Banks and Fintechs have made payment easier in recent years, with better apps, cards on mobile devices and buy now, pay later. But banking customers now want another digital capability to improve their financial lives: budgeting tools.

In recent years, traditional banks and Fintechs have increased access to financial services and simplified transactions for millions around the world. As of 2023, the space recorded approximately 30,000 startups totaling $179 billion in worth and is expected to reach $492 billion by 2028. While banking via mobile devices has redefined what convenience looks like, it doesn’t come without its risks: The ability to pay for a vast range of products and services with the tap of a phone or click of a button has made all purchases easier, including impulse purchases. These impulse purchases can add up, with surveys estimating that consumers were spending over $300 a month on impulse purchases until inflation forced many to cut back.

As such, budgeting tools are now top-of-mind for banking customers. A recent CI survey found that Millennials and Gen Zers were less satisfied with their current bank and more interested in money management tools than older generations. Budgeting tools are an easy way for firms to attract younger customers.

A recent Mobile Monitor report

Every budgeting tool is different, but most operate along the same lines to help users manage their money. Among several features, they provide spending pattern analyses, savings tools and portfolio performance breakdowns by syncing with banks and credit card accounts. A recent CI report on these tools examined type- and time-based visualizations as well as tools like predictive budgets, goals, automatic savings and future balance calculators. Tools that take income/expenses into consideration not only encourage users to map out long-term goals, save money and keep track of progress but promote acute financial awareness.

Consumers are increasingly looking to banks and Fintechs for these tools, with fewer third-party options on the market. Last year Intuit announced the shutdown of Mint, migrating users toward the company’s other service, Credit Karma. Introduced in 2007 and acquired by Intuit in 2009, Mint was one of the original players in the space offering a free way for users to track their budgets, manage expenses, negotiate bills, and track subscriptions among other practical features. According to Bloomberg, Mint had 3.6 million monthly active users as of 2021, showing the demand for budgeting tools. On the other hand, the demise of Mint and other similar stand-alone apps shows the need for such tools to be tied into a larger business model to survive.

The discontinuation of Mint prompted users to search for alternative platforms that offer similar budgeting tools, creating competitive opportunities for incumbents. Several Fintechs are already reporting a surge in new customers including Monarch Money, a subscription-based money manager app and Cheddar, a spend tracking app, which have both seen an increase in beta signups, demonstrating the immense value these tools still retain. Similarly, Wells Fargo expanded its money management platform Lifesync to all customers last fall. Firms that want to attract new banking customers should expand their budgeting tools.

Below are some best-in-class examples of budgeting and savings tools from firms that CI’s mobile research team tracks:

Ally’s savings buckets

CI’s recent Mobile Monitor report on these budgeting and saving tools identified Ally as a leader in the space. The firm’s proprietary Bucket tool essentially acts as a digital envelope that enables users to allocate balances into icon-aided categories for both checking and savings accounts. A selection of predefined priorities and ability to create custom buckets enable users to set a target amount or date to track progress, while additional features like automatic boosters also supplement budgeting goals. Users can create up to 30 buckets within one account. These visually dynamic budgeting features are among the most engaging tools CI’s Mobile Monitor team tracks.

Ally’s Savings Buckets Tool

Among other capabilities, Ally also offers two unique saving capabilities:

  • The Surprise Savings capability tracks a user’s spending and income and then automatically transfers excess money into a savings bucket
  • Round Ups tracks an internal linked checking account and accumulates the difference between transaction amounts and the nearest whole dollar, automatically transferring the accumulated Round Ups to savings once they total five dollars

Chase’s Spending Planner Tool

Chase also boasts an advanced budgeting tool called Spending Planner that displays a visually dynamic donut chart of remaining budget, days left in the month and percentage spent for the current month. Users see a consolidated view of created categories, with icon-aided rows showing category names, remaining amounts and progress meters tracking spending. A colorful bar graph breaks down monthly budget. Conveniently, card accounts and category budgets can be edited or removed at any time.

Chase’s Spending Planner

Rocket Money’s budgeting tool

Another top budgeting experience come from Rocket Money. The firm’s app uses a range of visuals including a monthly overview bar graph with rows underneath breaking down earned money, paid bills and current spend amount above an option to start a budget. The Breakdown meter visualizes expense categories and highlights frequent spend charges as well as a comprehensive transaction history.

Rocket Money’s Budgeting Tools

Firms looking to implement or expand on their existing budgeting tools may want to review the full Mobile Monitor report on Money Management tools for best practices in this space and more examples of best-in-class experiences. Visit our Mobile Monitor page to learn more the subscription research service. And visit our Insights page for more on the latest trends in financial services and healthcare.

Natalie Kozbial

Natalie Kozbial is an Analyst on CI's Fintech and Mobile teams.