Look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves is a British proverb. But, it's just not easy to do. Luckily there's a way to help track your spending without fussing with receipts: expense apps on your ever-useful smartphone.
Of all the apps for monitoring spending, one of the hardest to beat is Toshl Finance . Free on iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7, the app is all about making managing personal expenses an easy and almost lighthearted affair. The app's main interface is a simple menu bar at the bottom of the screen. This gives you access to expense data entry, income data entry, a summary screen, a budgeting screen and settings. Toshl lets you tag each expense as you like and maintains a handy display of all your tags for future access. The income entry screen is similar. The summary screen gives you a plain bar chart display of monthly income and expenditures, and a readout of your balance. It also reports on how your balance compares with the previous month and how you're performing against a budget.
A similar but more powerful app is Expensify — also free on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Clearly labeled pages make it straightforward to enter an expense, identify a merchant, tag the entry for later reference and so on. The app also offers you the chance to track your time spent on a project, which could be handy for the selfemployed . If your expenses involve traveling by car, there's a system to enter your mileage, including automatically tracking your journey by GPS.
This app is a mobile interface for the Expensify website , so you need to set up a free account, but you can manage your finances from different devices easily.
Users of Apple devices may prefer the $2 app My Wallet+. It balances an easy-to-use design with some powerful features . Entering expense data is easy, and the app has clever calendar dials to make entering recurring expense information simple. It also delivers its transaction summary data in a neat list of income and outgo above a sum total, similar to the way you may write expenses by hand. If this app has failings, it's that it's a bit pedestrian, and not as quick to interact with as some alternatives.
On Android, the free Easy-Money — Expense Manager app is similar to MyWallet+, with the added options of tracking different accounts (like credit card versus daily spending), measuring spending against different budgets and tracking which bills you've paid. Its plain design is much more text-based than the alternatives, and this may put you off if your interest is in more casual expense tracking.