Top 5 Budget Planning Apps For Foreign Students
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Best Budgeting Apps For International Students In The U.S.

Updated on October 11, 2021 01:48 pm
Students Smiling in front of a laptop

College life is a time of major learning, not only inside the classroom, practically every situation you find yourself in, you learn something. You become more independent as you start making decisions on your own as a growing young adult.

It is very common for students to go abroad to study. An international experience can be life-changing. To begin with, you are no longer staying with your parents but far away from home. You gain many new perspectives, meet people from different countries, experience different cultures and work with diverse peers.

While it is tempting to pursue an education abroad, we cannot deny the fact that it can be a costly affair. The United States (U.S.) is a top destination for international students even though the cost of education is also one of the highest. You will have to factor in the cost of living, health insurance, high tuition fees, and other educational-related expenses which makes the total cost of attendance extremely high (5 figures and more in US dollars). 

The currency exchange rate is also a major concern. It will add to your expenses. You want to look for the best money transfers services that will provide the best exchange rates to get more value for your money.

There are scholarships, grants, student loans, and several other financing options for students to cover their tuition fees and certain other expenses, however, other personal expenditures have to be self-managed. If you do take student loans to finance your education, paying back the loan is part of your financial planning.

Managing your finances well is part of the experience of studying abroad. It is perfectly understandable to feel stressed out trying to manage your finances, while you study to earn your degree.

An important skill you need to learn as an international student is keeping track of your money and you do that by creating a budget. In today's time, there are tons of budgeting software/tools and mobile applications that help students track their spending and savings.

These applications can be easily installed on any smartphone or handheld device and also can be synced with a laptop or desktop. We will list the top budgeting apps for foreign students in the U.S. to help you stay on top of your finances.

Before we get to the list of top budgeting apps, let's discuss the basics of budgeting.

What Is A Budget?

A budget is a plan that lists out all your planned expenses (can include savings/investments) for a certain period, based on how much you earn. The budget helps you prioritize your spendings on the things you need like books, food, rent, utility bills, credit card bill payments, etc.

Creating a budget is a proactive step in organizing your finances so that you have your basic expenses covered and knowing you can enjoy going out with friends, go for entertainment without worrying about money. It ensures that you are not spending more than what you earn and that you are not falling into a debt trap. Hence, budgeting is important for financial stability. Developing good financial habits will serve you well even after graduation.

Stay Within Your Budget With These Tips

  • Set Specific Financial Goals

It is easier to stick to your budget if you make specific financial goals. It can be short-term goals such as saving money for books for the next semester or a trip or paying extra on your student loan/credit card bill each month. It can be long-term goals like saving up for a down payment for a new car or paying off your student loans within the next five years or saving for retirement etc. Specifying why you are saving money keeps you on track towards your financial goals. 

  • Underestimate Your Income

When you underestimate your income, you end up with a cash surplus which is way better than a budget shortfall.

Your income every month could be coming from your scholarships, grants, student loans, or your on-campus/off-campus jobs. Once you start making a budget, you will be able to see if your expenses exceed your income. You can reduce your expenses if you can differentiate between your needs or wants. For example, ordering food online is convenient but if you do it twice a week and repeat it every week, the expenses on food add up. Focus on saving more by cooking your food. Look for any cheap alternatives and avoid unnecessary spendings.

  • Prepare For The Unexpected

A budget helps you prepare for any unexpected expenses that can happen while you are attending your classes. It could be a job loss, illness, unexpected bills, phone repairs, etc. Life is unpredictable and unusual expenses happen. Keeping aside an emergency fund should be a priority. If nothing happens, it will be your savings.

Top Budgeting Apps For Students In The U.S.

Tracking all your expenses, spending, and saving habits while you study is not always the easiest or fun thing to do. That's why there are many budgeting apps to make life easier.

We have compiled a list of the best budgeting apps that can help you choose the one that is best suited for your needs.


Rated 4.8 stars out of 5 on the App store and 4.5 stars out of 5 on Google Play, Mint is one of the most downloaded free personal finance apps.

