10 smartphone apps that can help track your expenses
- 27 September, 2012 10:17
When you're traveling for business, keeping track of your expenses can be a hassle. But it doesn't need to be. Thanks to expense tracking apps, you can now stay on top of your finances as you go along.
While almost all expense tracking apps will allow you to manually enter your incoming and outgoing transactions, additional features can vary widely. Some apps come with handy receipt scanners that auto-extract receipt information, while others allow you to synchronize your financial data with your credit card and/or bank accounts. Exporting expense reports is another common feature; some apps let you save to other formats, such as Excel, QuickBooks or PDF, while others let you sync with cloud storage services like Dropbox.
While the simpler apps tend to be free, the more comprehensive ones, including those that are destined for more than one user, usually charge either a one-time or a recurring fee.
What follows are our evaluations of 10 expense tracking apps for Android and iOS devices. (Some are available for multiple platforms.) Whatever your needs, if you find the right app, you'll end up saving time and money -- and giving your company's accountants and/or the IRS all the expense information they need.
--Isabel Eva Bohrer
$5.99 OS reviewed: Android Other OSes: None
For users who need advanced features, Cashbook Expense Tracker offers a slew of robust options in a polished and easy-to-use interface.
Cashbook Expense TrackerClick to view larger image.
Cashbook, available for $5.99 (there is no free trial version, unfortunately), lets you log expenses via an "Add Transaction" option on its main menu. Once you select that option, you fill in a form with a variety of data, including a category -- you can pick from a list of commonly used categories such as "Meals" or add your own -- the amount of money spent and any remarks you wish to add.
Cashbook automatically fills in the current date and time for you. The app also provides an option to snap a photo of your receipt and have it stored with the record.
The app can even handle mileage: Cashbook uses GPS to determine the amount of time and distance you travel, then records that information along with your starting and stopping address.
Cashbook allows you to export your expense reports as CSV, Quicken or HTML files and send them to any sharing-capable service on your Android device -- email, Gmail or even services like Dropbox or Google Drive, if you have them configured. It has tools for generating charts and diagrams, too, as well as an integrated calculator.
$2.99 OS reviewed: iOS Other OSes: None
Expenditure provides a simple and intuitive interface for recording both expenses and income. Adding a new transaction is fast and easy: Enter the amount and select whether it is an expense (red button) or income (green button). If your transaction takes place in a different currency, the app can convert it for you, a feature that is particularly useful for business travelers.
ExpenditureClick to view larger image.
On the next screen, you can add further details, including categories (the defaults include Electronics, Travel and Gifts, among others), the date (automatically set to today, but you can modify it if you wish) and whether it is a repeating transaction; you can also add a photo or a note. There is no receipt scanner, but the app makes the process of entering a transaction so quick and easy that I found just adding a photo sufficed.
Transaction details are then shown on what looks like a paper receipt roll. Deleting a transaction has a fun aspect to it -- you pull down on the screen as if pulling the paper off a receipt roll. The app then asks you if you want to delete the transaction.
The home screen always displays your remaining funds; if you want, you can sort transactions by most expensive categories, most expensive months and recent transactions. You can also attach selected transactions to an email in CSV format via the Settings button.
In short, Expenditure is a fast, simple and useful app that tracks both income and expenses. Its intuitive interface is ideal for individual users.
--Isabel Eva Bohrer
Free (ad-supported); $4.99 for Pro version (ad-free) OS reviewed: Android Other OSes: None
Expense Manager aims to make mobile expense management easy while still providing advanced features.
Expense ManagerClick to view larger image.
The app has large, clear buttons for adding new expenses or incomes on its main menu. When you add an expense, Expense Manager gives you fields in which you fill in data such as the amount, payee and payment category. The program provides you with a list of commonly used vendors and category terms that you can select with a couple of taps (you can add your own quick-select items into the lists as well).
Expense Manager has an "auto fill" feature with which you can create prepopulated templates for commonly used expenses. You can create repeating transactions, too, if you have a regularly recurring expense that you'd like to automate.
It has plenty of other bells and whistles, like multiple account support, photo-storing capabilities, and a series of home screen widgets ranging from 1 x 1 to 4 x 3 in size.
