How can you track your spending? Personal finance apps.
Back in the day, my mom literally had envelopes stuffed with predetermined amounts of cash in her dresser drawer, each marked with an expense such as “gas” or “groceries.” When the envelope started getting thin, she knew she had to watch her spending until the first of the next month.
It wasn’t a high-tech money management system. But it was easy, and it worked.
Today, we don’t have time for that nonsense. Cash and envelopes and drawers?! Who even carries cash?!
But we still want to manage our money effectively. Well, at least some of us do. And those people can benefit from personal finance apps.
It’s true you can use your credit card statement to track your spending. But this can get complicated or annoying if you use several cards, such as if you are trying to amass points in certain categories like travel or eating out in order to get cash back.
But even if you have just one, the flaw in this plan is that it tells you what you spent last month, not what you have left now, so it can be too late.
The Best Personal Finance Apps 2018
1. Quicken is an old standby your dad might have used. But now they have an app! It allows you to see your spending at a glance at any time. You can look at your budgets, how much you have left to spend and pie charts of what you’re spending.
Transactions are updated constantly, so you don’t have to worry if it’s current. It’s not like a bank transfer, where they tell you it might be three to five days before the change shows up in your account. Quicken is still a bit of a dinosaur, unfortunately.
They got started back when people paid for these types of tools, so they’re charging $119 for what most other companies are giving away. It’s true, they offer more (not all of it is available on the app) so you get a lot, but before you pay, make sure you’ll really use all that.
2. Mint is what people turn to when they get fed up with Quicken. This personal finance app is free, and it outperforms Quicken in many areas. Plus, it doesn’t look dated.
One drawback of Mint that a user mentions is that is doesn’t keep all your transaction records forever. It doesn’t offer as much as Quicken either, but most people just want the basics, and they’re happy with this app.
It offers you a free credit report and you can use it with iOS or Android.
3. LearnVest has a free version, but even the one they charge for ($19.99) is way cheaper than Quicken. You can track your income and expenses, and it doesn’t bog you down with tons of intricate tools you’ll never use.
It also allows you to budget your money and set financial goals. LearnVest has a lot of the features that Mint does, but it schools you in personal finance (hence the Learn) and offers you financial planning services (for a fee).
4. Even if you don’t know what Credit Karma is, you probably have heard of it, because their commercials are everywhere. It’s not really a personal finance app (we didn’t include it in our count) because it doesn’t track spending or allow you to pay bills, but it’s great for managing and repairing your credit so it’s definitely worth mentioning when talking about money management.
Credit Karma is also free and gives you a free credit report. What’s more, they alert you to any changes to your report, which can be really useful. An error on your credit report takes time and effort to correct, and it can seriously affect your finances in the meantime, so you don’t want to find out about it six months down the road.
This app also teaches you what affects your credit score and what you can do to change it. For instance, did you know that having a lot of credit cards can be bad for your credit even if you don’t use them? If you apply for a mortgage and the company sees you have three credit cards that you could potentially charge $75,000 to, this earns you a demerit.
Why? Because they know that at any time you could run up a huge debt that could affect your ability to pay your mortgage.
In fact, some new homeowners make the mistake of buying new furniture and appliances before the closing on the house and then are shocked when the deal falls through — because they just incurred a large debt.
One of our favorite trusted sources, PC World, reviews these and other finance apps to help you decide which one is best for you.
Personal finance apps have been around a while, but an app can be a handy tool for today’s consumer, who is so often on the go. You can keep your finances under control with a money management app — right in your pocket.