As we’re probably all ready to admit at this point, choosing to make use of the right apps can offer anyone with budget responsibilities a real boost.
The best ones collectively offer a host of quick and uncomplicated ways to increase efficiency, organisation and monitoring, while cutting back on needless expenses.
When it comes to successfully incorporating these handy programs into your daily financial activities, however, the real trick is in narrowing down the vast field of so-called tracker apps – a field that’s seemingly growing every day – to just a choice handful that will have you covered for most situations.
Sticking to a carefully curated list of favourites, rather than going for the ‘kitchen sink’ approach, typically means you’ll get the most out of the ones you do use (not to mention freeing up some precious space on your smartphone or tablet!).
Below are five examples of fiscal tracker apps that, between them, should offer a neat and convenient little suite of solutions to keep your finances ticking over pretty much across the board.
A great personal finance all-rounder to start with, Wally is free for both Apple and Android devices, and provides a very user-friendly, clutter-free way to track your own incomings and outgoings. Streamlining is very much the name of the game with this one, and Wally seems to be built around cutting out as many unnecessary steps as possible – so, for example, you get to photograph receipts rather than having to manually input the data.
It’s secure and private, has plenty of settings for notifications of impending payment dates, and makes slick use of location trackers to serve you additional infographics about where and with whom you’re spending varying proportions of your cash.
Still on an expenses tip (pun semi-intended), Expensify is more aimed at work teams – and especially at frequent business travellers. It’s a real-time transaction tracking and logging app for Apple, Android and desktop, meaning it creates automatic spend reports and claim submissions on the fly, with users scanning and uploading receipts via a smartphone.
Automatic or review-based reimbursements can then be set by the business account holder to activate above or below certain levels, or for specific items, and any changes to account details are instantly synced across all members of a team. The inbox-based Guided Review function also helps maximise efficiency, steering managers’ attention towards ‘duplicates, inaccurate expenses, and other violations’ rather than wasting time on no-brainer claims.
A hugely popular budgeting and saving app, particularly among users who want to ‘Give Every Dollar A Job’ (rule one of gaining full financial control, as the developers see it), YNAB is built on the idea that better budgeting means having an unclouded vision of what your money is supposed to be doing before it does it.
To that end, it enables Apple, Android and desktop users to connect all their bank accounts in one place, set realistic and achievable debt paydown or savings targets, and get real-time progress information in a series of very attractive and easy-to-interpret pie charts and graphs.
Above all, it sets out to give users a toolkit that means they ‘won’t be spending less, but spending right’. There’s a free 34-day trial period, after which you can sign up for permanent use at $50/year.
Changing tack a little here, Vend aims to offer solutions for receiving money, rather than managing it per se. It’s essentially an iPad-optimized point of sale app, giving almost anyone with an iPad the ability to process third party transactions on the hoof.
Mobile retail power means you can sell directly to customers while breaking away from behind a desk, phone or counter – for example at pop-up events, or while pitching and trading directly to clients out in the field – rather than relying on them coming to you.
It incorporates myriad payment options and is compatible with a great many of the most globally recognisable merchant providers, making it speedy and straightforward to accept incoming funds in any location with a WiFi connection. It also adds in a range of additional performance-tracking, price monitoring and customer data features to help you hit targets and plan ahead.
As you may have inferred from the cute title, Acorns is all about empowering individuals to grow their small change into more significant savings.
One of a growing number of so-called ‘micro investing’ apps, this one has quickly developed a large user base of over 1m people, due in part to its extremely simple premise: at its most basic, Acorns works by rounding up your card purchases to the nearest dollar, and automatically reinvesting the (usually tiny) difference.
There’s a fair bit of reading to do on the app site about what exactly these investments are in, but the condensed version is that you get to choose from a pretty extensive raft of Exchange Traded Funds, and the app hand-holds you through the process while greatly encouraging diversification (read: investment safety).
Portfolios have been developed with help from Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Harry Markowitz, so there’s an additional level of reassuring credibility behind the whole process.