loans and investments.
- Users can track invoices and receive reminders of upcoming due dates.
- The apps provide a customizable family budget or allow users to set limits for specific spending categories.
- Users can communicate with each other within the app in some way, such as commenting on an expense.
Here’s what sets each app apart and how it differs from the rest:
For starters, this app is free. (Honeydue asks you to tip them a few dollars monthly, but you can choose not to.) In the App Store and Google Play, Honeydue has the most reviews and the highest ratings of the three apps, as of this writing. Most of the reviews are positive, but some users point out that the app could be more streamlined and faster to display updated account balances. Unlike Honeyfi and Zeta, Honeydue doesn’t allow couples to collaborate on savings goals, but it does offer a joint bank account.
This app offers a 30 day free trial. If you choose to stick with it, you can pay $ 60 per couple for an annual subscription ($ 5 per month) or sign up for a monthly subscription of $ 9.99 per month. In the App Store and Google Play, Honeyfi only had a few hundred reviews, but her ratings were almost as high as Honeydue’s. Honeyfi has the most robust lens function of the three apps. Users can set rules specifying a certain amount of money to be transferred regularly from a checking account to a separate FDIC insured account. Honeydue and Zeta recommend linking accounts to get the most out of the apps, but they allow you to skip this step and manually enter transactions if you prefer.
3. Zeta Money Manager
Of the three apps, Zeta has the least reviews and the lowest ratings, with some users (mostly on Google Play) noting that the app is having issues. That said, Zeta is free and offers similar functionality to Honeydue and Honeyfi. Couples who use Zeta can also use her IOUs to track and allocate expenses and get reimbursed through Venmo or PayPal.
There are other apps that are not designed for couples but still might work for you and your partner. For example, Goodbudget is an application based on the envelope system which allows household budgets to be synchronized across multiple devices. There are also ways to split a budget in the Need a Budget app. Discover these and other tools in our best budget apps listing.
How to budget with your partner
Whichever app you choose – or if you go low-tech budget worksheet road instead – talking about money with a loved one can seem quite busy. As he explores everyone’s finances in tools and conversations, Certified Financial Therapist Ed Coambs emphasizes the importance of financial empathy. Try to understand yourself better, rather than identifying whether the decisions are good or bad.
Part of empathy is remembering that you and your partner have had different financial experiences, says Coambs, who is also a marriage and family therapist based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Even if you both have similar financial backgrounds, he says, “there will always be subtle micro-differences in what you prioritize or value.”
Ideally, you and your partner will get to the point where you can “bare yourself financially,” as Coambs puts it. This means that no one worries about criticisms or judgments about their money and what they do with it, he says, and there is a “shared sense of where finances are going in the future.”
Achieving this kind of transparency is a huge undertaking for many couples, Coambs says. Before using a shared budget app and disclosing your finances, agree to a no-judgment policy. If it turns out that you or your partner can’t quite sway this, maybe now is not the time to budget together.
At this point, Coambs says you might want to work on “building the relationship skills necessary to feel safe with each other.” This could mean working on communication, listening and empathy or addressing past trauma.
How to get the most out of the app
If you and your partner are feeling good about moving forward with a shared budget app, McHale suggests spending the first month or so connecting your accounts, learning how to use the app, and letting it track your money. After that, meet your partner and take a look at the data from last month.
“Raising awareness is the gateway to change and is at least half the battle,” says McHale, who is also the founder of financial services firm Moneyfull. With that baseline, you can try spending $ 50 less on takeout next month, for example.
These types of changes aren’t for the sole purpose of depriving you of late night pizza solutions. They can help you and your partner to be more intentional about your spending and to focus your money on what you really want. For example, if you want to buy a house this year, maybe the $ 50 a month you save on take out can be used as a down payment.
“The purpose of the budgeting app is to align your spending with your priorities,” says McHale. “This is how you experience the joy of money.”
More from NerdWallet
Laura McMullen writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @lauraemcmullen.
Article 3 Budget Apps For Couples Who Want To Match The Money originally appeared on NerdWallet.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.