Its only real weakness is design -- specifically, the fact that some basic commands are buried and difficult to find. To export data, for example, you have to first tap "View Account Activities" on the main menu and then go into an overflow menu in order to get to the function.
Expense Manager could do with a design refresh to unearth some of these hidden functions and better conform with Android 4.x design standards, but in terms of actual functionality, it's at the top of its game.
Free OS reviewed: iOS Other OSes: Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Palm
Expensify, the mobile app for the online service Expensify.com, allows you to track a variety of expenses.
ExpensifyClick to view larger image.
Cash expenses, such as services paid by the hour, can be entered manually or using the SmartScan feature, which uses optical character recognition (OCR) to read and input the merchant name, transaction date and amount. You are allowed ten free SmartScans per month; after that, each SmartScan costs 20 cents.
It's a great idea; unfortunately, I had a great deal of trouble trying to get SmartScan to work. Given that SmartScans can take up to ten minutes even if they do work, it's good that there's an alternative: you can instead email your receipts to email@example.com to have them OCRed at no charge.
Mileage expenses can be recorded automatically via GPS (but remember that leaving your GPS on can significantly decrease your battery life). I really liked the fact that you can use the app offline, making it useful when you're away from a broadband connection.
You can also track purchases made using cash, a bank account or a credit card -- Expensify accepts credit cards from a variety of major banks as well as smaller, regional banks. To allow the app to add a card or bank account, you have to first register your card's online ID and password. The app will then automatically import your expenses paid via that account and generate eReceipts; according to Expensify, these are "full digital replacements of their paper equivalents for purchases under $75."
There are a number of features that can only be used with the online version of the service. For example, to delete a saved credit card/bank account, change the mileage rate or enable SmartScans, you will have to go to your settings at Expensify.com.
All in all, if you want to track purchases made with cash, credit card and or bank account, Expensify is a good option.
--Isabel Eva Bohrer
Free for up to 3 clients, uses branded emails; $19.95/month for up to 25 clients and unbranded email; $29.95/month adds unlimited clients; $39.95/month adds team features OS reviewed: iOS Other OSes: None
FreshBooks provides cloud-based accounting services for small business owners and freelancers who must deal with clients. The iPhone app allows you to track expenses, invoices and client information, log hours in list and calendar format, manage projects, send price quotes and convert them to invoices, receive expense reports and more.
FreshBooks Cloud AccountingClick to view larger image.
The steps are easy to follow and are displayed in a visually appealing manner. Once you're logged in, you track expenses by entering the amount, attaching an optional photo of a receipt and adding taxes. You can then also add a category, the client name, vendor, date and any additional notes. Once you have assigned an expense to a specific client, you can convert the expense to an invoice and send it via email, snail mail or view it as a PDF. FreshBooks also integrates with PayPal, which you can then select as a payment method on the invoice.
FreshBooks is a comprehensive and easy-to-use expense-tracking app that offers a number of other useful features besides.
Free OS reviewed: Android Other OSes: None
If simple and frill-free expense tracking is what you need, Hello Expense is just the app for you.
Hello ExpenseClick to view larger image.
The free Android utility makes it easy to store expense info on the go. When you open the application, you're greeted with a plain black-and-white form with a small handful of fields: the date, the expense category, the expense amount and any memo or tags you wish to add.
A button at the bottom of the screen lets you view your collected expenses by category, day, week, month or year. The Settings menu (accessible via the overflow menu) includes the option to export your records as a CSV or Quicken file to either your device's storage or email. (The latter option actually allows you to send the data to any sharing-capable application on your device.)
The only heavy lifting involved with Hello Expense is a one-time initial setup: The app doesn't have any preset categories or tags, so you'll need to take a few minutes to create your own lists of terms before you begin.
If you need advanced functions like chart generation, receipt capturing or multiple account support, you'll want something more robust than Hello Expense. But if quick, basic recording and exporting is all that's on your agenda, Hello Expense's simplicity is an asset you're bound to cherish.
Free (ad-supported); $6.99 for Pro version (ad-free, additional features such as multiple account management and the ability to create recurring transactions) OS reviewed: Android Other OSes: None
MoneyWise combines a minimalist design with some powerful functionality. The app utilizes Google's Android 4.x design standards to create a clean and intuitive interface that's a true pleasure to use.
MoneyWiseClick to view larger image.
