Spending money is sooo easy these days. Just tap or swipe, and then see your money charged away. Poof. But did you really see where your money went? After several credit or debit card transactions every month, it’s super simple to forget exactly how your money was spent. More poof.
It’s time to open your eyes. Money doesn’t just evaporate. It goes somewhere in calculable chunks that can be tracked, analyzed, and thus seen. Unpoof. The thing is, tracking money is kinda fun. Seeing where your money goes gives you the power to catch needless spending and increase savings. More unpoof.
Keeping tabs on every dollar spent doesn’t have to be a drag or be a lot of work though. Your smartphone — the device you rarely part from — is the perfect tool to do the heavy lifting for you.
Over the last two months I’ve downloaded, tested, and budgeted with several free iOS and Android personal finance apps to help you get your money on track. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to budgeting or are experienced with money management tools — there’s an app on my list for everyone to unpoof all that poof. Promise.
HEY: If you’re new to budgeting, be sure to check out my popular series, appropriately named: How to Make a Budget. People say it’s fun. I say it works.
HEY Part Two: If you love apps, take a peek at 5 Free grocery apps that save you time and money.
1. Wally — iOS
I’ve been having my way with an intelligent app named Wally. He’s a good lookin’ fellow boasting a slick interface with user-friendly features. He’s also well-loved with budgeters across the interwebs because he tracks expenses, helps you set savings goals, and budgets brilliantly. You might want to hook up with Wally too ’cause he’s my number one personal finance and budgeting app pick.
One of the worst things about tracking expenses is entering transactions into your budget. Data entry is tedious. Wally takes the tedium and turns it into fun by using your smartphone’s GPS to populate the places you spend money. Just enter the store name and Wally locates all the retailers where you’ve dropped cash. I’m into it.
Another unique transaction feature is the ability to photograph your receipts to update your spending and expenses. Poof, data entry be gone.
Worried about hackers hacking your financial data? Don’t be. Wally doesn’t store your stuff on remote servers — all information is stored locally on your mobile device. Just don’t lose your phone, OK?
Wally’s money reporting features are simple to use and easy to navigate. Those with accounting or business backgrounds may find Wally reports a little too basic though. Another downside of this app is there’s no way to share your data with a spouse, and you can’t export your budget to another device, so it’s stuck on your phone forever.
Bottom Line: Wally is a free app without ads for iOS users. An Android version is in the works. With Wally you can build custom budgeting categories, set daily reminders to update fixed and variable spending, and update transactions in unique ways. Wally supports all currencies.
2. Spendee — iOS, Android
Spendee is a very simple budgeting tool, plain and simple. The app tracks money in and money out — that’s it! Spendee’s interface is pretty to view and easy to follow, so first time budgeters might like getting started with this app because it handles the basics without letting you get lost in the unnecessary extras.
With Spendee you can organize expenses by set categories, such as: bills, groceries, travel, and hobbies. Categories are not customizable, so forget creating something specific to your lifestyle. A plus is Spendee doesn’t require a third-party account to get budgeting, so all your financial data stays secure on your mobile device.
Bottom Line: Spendee helps you see where your money is going without any distracting bells and whistles. The app offers limited data export to a CSV or Excel file, so you can take your data with you to another app if you require more functionality in the future.
- Online: Spendee
- Download: Spendee on iTunes ($1.99), Spendee on Google Play (free with ads, $2.39 upgrade w/o ads)
3. Mint — iOS, Android
With over 10 million users worldwide, Intuit’s Mint is likely the leading budgeting tool today. Mint tracks spending, budgets income, and helps you set financial goals all with an attractive interface. The real differentiator with Mint is how the app automatically tracks transactions by integrating with your online bank accounts and syncing your data into its own servers.
The problem? In order to sync with your bank, Mint requires your bank card numbers and online banking passwords. Handing out your banking data is a serious matter, and disclosing this information could be in direct violation of your financial institution’s Terms of Service. Also, your money may not be protected if Mint were to get hacked.
TD Canada does not support Mint.com: “We can confirm that if you share your EasyWeb login access information with Mint.com, this will contravene with the terms and conditions stated in the Cardholder and Electronic Banking Terms and Conditions document.”
Wading through CIBC’s banking agreement may make you think twice about using Mint. It might also make you stop breathing because this important bit is one-freaking-sentence-long. BREATHE.
You are also responsible for any Losses that result from any use by a third party of your Bank Card or User ID and your Passwords or Personal Verification Questions, including, without limitation, use by a service provider that provides an online account aggregation service, which retrieves, consolidates and presents your Accounts for the sole purpose of allowing you to view your Accounts in one place, that you authorized (contrary to Section 7) to use your Bank Card or User ID and your Passwords or Personal Verification Questions.
Phew. Scary stuff.
Bottom Line: Mint is the market leader, but to use the service you’ll have to give Intuit read-only access to your bank accounts. I didn’t use the app because I’m a fan of keeping my banking passwords secure by keeping them in my head. Check out Mint.com helps you stay on track, but at what risk? for more Canadian concerns.
4. Toshl Finance — iOS, Android
Odd looking cartoon characters offer words of encouragement as you enter your financials into the Toshl Finance app. It’s a wacky world out there, and Toshl reminds you of it daily.
Besides marveling over a host of weird characters, Toshl users can track income and expenses, create scheduled expenses to minimize re-entering repeated events, set simple savings goals, and view basic graphs to see where they’re at financially.
Before starting will the Toshl app you’ll need to create an account at Toshl.com for storing your data in their cloud. If you feel this is a security risk, then maybe this app ain’t for you.
Bottom Line: Toshl is a cloud-based personal finance app that boasts middle-of-the-road budgeting features where you manually enter all transactions. Quirky graphics may be fun for some, annoying for others. The free version offers very basic budgeting and reporting tools for use with only one budget. Upgrading to the ‘Pro Version’ for $19.99/year gives you unlimited budgets and more robust reporting tools.
5. Google Drive — iOS, Android
Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is not exactly a personal finance or budgeting tool — it’s an app that gives you a way to access free storage space in your Google account. Since files saved to Google Drive can be shared with others, the idea is to use one of Google’s many money-tracking spreadsheets, or my really cool budget spreadsheet, to share with your partner or spouse. Financial collaboration is totally possible, people.
Google Drive syncs automatically into the Google cloud, so you can edit your files from anywhere — a browser, a desktop computer, or across all your mobile devices. If you don’t have an Internet connection you’re OK — files can be made available offline so you can still view your budget spreadsheet and edit away.
Tired of tracking a stack of receipts? Scan and save them to Drive, and find them through search later.
Bottom Line: Google Drive offers support for budget spreadsheets across platforms and devices. Recommended for purists who like cells, columns, and rows. Great for financial collaboration with a partner.
Happy money tracking, spending seeing, income counting, and budgeting. May you all go unpoof.
Question: What’s your top personal finance app? Share away in the comments! The more budgeters who chime in the better.