A guest post from Julia Peterson -
Get your finances in order and keep them that way with these simple tools
It’s amazing how much further your money can go when you plan it out ahead of time. If a smartphone fits in your budget, these apps can help you set firm goals and stick to them. We’ve checked out the cream of the crop, based on price, features, and simplicity; here are the very best budgeting apps on the market today, for iPhone and Android devices.
1. Mint (Android, iOS)
Mint is, in our opinion, the best personal finance app for either iPhone or Android. Like most apps, it allows you to track and categorize your expenses, but the real selling point of this app is the visual aids—progress bars that fill as you approach (or exceed) your budget for various categories, and a pie chart displaying where your money is going—both of which can be a very persuasive argument for sticking to a budget, or reevaluating your expenses. It also compares your monthly budget with how far along you are in the month—so if your fast food budget is almost full, and it’s only the 10th, it can help you notice the need to reconsider things. You can sync it with your checking, savings, credit cards, investment accounts, and lenders to get a complete picture of your personal finances, as well as setting long-term goals. The only major downside is that the app doesn’t have the full functionality of the Mint.com browser service, and the app offers “advice” (sales pitches) based on your expenses. (Cost: free)
2. Money by Jumsoft (iOS)
This is a somewhat fancier app, with a higher price tag and a more complex interface; but the effort it takes to learn the app is a worthwhile investment. You can make more complex budgets, schedule monthly transactions, and even create business budgets if you’re self-employed. Otherwise, it is very similar to Mint—attractive graphs, trend analysis, and bill scheduling to keep you on top of your expenses. Because of the price, limited availability (you have to buy the app separately for your iPhone and iPad), and confusing user interface, it’s number two on our list; but still a great option for Apple fans. (Cost: $1.99)
3. Pageonce (Android, iOS)
This app is great for managing your bills, because instead of just tracking your expenses and obligations, Pageonce actually allows you to pay your bills through the app itself. Like Mint, it allows you to sync to your banking services, so you don’t have to input all entries yourself. (Some sync errors have been reported on Android devices; HTC users may still have trouble, but the errors are confirmed fixed on LG and Samsung phones). It also shows more specific, narrow breakdowns of the bills you pay each month, so you can see which bills are eating up more than their share of your income. The app is free, and if it weren’t for the $0.30 service fee for each bill you pay through the app, this one might be our #1 or #2 pick. (Cost: free)
4. Moneywise (Android)
This app was rated “The Best Budget-Tracking App for Android” this year by LifeHacker; and while we might not go that far, it’s definitely a contender. One of the advantages it has over Mint is a better ability to visualize changes over time—Mint can do that on its browser service, but not on the app. It also supports multiple currencies, for users outside the US, or those who do a lot of international transactions. It certainly isn’t as pretty as other apps, and requires a great deal more user input than Mint or Jumsoft, but if you like that hands-on experience of balancing your own checkbook, this is a great option. (Cost: free)
Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.