The proper management of personal finance is key to economic prosperity. In the old days of manual checkbook balancing, the process was painstakingly slow and oftentimes susceptible to errors. Today, with online banking and the ability to schedule direct debits from your account for virtually every bill, personal finance management has been made exponentially easier.
However, even with this streamlined process, there still remains the risk of error if one fails to monitor their account activity. Many a credit card holder can attest to this fact as we’ve all experienced an unexplainable charge or mistakenly signed up for a service we didn’t want at least once. It’s when those charges go unnoticed over a long period that the cost adds up and the damage to our financial health and credit history is really felt.
So what’s the solution? Well, allocating more time and attention to personal finance and budgeting is the first step. Luckily, in the age of mobile computing via a smartphone, we’re always a login away from our credit cards and bank account information. For the iPhone 4 particularly, there’s an overwhelming amount of personal finance and budgeting apps. These apps are designed to help those with a busy lifestyle, or those who wish for a simpler option, to more easily manage their finances directly from their smartphone.
Given the aforementioned abundance of apps to choose from, after research and time spent using each, the following is a list of the top three budgeting apps for the iPhone 4.
Available for free, Mint.com is a virtual checkbook. Once users setup their account they can add their bank accounts, credit cards and loans. The app then pulls all of the account information and transaction history and collates the information into a graph so users can clearly see where their money is going. Customizable budgets can also be created to better track your finances.
The cons for the app are the fact that certain handy features like the graphs and the ability to view information wireless are limited to iPads. Additionally, there’s a cumbersome feature — which some might like — of adding transactions manually as they occur. More preferable would be a refresh button that automatically syncs your information.
This app is available for $1.99 in the app store. It supports multiple currencies, various accounts and detailed budgets. The app also allows users to schedule recurring transactions like paycheck deposits and debits for utility bills or other various monthly expenses. The report viewing options include pie charts and progress bars, and users are alerted when they’re approaching or exceed budget limits.
Overall the app is quite helpful for budgeting and personal finance given the detailed tracking it offers. Two faults are the cost and, again, the need to enter transactions manually, which is akin to the old days of checkbook balancing.
This app costs a whopping $4.99, but because of the features that’s an easily overlooked point. The app supports multiple currencies and accounts, and sports the standard features like payment alerts, budgeting, a calculator and visual indicators for budgets and related expenses. The app also offers bar charts for expenses and cash flow to better help users track their spending. And because of options like the ability to generate graph reports, store photo receipts, generate expense summaries and track mileage while recording your reimbursement rate, this app is perfect for employees to track their work-related expenses.
The cons are the trap of requiring users to pay for PDF reports at $0.99 each, and the lack of iCloud compatibility for data backup.