Use mobile technology wisely to help you master your money.
If you’re like most people, you don’t leave home without your mobile technology. If you have a smart phone or an iPad, you can download very inexpensive or free mobile applications or “apps” designed for your type of device. Need to track your budget on the go? There’s an app for that. Want to find a coupon while you’re shopping? Oh yes, there’s an app for that, too. In this article I’ll tell you about a few of the most popular personal finance apps, what they do, how much they cost, and how to use them wisely.
What Are the Best Personal Finance Apps?
I’ll start by reviewing two excellent financial apps that do something called “account aggregation.” If you’re not familiar with account aggregation, it’s a technology that collects the data from your various online accounts and reports it in one place. It automatically pulls up-to-the-minute transactions from Web sites where you’re already registered, such as your bank, credit card, brokerage, or auto lender, for example. Aggregation is really handy because it eliminates the need for you to log into multiple online accounts to see your transactions and balances. Instead, you can see everything you need on one screen.
Mint.com Personal Finance Apps
One of the best aggregation apps is from Mint.com. Once you create a free account at Mint, you can download their free mobile app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or for Android. The app gives you real time balances and transaction details for each of your accounts. It shows how much you’ve spent in each spending category that you set up, so you know how much money is left in your budget. You can see the performance of your online investments and even add other assets like your home or car value to get a picture of your real-time net worth. The app syncs with your online Mint account, so you can use both the app and the web versions.
Pageonce Personal Finance Apps
Another impressive app that aggregates financial data is from Pageonce at pageonce.com. They’re the largest mobile personal finance service in the U.S. Their app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad is called Pageonce Personal Finance. They also have apps for BlackBerry, Android, and Windows Mobile called Pageonce Personal Assistant. All the apps are free but there’s a premium version with no ads and more functionality that costs $6.99.
The free versions give you real time balances and transaction details for each of your online accounts. You can also get e-mail reminders when your bills are due as well as a variety of non-financial information. Pageonce gives you updates on your cell phone minutes, frequent flier miles, loyalty program points, movies in your Netflix queue, eBay bids, feeds from your social networking accounts, and more! I haven’t tried this app yet, but it sounds incredibly versatile.
HomeBudget Personal Finance Apps
If you’re not comfortable giving up your logon information to an aggregator or you don’t have many online accounts to manage, you might enjoy a simpler app just to track your budget. Apps that don’t automatically aggregate your data require that you enter your information as you go, but that’s generally very easy to do.
Home Budget is an app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad that allows you to track your account balances, bills, and budget. You can create reports, see trends with charts, attach photo images of receipts, and more. The regular version is $4.99, but you can also try out Home Budget Lite for free to see if you like it before buying the paid app.