Financial management is like puberty– it exempts no one. Even the richest man in the world can trip into the deepest bowels of poverty should he neglect his finances. But even not-so-rich people have more resources at hand, primarily due to web services and mobile apps. Ever bought an on-sale item only to end up paying 150 percent of the original price because of overdraft fees or overdue payments? It’s a bit easier to avoid such tragedies with personal finance apps that watch out for such things, helping us modify our behavior according to our budgetary needs.
The rise of the smartphone has ushered with it the promise of making us all a little smarter, with services like personal finance apps helping us stay on top of things. It makes us more aware of the implications of our every financial move, subliminally countering our compulsive spending behavior. If you know it’s bad for you, you’re not going to do it, or at least, think twice before doing so.
A study conducted by comScore reveals that 32.5 million Americans accessed mobile banking information on their devices at the end of Q2 2011 in June. People are becoming more and more aware of the importance of financial management, taking advantage of tools that take on some of the responsibilities on our behalf. It’s a great feeling, knowing entire systems are working in the background to do some of our dirty work. Offloading certain tasks and aggregating important data with app services can really free us to make better decisions in the long run.
Below are some mobile personal finance apps that may be of great use in managing your finances while on the go. Before you hit that shopping mall, be sure to check out one or two of these apps to avoid spoiling your budget.
Intuit GoPayment is a free app and credit card reader for smartphones and tablets– providing easy and inexpensive way to get paid via credit card. Its credit card processing app runs across a wide variety of phones with internet access and integrates easily with mobile credit card swipers.
Pros: All in all, Intuit GoPayment is secure and easy to use. It’s great for people who just want to accept credit card payments, as well as for those running a business.
Cons: Compared to other personal finance apps, its features are a little constricted.
Allows you to organize all your accounts, obtain financial insight, sync multiple devices, track cash spending, and review finances anywhere. This app logs transactions, and organizes budgets and spending with helpful trend charts. Mint Personal Finance will definitely help you save money.
Pros: Mint works almost autonomously, requiring very little intervention. On the whole, it’s still a cool app that’s nifty, intuitive and free.
Cons: It gives away sensitive financial info to third parties (with permission), and you can’t manually change dates on certain transactions, which may spoil your budget according to Mint graphs.
This app automatically organizes and tracks your money from banks, credit cards, bills and investment accounts in a single place. It sends out real-time alerts to remind you of bill due dates and overage charges, as well as prompts you on shady transactions. A recent update lets you pay bills directly from the app.
Pros: Allows you to track your frequent flyer miles, rewards, mobile minutes, text and data usage, simplifying your daily financial transactions.
Cons: It doesn’t have Facebook support, no open platform for third-party apps, and can’t add POP3 e-mail accounts.
This app provides an easy way to keep track of receipts and expenses on the go, giving you better insight of your expenditures. It also generates reports anytime, anywhere, with accuracy and fast turnaround.
Pros: The app works with the Shoeboxed mail service–just stuff receipts and business cards in a giant post-paid envelope and Shoeboxed will organize everything for you.
Cons: Unless you join the main service, you’re only allowed to send in a few receipts at a time.
Wikiinvest ( iOS, Android, Blackberry)
Like many other personal finance apps, Wikinvest does the basics: track, analyze, and manage investments in one place. It gives a clear insight of the inflow and outflow of cash to keep your investments on budget. The app leverages Wikinvest’s proprietary brokerage import technology, boasting simple dashboards and advanced analytics. It designed mainly for users seeking investment advice. A recent update brings Wikinvest to iPad users.
Pros: Offers community analysis on company charts, real-time quotes, and fundamental data. As a crowd-sourced wiki, it’s got a lot of articles and details about companies that you want to know about.
Cons: Since it’s a wiki, the information about companies can be edited by anyone, making it vulnerable to spam or erroneous entries. But rest assured, the information is typically the same as what you’ll find on Wikia, Google Finance, Yahoo and even Wikipedia.
As you can see, there’s a range of personal finance apps suited for your different needs. When it comes to all-around management, Mint is among the most trusted brands and offers a good set of analytics to help you assess and manage all your different types of accounts, from credit cards to investments. Pageonce has taken a big leap forward in adding the ability to pay bills directly from the app, centralizing your action-oriented tasks into a single interface. Wikinvest is a niche app for investors, and has its benefits in the information it provides so you can make an educated decision.
In a reader survey, over 80% of respondents indicated that user interface was the most important factor in using a personal finance app. To that end, Mint still comes out on top, with Pageonce following closely behind. Both have been working to improve usability from an interface perspective, especially Mint, which has undergone several updates since being acquired by Intuit. Pageonce similarly has evolved a great deal over the past two years, with usability on mobile devices as a top priority.