With the Mint app, you can integrate all your banking activity which the app tracks and categorize your transactions automatically. The notable features of the Mint app are customizable budgets and alerts. The app sends you alerts for any upcoming bills, low balances, or large suspicious transactions, or if you are about to go over budget. This way you can avoid paying late fees, overdraft fees, penalty fees, and more.

Another great feature is the personalized insights about your spending habits to suggest a budget goal and help you spend smarter and save more.


Students with a history of overspending can go for PocketGuard. It seamlessly links your checking accounts, credit, and saving accounts and keeps track of your spending. It estimates your income, tracks your expenses and analyzes your saving goals to help you stick to your budget.

PocketGuard automatically categorizes your expenses but you can also customize the categories. And set spending limits in the app as well.

If you link your recurring bills such as cable bills or phone bills, the tracking feature of the app helps you negotiate better rates on such bills. The Autosave feature helps you save money effortlessly (this feature comes with a $2 maintenance fee for the free version of the app).

You can upgrade to PocketGuard Plus for $4.99 per month or $34.99 per year.

It is rated 4.7/5 stars on the App Store and 3.8/5 on Google Play.


If you are looking to share your budget with a friend or a partner, the Goodbudget app is for you. You can sync the app with more than one person.

Goodbudget works on the envelope-budgeting technique which is dividing your funds into envelopes that can be categorized based on spending requirements such as rent, foods, entertainment, etc but it is done entirely digital. This is an excellent method to save for a large purchase, or saving for a down payment for a new home or a car.

With Goodbudget, you will have to manually add account balances, paycheck, cash, etc, to their specific category, since it is not synced with your bank accounts. Once added, Goodbudget can show how much you have spent and how much is left. The platform is accessible from a tablet or desktop also.

There is a free version and a paid version ($7 per month or $60 per year). The paid version offers unlimited envelopes and accounts and other extended capabilities.

The app has a rating of 4.7/5 stars on the App Store and 4.4/5 stars on Google Play.


YNAB, short for You Need A Budget is based on the zero-based budgeting system, meaning every dollar in the budget is assigned a task. It is strictly a budget planner.

There is a 34-day free trial after which you pay $11.99 per month or $84 a year. YNAB offers a 100% no-risk money-back guarantee if you cancel at any time before the trial ends. For students, the app is available for free for 12 months if they provide proof of enrollment.

YNAB app assists you with your financial goal setting and tracking and gives insights on financial habits. You also have access to free online workshops, budgeting advice, and support from YNAB staff.

The app works on desktops and even voice-activated devices. The app is rated 4.8/5 on App Store and 4.3 /5 stars on Google Play.

Personal Capital

Primarily an investment tool, Personal Capital is one of the popular personal finance apps. You can link your checking, savings, credit card accounts, as well as student loans, retirement accounts, and mortgages. The app tracks your activity to provide your full financial picture, from your daily expenditures to your investment portfolio performance.

It tracks your day-to-day spending and lists all your transactions by category. You can customize these categories and see how much you spend each month on each category. It also tracks your net worth in real-time.

Personal Capital offers several savings tools that allow you to build emergency funds or retirement savings. It also has a desktop version.

If you are interested in investing on top of keeping track of your money, go for Personal Capital. The app is rated 4.7/5 stars on the App Store and 4.3 /5 stars on Google Play.


Budgeting apps are numerous and come with a wide array of features. To decide which app is the best for you, get clear about your personal financial goals. What will be the purpose of your budgeting app? Is it only to track your spending and build savings? Or is it to learn how to make a budget and stick to it? Do you plan to invest in the future? and so on.

Make use of the free apps or any free trial period before you start paying for such apps. No matter which budgeting app you use, you will learn how to manage your finances as a student and develop healthy financial habits that will serve you for life. Learning how to budget as a student will help you in achieving both your academic and financial goals.

