According to CNN health, the average person checks his or her phone 34 times a day.* As young people interested in entrepreneurship, I suspect many of us can easily check our smartphones 34 times in two hours. Turn your smartphone into a tool for success with these 10 helpful personal finance apps.
“Umbrella” Finance Management
These apps allow you to see everything from one central ‘switchboard,’ so you can manage budgets, debt, and spending across multiple accounts.
Mint.com – Free (Android and iOS)
Mint.com is an online service that allows you to securely manage all of your financial responsibilities from one place. First, make an account on mint.com and connect your accounts to their system. You can add budget categories like ‘Eating Out’ and set up ‘Goals,’ (such as ‘Save $2,000 for New Computer’). With the app, you can track your budget on-the-go (edit the budget through the website – the app is read-only). The Mint.com service boasts over 6 million users, and the app received glowing reviews from PC Magazine and Lifehacker. The website also advertises multiple security and encryption features built in to the service.
Pageonce – Free; Gold Membership $4.99/month (Android and iOS)
As the primary competitor of Mint.com, Pageonce also allows you to view your bills and balances across accounts from one secure ‘umbrella’ application. Access account statements, monitor investment portfolios, and even keep track of frequent flyer miles and rewards. Pageonce’s free app has an aesthetic, intuitive interface with similar functionality to the Mint app. For $4.99/month, the paid version (Pageonce Gold) lets you pay bills right from your phone with the push of a button. This feature is unique to the Gold version of Pageonce, and benefits those who just can’t wait to pay their bills.
(Note – Pageonce has just announced a plan to change the $4.99 Gold subscription to a pay-as-you-go service per transaction – this change is intended to make it simpler for new users to try out the premium service while grandfathering existing Gold users who do not wish to switch to the new plan.)
EasyMoney – $9.95 (Android)
Those who love graphs and charts will salivate over the android-only EasyMoney app. EasyMoney creates interactive graphs of budget growth and management over weeks, months and years. You can track multiple accounts as well as multiple currencies, and analyze spending on-the-go with a variety of visualizations. It also offers an app-specific locking passcode feature, so that only you can access your data.
Smaller-Scale Budget Management
These simpler tools specialize in quick, on-the-go checkups and edits for weekly and monthly budgets.
My Weekly Budget – $0.99 (iOS)
MWB is a fairly new app for iPhone. It’s very intuitive (it took me only a few moments before I felt like an expert) and takes virtually no effort to update. You enter purchases with descriptive labels, and the app keeps track of how much more you’ve allowed yourself to spend that week, as well as how much you’ve spent on each type of purchase (Gas, Food, etc.)
iWallet – $4.99 (iOS)
Also for iPhone, iWallet smoothly categorizes and analyzes daily spending. The app features dashboard alerts when you’re close to overspending, and the interface takes only a few seconds to navigate. Further, you can analyze spending based on vendor, category and payment method: this way, you can easily avoid unintentional over-spending on credit lines. iWallet is a well-designed and functional small-scale budgeting app.
Budgetizer – Free (Android)
If you want an app that’s very easy to use and gives you an option for a constant reminder of your budget, Budgetizer is your go-to Android option. Create widgets for one of your home screens and update your spending directly from there. You don’t need to enter any complicated information, and Budgetizer simply tracks spending – it doesn’t analyze trends. The app is perfect for young people and students developing financial independence.
Droid Wallet – Free (Android)
Similar to iWallet, Droid Wallet also allows you to track smaller-scale expenses as they arise. The interface is good for people who like to see a functional, well-organized layout without bells or whistles. It’s a solid app for managing all your short-term budgets: its only downside is the lack of a repeated income or expense feature from month-to-month – you do have to re-enter repeated events every month, even if your income is exactly the same.
More Nifty Personal Finance Tools
Red Laser – Free (Android and iOS)
Use Red Laser to scour the web from your phone to compare the prices of products across different online retailers. The app allows you to search item names and barcode numbers – but more importantly, you can simply scan an item’s barcode using the camera in your phone and find its price on eBay, Amazon, and other sites. It’s simple, easy-to-use, and a great tool to make sure you never spend more than you need to on a product. However, Shopaholics beware! Red Laser streamlines the process of making purchases directly from your phone, so when you do see those orange bunny slippers on eBay for $2.95, it might be hard not to click “buy.”
Upon launch, critics wondered if Red Laser was ‘fair’ to retailers. In my view, it simply unifies and consolidates the existing resource of internet searching. Advances in technology mean that sales techniques must adjust.
Paypal Mobile – Free (Android and iOS)
For those of us who depend on PayPal for personal and/or business transactions, the app can be an invaluable resource. The straightforward user interface helps you ensure that you pay others and are paid in a timely fashion.
Finally, many banks offer apps which connect with your online banking identity. If you have between one and three accounts, these applications are most likely more practical for you than the ‘umbrella’ apps like Mint.com and EasyMoney would be. The apps offered by Chase and TD Bank (among others) allow you to track deposits and charges (avoid overdraft fees!) and transfer funds between Checking and Savings. No need to print a receipt after a cash withdrawal – your updated balance will appear on your phone. Check to see if your bank offers a bank-specific app.
Ms Fishbein is an 18-year old college student who spent a year studying opera at a top conservatory with much success, but discovered a growing fascination with Economics and Finance. She plans to change majors and pursue entrepreneurial ventures.