Right now, I am enjoying the beauties of nature on a mountain somewhere. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this guest post from the folks at RothIRA.com.
Smartphone apps are starting to do for personal finance what GPS systems have already done for finding directions: automating the process and getting your brain out of the equation so you stop forgetting things and messing stuff up.
There are apps to allow you to quickly check all of your financial accounts at once ? and even pull up charts categorizing what types of things you are spending money on. You can get your phone to remind you to pay your bills, and you can keep track of expenses and receipts you need your employer to reimburse later on.
These apps provide the hope that Zen-like liberation may finally be at hand when it comes to keeping track of your budget. And many are also free or only cost a few bucks.
Here are some apps to check out:
Mint.com: The hit money-management website is now an app. Users create an encrypted account, and enter in login information for checking, savings, credit cards, retirement accounts, etc., and then voila! You can keep track with what is going on with all of the accounts at the same time. Mint.com even categorizes expenditures some. It's not perfect, though. It doesn't break out business expenses from personal expenses, for example, and it does not show the vested balance in 401(k) accounts, the amount workers actually take with them when they leave an employer. Mint.com is free, making money by suggesting financial products to you.
MoneyStrands.com: Like Mint, it is an accounts aggregator, and it has a mobile app. MoneyStrands also tracks bills, assigning them color codes to show whether payments have been received. There's also a budget wizard that allows users to construct a 12-month spending plan.
BillTracker: Available for $2.99 on iTunes for use on iPhones, BillTracker allows you to take a bill and track due date, amount due, whether the bill has been paid, confirmation numbers for payments and more. You'll get due date reminders on your phone, and BillTracker get kudos for the ease with which users are able to program reoccurring bills into the app. The closest thing to BillTracker on Android appears to be the $1.99 Easy Bills app.
Xpenser.com: For $9 per month, the mobile app allows users to record work-related expenses on the go. You can even take a picture of a receipt with your phone camera and store it with the records. Xpenser is able to export the information into account programs including QuickBooks and Microsoft Dynamics GP. If your employer's accounting software is compatible, you should be able to effortlessly file your expense reports.
Expensify: Don't want to shell out cash to track work-related expenses? The Expensify app is free for individual users and available on multiple phone formats. It appears to have many of the expense-tracking, receipts-collecting features of Xpenser.com. The company charges for larger corporate accounts, and claims to be in the business of “expense reports that don't suck!”
Kelly Spors writes for RothIRA.com, a leading retirement and Roth IRA resource. A former Wall Street Journal reporter, Kelly has written about small business and personal finance for The New York Times, Entrepreneur magazine, Yahoo! and SmallBizTrends.com.