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Owing to the flow of trade and people between the two countries, there is a lot of EUR to INR or INR to EUR currency exchange. The trouble with sending money internationally is that it comes with certain costs. 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Everything You Need to Know About Paycard

How do you pay your employees? As an employer, paying your employees is an important part of your business. Direct deposit to your employee's bank account or issuing paper checks are two of the most common ways of compensating them. Gone are the days when employees used to get paid in cash.But what happens when some employees have no bank accounts? This is where paycards come in. Paycards for employees are an alternative option when the employees do not own a bank account, and the employers do not want to pay in hard cash.It is estimated that about 5.4% of U.S. households (approximately 7.1 million) were "unbanked" in 2019, according to the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDCI). An unbanked household means no one in the household had a checking or savings account at a bank or a credit union.For small businesses with employees with no bank accounts, paycards can be a convenient option as a payment option.Direct deposit and paycards both offer the benefit of a paperless payroll distribution process and allow the employer to electronically transfer funds conveniently. While direct deposit is the norm for many businesses, paycards are gaining popularity each year.There are pros and cons of using paycards, and in this blog, we will discuss if paycards are right for your business and employees.What is a Paycard?Paycard is a lot like a prepaid debit card as it is made of plastic and can be pre-loaded. In the case of a paycard, the money loaded comes from the employer in the form of an employee's pay. 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The payroll software may also charge a fee for their service.Can Employers Save Money When Using Paycards?Since paycards are reloadable cards, employers can have the banks reload the paycards with their employees' wages for the pay period, avoiding the costs and hassle of issuing paper checks, mailing them, or re-issuing lost checks. The savings may not be a substantial amount but they can add up gradually.Can Employers Choose between Direct Deposit and Paycards?While there is no mandate that employers can only offer either direct deposit or paycards to their employees for their wages, it is safe to check with your state's law on payroll distribution.One-third of states allow employers to require employees to have bank accounts for direct deposit. In such a case, paycards may not be needed. 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However, many states have laws that require some form of written pay statement.Even if your state doesn't need you to provide pay stubs, you are still required by the Fair Labour Standards Act to keep track of your employees' working hours.For employees, a pay stub gives a record of their wages, deductions, contributions, and other information. It is also proof of income or employment, which is often needed when applying for a loan, credit card, or housing.For employers, a pay stub is useful for tax purposes, and it can be used to resolve any discrepancies with employee pay.Is it Possible for Paycards to be Overdrafted?Usually, paycards works like debit card, allowing cardholders to withdraw up to the limit of the loaded amount. However, there are paycard that allows overdraft for employees. But it can come with hefty overdraft fees if employees use funds over the limit in their account. Usually, you should be able to prevent misuse by subscribing to an overdraft protection service.Will Paycard Affect Credit Score?Paycards, like all prepaid cards, do not affect an employee's credit score.What is a Paycard Gets Lost or Stolen?A replacement card can be issued in such cases. The employee needs to notify the employer, and then the employer should immediately notify the card issuer. The employee is not liable for the incident as long as the issue is timely reported. Paycards come with similar protection as that of a prepaid card.The reporting time is determined by the card issuer. If you wait longer to report after learning of the loss and theft, the fraudulent charges may increase. You may have to pay a fee for the replacement card.Pros and Cons of PaycardsProsA win-win situation for unbanked employees and their employers.Green alternative to paper checks.Immediate payment to employees.No hassle of cashing a paycheck.No monthly or maintenance fees.Added security when assessing their funds (paycards require a PIN).Employees can report to the issuer if funds are used unauthorized.Paycards can be reloaded during each payday, saving money on issuing paper checks.Added efficiency for the employer as the employer would not have to physically present or mail paychecks to unbanked employees.ConsEmployees may incur fees for several reasons. Be aware of such potential fees.Employers have certain responsibilities to educate employees about the usage of paycards.Limited range of services and flexibility in managing your funds compared to bank accounts and other prepaid cards.The best paycards programs are easy to set up, have lower fees, quick access to funds, and provide a range of benefits such as cashback and discounts. We have made a list of popular paycards providers for businesses:Wisely Paycard by ADPOnline portal and mobile appCompatible with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google PayZero cost sign upNo hidden feesNo credit checkNo overdraft feeZero cost direct deposit of pay and other sources of income (including government benefits)Accepted wherever Visa is acceptedKeep track of spending and account balances 24/7 on the appGet cash back at major retailersSurcharge-free ATM withdrawalsFDIC insuredSecurity features include instant card lock, purchase protection, and travel alert notificationsRapid PaycardDirect Deposit onto rapid paycardLoad funds from approved checks with Ingo Money mobile appsNo fee for cashing paycheck24/7 account access with rapid! Access mobile appNo credit checkCan be used at ATMs, merchants worldwide, wherever Debit Mastercard or Visa debit cards are acceptedPay bills and make purchasesBook airline and hotel reservations onlineEarn interest on savings accountGet cash back rewardsFDIC insuredMoney protected with Zero Fraud LiabilityKittrell PaycardNo fees to use (there are fees for certain situations)Fee-free ATM network with MoneyPassWebsite and Kittreall AppGet real-time alerts and push notificationsCash back at point-of-sale terminals2-way texting to manage your card and accountCompatible with Apple Wallet, Google Pay, Samsung PayEasy portability (Get direct deposit of stimulus checks, tax refund, benefits)Freeze or unfreeze card on-demandSkylight PaycardZero sign up feeNo credit checkNo minimum balance Personalized your card with a family photo or unique imageManage money anywhere on Mobile AppDirect deposit your government benefits, tax refundsUse anywhere where Visa Debit & Debit Mastercard are acceptedFDIC insuredZero liability protectionPay bills onlineEarn interest on savings accountEarn cash back with Payback RewardsSend money to or receive money from friends and family with Netspend cardsSet text alerts about transactionsRefer a friend and boost your card balanceSkylight overdraft limit is $100 & 3 times/ monthConclusionOverall, paycards can be convenient and cost-effective for employees and employees when compared to paychecks or for those employees with no bank account. 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Clipboard with NRE Account
NRE Account Guidelines: Avoiding the Enforcement Directorate

