Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Does the stress of money (or lack thereof) keep you up at night? Never really sure where all of your money goes? I’ve got some good news for you: you aren’t alone and you aren’t doomed… yet.
Bad money habits can lead to a lifetime of insurmountable debt. On the other hand, if you nip the problem in the bud, not only is it possible for you to get out of debt fast, but also to have more money than you’ve ever had. All of this is possible while maintaining the same income!
But learning how to manage your money isn’t always easy because it can feel quite abstract and theoretical. That’s why you need the following personal finance apps.
With real numbers in front of you, you’ll quickly see how a few lifestyle tweaks can drastically flip around your money situation, eliminate all of your money leakages, and lead to a future of financial stability.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one personal finance app, Expense IQ is one of the top contenders. Its primary function is to be an expense tracker (as implied by the name), but also includes a bill reminder feature and several features for budget planning.
On first launch, you’ll be asked to set up your preferred currency and your preferred reminder frequency for inputting expenses. Unlike apps like Mint — which we’ll cover later — Expense IQ doesn’t automatically pull transactions from your banks and credit cards. You have to input transactions manually.
Some people like that. Others don’t. It’s really up to you. But if you’re diligent about it, you’ll be able to see exactly where all of your money goes, which is the first step towards plugging your money leaks.
The interface is interesting, to say the least. Expense IQ employs a flat design that’s reminiscent of Microsoft’s Modern UI but also incorporates elements of Android’s Material design. I think it looks great. Your mileage may differ.
With Expense IQ, you can manage multiple accounts (both personal and business) and you get access to interactive reports and graphs for each account. Other features include syncing through Dropbox, exporting data in CSV and QIF formats, and an integrated checkbook manager.
Let’s say that you know you’re an overspender. The problem is that overspending is all you know how to do. Is there an app that can help? There sure is! In fact, Mvelopes was developed for people in your exact position.
The concept of “envelope budgeting” is simple. Each month, you fill a handful of labeled envelopes with money (e.g. envelopes for “Clothing”, “Restaurants”, “Books”, “Steam Game Sales“, etc) and whenever you want to buy something, the money must come from the relevant envelope.
If there isn’t enough money, you can’t buy it. If there’s leftover money at the end of the money, it rolls over to the next month. Each month, you replenish a certain amount to each envelope according to your budget.
The goal of all of this is to help you be more conscious with your spending. When you have $100 per month allotted for entertainment, it makes you second guess whether or not you really want to watch the latest movie release. Maybe that money would be better spent on new camping gear instead.
Mvelopes is the mobile version that makes envelope budgeting easier than it’s ever been. Attention all overspenders: this app is your savior. (As long as you take it seriously.)
I’m a huge fan of Mint. For those who don’t know, Mint is an app that automatically pulls data from your banks, your loans, your credit cards, etc. and aggregates all of that information in one convenient location. I can’t think of an easier way to manage money.
The automatic transaction tracking is the killer feature here. Even if you rarely spend money, the fact that you don’t have to track your expenses frees up a lot of mental energy that could be more productive on other tasks. Just launch Mint once a day and you’ll know where you stand.
Each transaction that Mint detects is categorized, which is great because Mint also allows you to set up a monthly budget of how much you intend to spend in each category. This is a fantastic way to keep your finances in check.
If you connect your loans and credit cards, Mint will remind you when payments are due. Another helpful feature for building a better mindset is financial goals (e.g. get out of debt). Mint will track your progress and show it visually, which can help with motivation.
Want to learn more? Check out our overview of using Mint to save money. The mobile app is just an extension of Mint’s web interface.
Disclaimer: In order to use the You Need A Budget app for Android, you’ll need to have a valid copy of You Need A Budget for desktop computers. It costs $60 for a license and will work on both PC and Mac. There is a 34-day free trial in case you’re interested.
You Need A Budget (YNAB) is an expense tracker and budget planner in the same class as both Expense IQ and Mint mentioned above. You must enter transactions manually, but even so, it’s incredibly easy and convenient to use. Seriously, you won’t regret purchasing it.
Start off by creating a few expense categories — like Fuel, Restaurants, Rent, etc. — and assigning monthly budgets to each. Adding a transaction takes just a few seconds and YNAB will automatically update all of its statistics and logs based on what you enter.
The interface is extremely clean, sleek, and minimal. No element is distracting, nothing gets in the way. Money management is all it cares about and it won’t even take you a month to see just how valuable this app can be for your finances.
Data is synced automatically between the app and the desktop program as long as an Internet connection can be established by both.
You’re probably tired of all these apps for tracking expenses and making budgets, but here’s one more. It’s the last one, I promise. BillGuard was promoted as one of the best apps in 2014, so you’d do well to pay a bit of attention to this one.
In terms of transaction updates, BillGuard offers a hybrid approach. It automatically pulls data from your accounts so you don’t have to input them manually, but gives you the freedom to verify each transaction before they’re entered into the system.
Not only does this put you in full control, but it also makes you encounter every purchase that you’ve made. For overspenders, the act of transaction verification can help bring to light how much you’re actually spending.
BillGuard also has an incredible interface that’s simple yet visually intuitive. At a glance you can see how much you’re spending in each category, making it easy to determine where you can cut out unnecessary spending and save more money.
So why is it called BillGuard? It will alert you on suspicious charges detected on your account. If the charge is unauthorized, you can dispute it from right inside the app.
Math plays a big role in personal finance. I actually like playing with numbers so I don’t mind it that much, but I know most people shudder when they have to deal with budgets, interest, taxes, etc. That’s why you should install Financial Calculators.
This wonderful app comes equipped with 18+ different calculators that are designed to handle a wide variety of financial situations. For example:
The Loan Calculator takes a loan amount, interest rate, and term length to calculate how much you’ll actually spend to pay off that loan. It’s meant primarily for mortgage loans, but can be used for any kind of simple loan. It can also compare two different loan terms.
The Compound Interest Calculator takes a principal amount, monthly deposit amount, a period length, and an annual interest rate to determine how much you’ll earn through compound interest gains.
The ROI Calculator takes an initial investment amount, the ending investment amount, and term length to calculate what your return-on-investment was.
This is just a small taste of what this app offers. Rather than scrambling across the web to find the proper calculator for a given situation, just install this app and it’ll come in handy regardless of your situation.
Investing shows up as Stocks, Forex, Gold & Futures in the Play Store but will install as Investing, so that’s what we’ll call it. It’s the official app created by the folks over at Investing.com, so rest assured that this app is legitimate.
Investing pulls real-time data on stocks, bonds, ETFs, commodities, forex, indices, futures, and even Bitcoin. If there’s an investment market that you’re interested in, Investing has you covered. That’s pretty much what it boils down to.
They also provide an Economic Calendar where you can view financial events from around the world in real time, a portfolio where you can track changes for specific financial instruments, and expert advice for financial trading.
New to investments? Don’t be scared! It’s not as hard as you think. Get started with these YouTube channels that teach how to invest money. You’ll be up and running in no time.
Now You’re Prepared for Success
Let’s take a step back and make one thing clear: an app isn’t going to make you successful. Success depends on your mindset and your perseverance. However, these apps can surely help you pinpoint your shortcomings and develop the right attitude.
That’s how you should use these apps. They aren’t magic. They aren’t shortcuts. They’re tools. And like all tools in the world, they’ll only be as good as the one wielding them.