These days, everybody’s seeing more and more smartphones all over the place. There are cheaper phones on the market that pack a lot of punch. Everybody’s texting, taking pictures, and playing games, but there is so much more you can do with that little powerhouse!
We can’t stress enough the power of keeping up with your budget, but maybe the idea of writing things down or keeping track of spreadsheets isn’t really appealing. You could have a whole one-app budgeting machine in the palm of your hand, giving you alerts to bills that are due, instant expense tracking, and being able to keep track of multiple budgets at the same time! Whether you have an Android or an iPhone, there are budgets apps for everyone. The best part is that they’re free!
iPhone: Pocket Expense Personal Finance
One of the cool things about the free version of Pocket Expense – other than the ability to add multiple accounts – is that you can run an expense report to see where your money’s currently going, as well as export all the transactions you’ve made over a certain period of time to a format (like a spreadsheet) that you can email to yourself. You can choose the category of transactions you want to look at (or all of them), as well as pick between daily, monthly, or yearly reports.
If you have trouble keeping track of bills, Pocket Expense can help you create alerts for bills with any kind of pay cycle – meaning that whether you have a bill you pay every month, or every 3 months, you can tailor your alerts to let know when it’s due. You can also keep track of the amounts of the bills that are left, and use different icons to show what status the bills are in. If you are only partially paying a bill, the app will let you do that as well.
The interface is very simple, allows for backup of your data, and offers password protection. It also offers a Pro version for $4.99 that removes ads and allows you to run more kinds of reports. But if you’re looking for something that’s simple when you’re just getting started, Pocket Expense packs a lot of punch for a free product.
Toshl adds a little bit of humor to its simplistic app. You do need to sign up with a valid email address, but the process is painless. Once you’re signed up, you can immediately add expenses as well as your income, set a budget, and get a summary of your incoming and outgoing money for specific time periods
What’s cool about adding expenses to Toshl is that you can create your own tags for each expense, as well as a detailed description of how the money was spent (because sometimes looking at your bank account to see what went where can get confusing!). If you forget to enter in expenses every day, Toshl allows you to set up a daily reminder to enter in your finances for the day at a certain time.
You can set budgets for daily, weekly, every 2 weeks, monthly, or yearly, as well as set budgets based on specific tags. It also allows you to set bill reminders, and show you what your future spend could be on upcoming bills. You’ll also be able to see graphs of your spending trends, as well as export to CSV (which you can look at in a spreadsheet). The free version also allows you the ability to sync with the app’s website so you can look at your expenses on your phone or your home computer.
There are a few downsides to the free version, however. You can’t add more than one income, nor can you add repeating incomes. You also can’t add more than 1 budget, nor export to a spreadsheet format or export a specific tag or month.
Upgrading to their Pro version does add all those features, and has 2 different kinds of payment: either $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year.
Sometimes, the best apps are the ones that are used across all different kinds of platforms. Here are a couple of bonus free budget apps you may want to try for either your iPhone or Android device. (These would be great apps if you have both of these kinds of phones in your family!)
Easy Envelope Budget Aid
The Easy Envelope Budget Aid (or EEBA for short) uses the idea that your money is going into different “envelopes” that represent different expenses or savings accounts. Basically, you “fill” these envelopes with the budget limits you set, and can add more if you need it. These envelopes can be set in any order you like, and are updated in real time.
The free version also allows you to sync with the app’s website, and the app itself is ad-and spam-free. EEBA also offers 3 different pricing plans if you want to upgrade to add more devices, track bank accounts, and get more support.
Mint is probably the Big Daddy of personal finance apps. As soon as you sign up for the free service, you can connect your checking or savings accounts, add in any credit cards you have, and even any other equity you might have (like a car or a house).
Once you have everything set up, then you can start setting up budgets. What sets Mint apart is that it will automatically categorize your transactions (though you may have to do some individual tweaking to make sure the right transactions are being categorized correctly, and you can personalize transactions easily). Mint also lets you set up email or text alerts to notify you when bills are due, if you have unusual activity on your accounts, or even if you’re about to hit a low balance.
With Mint, you can also set specific money goals you’re trying to achieve, like paying off a credit card or other goals. The app also recommends ways to save money based on your spending habits.
While it syncs with your device and its website, keep in mind that it tends to update a little slower than you’d expect. It offers a way to see graphs of your spending, but you can only look at your graphs on a tablet or iPad.
Of course, everybody’s different! The great thing about free apps is that it’s easy to test drive and see what features work for you. Taking care of your budget is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family, so make sure you find the best one for your needs. And as always, stay on top of your budget!