It is common for a Non-Resident to open an NRE Account or other similar accounts, with a bank in India and transfer their earnings from their foreign country into these accounts. NRI's are not required to pay taxes in India on earnings that they received outside of India however these guidelines are frequently abused. An influx of cases of money laundering and unexplained funds in NRE accounts has prompted the Enforcement Directorate of India (ED) to crack down on irregularities in NRE account activities.In one specific example, an individual transferred a large number of funds into a family members' NRE account. Upon investigation by the ED however, it was found that these funds were commission income which was generated abroad. He was then asked to furnish the overlaying contracts for these commission incomes and was penalized accordingly.As an NRI with an NRE account, it is very important that you are able to explain the source of your funds in your account should you be contacted by the ED. Failure to explain the source of your funds in your account is considered to be a violation and can result in tax penalties.In order to avoid being questioned by the ED in regards to NRE account activity, it is highly recommended that all NRI's protect themselves in the following ways:Distinguish between current account transactions from capital account transactions.Inform all applicable parties regarding any changes in residential status.Distinguish between Person Resident in India & Person Resident Outside India.Keep track of investments made in India from Rupee funds in India. For example, when their residential status is that of a Resident and the investments made from funds remitted from abroad and when their residential status is that of a non-resident.Understand the sale proceeds of movable and immovable assets in India.Comply with statutory guidelines for filing documents and reporting requirements for different transactions.Do not enter into capital account transactions that are prohibited or are not covered under general provisions of permission.Do not enter into current account transactions that are prohibited or restricted.Avoid participating in any " net - off " transaction with a resident individual.Never instruct or allow a resident to make an outward transaction on your behalf.The Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) extends to all of India and makes offenses related to foreign exchange, civil offenses. Such offenses are not taken lightly by the Indian government, which is why it is imperative that these guidelines are abided by and taken seriously as any violations will likely result in penalties and legal action. Running into issues with your NRE account and have to deal with the ED can be extremely stressful and nerve-wracking, which is why it is important to follow the above guidelines in protecting yourself from such circumstances.

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