Inputting expenses into MoneyWise is simple as can be: You fill in a description, select a category, add any tags you want and type in the amount. The process is refreshingly clear and uncluttered compared to some of other advanced expense-tracking apps, which tend to get a bit complex in their attempts to cram in features.
Make no mistake about it, though: MoneyWise can do plenty. The app has functions for generating charts and graphs; it can also track budgets and create regular backups on your device's storage. MoneyWise can export data in CSV or HTML formats; that data can then be sent via email or to any sharing-capable Android app.
30-day trial; after that, prices vary according to number of users, number of receipt scans and other factors. Individual subscriptions start at $28.70 a year while business subscriptions (which includes QuickBooks sync) start at $9/month. OS reviewed: iOS Other OSes: Android, BlackBerry
ProOnGo is very specifically a business app -- it allows small business owners to track both employees' expenses and clients' payments via a mobile app and a Web application.
ProOnGoClick to view larger image.
Each user categorizes her expenses into one of four types: regular, mileage, billable time and time expenses based on a calendar entry. Regular expenses can be entered manually or via a handy receipt scanner, which auto-extracts the vendor, date and total amount. Those handling large numbers of receipts will be glad to know that you can bulk upload receipts via email.
Mileage expenses can be added by GPS or entered manually via the odometer function. The reimbursement rate can easily be modified to be per mile or per kilometer, making it useful for travels abroad.
Each employee can also add payments made by clients. The amount paid needs to be entered manually, and you can add categories, type (e.g., business or personal), client name, payment method, items, classes, the date and a memo.
Based on the income and expense data, the app can generate bar, line and pie graphs, as well as create reports in Excel, CVS or XML. Syncing with either the Web or the desktop version of QuickBooks is similarly easy. Importing credit card transactions, however, will require that you log in at ProOnGo.com.
All in all, whether you are a manager tracking the expenses of your employees, or an employee whose expenses need to be approved, this app will help you do so quickly and easily.
--Isabel Eva Bohrer
$4.99; a free trial version allows entry of up to 10 receipts. HD version available for iPad. OS reviewed: iOS Other OSes: None
Receipts Pro lets you separate expenses into different accounts (e.g., business versus personal); within each account, you can divide expenses by categories (e.g., mileage, equipment, etc.). When adding a new receipt, the app allows you to enter up to eight custom fields, including the date, notes and whether the expense is recurring.
Receipts ProClick to view larger image.
Unfortunately, while you can add a photo, there is no receipt scanner, but Receipts Pro does enable you to add a voice note, a feature that few other expense-tracking apps provide. Once you have entered your expenses, the app can generate graphs of your expenditures. You can export and share Excel, PDF or CSV reports via email, iTunes, Box, CloudApp, Dropbox, Evernote or Google Docs directly from the app.
The fact that the app comes with optional password protection is ideal, and those traveling for business will appreciate that expenses in any currency can be added and are automatically converted to your home currency.
--Isabel Eva Bohrer
Free; $19.99/year for Pro version adds additional data formats and features like the ability to use multiple budgets and create extra graphs online. OS reviewed:AndroidOther OSes:iOS, Symbian, Windows Phone, BlackBerry
Toshl Finance Expense Tracker manages to maintain a user-friendly design while also packing in a wide range of impressive options.
Toshl Finance Expense TrackerClick to view larger image.
The first time you use Toshl, you have to create an account by providing an email address and password. That account is then used to automatically back up your data at regular intervals to Toshl's own servers; as a result, you can access your data using the app from any mobile device or even access it from any computer by simply signing into Toshl's website.
Toshl's design is clean and simple to use. The main screen has an "Expenses" tab for viewing and adding expenses, a "Tags" tab for managing tags used to categorize your items and a "Budget" tab to input any budgetary guidelines for your spending.
When you add a new expense, Toshl pops up a full-screen calculator with large keys in order for you to enter the amount. Once you key in the number, you're taken to a second screen on which you can assign a tag to the item -- either one you've already created or a new one you type in right then -- and opt to make the expense recurring if you want.
Toshl can export your data as a CSV file and send it via email. The app also can export data in XLS, PDF, or Google Docs format, but those options are available only if you upgrade to a Pro account.
Read more about mobile apps in Computerworld's Mobile Apps Topic Center.
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