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There's an App for That!

June 02, 2017

6 Tips to Help You Find Your Smartphone Budgeting App

These days I feel like I have an app for everything. Whether I’m grocery shopping, getting directions, or just killing time, I have an app that helps me with all these things. With all that time we spend on our smartphones, why not incorporate them into our budgets? We can no longer use excuses like “I don’t like excel”, “It’s too much work”, or “I don’t have the time”. These apps are quick and easy to use, so tracking how much you spent on that cup of coffee takes less time than playing a game of Angry Birds or checking your Twitter feed.

Luckily for smartphone users, there’s a variety of budgeting apps with a number of different features to meet your needs. Here are some things to consider when looking for a mobile budgeting tool.

  1. Is it available for your phone platform?
    Luckily, most apps can be used on both Apple and Android phones, but it’s always good to start by narrowing your search to apps that are compatible with your phone. Check to see if you can also access the app from your computer or tablet for more flexibility and ease of use.
     
  2. Does the app cost money?
    Some apps are free while others require an initial purchase or subscription fee. If the app costs money, read some reviews to see if it’s worth the value. Or even better, look for a free trial so you can try it out firsthand.
     
  3. What do you want out of your app?
    Do you only want it to record your purchases, or do you want it to keep track of your budget or bank accounts as well? Do you want the ability to customize your budget categories or pay bills? Think about what you are trying to accomplish. Do you want to save more, prevent overspending, or make sure you pay bills on time? Consider how the app and its features will help you achieve these goals. If you can’t find an app that does everything on your list, prioritize what’s important to you when making your final decision.
     
  4. How much do you want to share?
    Some apps require that you provide bank or financial service information. If you want to be able to check your bank balance or have your credit card purchases automatically recorded, then you will need to supply the app with account information. If an app does require you to share this information, do your research to ensure that they have appropriate security and whether or not they share your personal data. If you aren’t comfortable sharing this information, look for an app that allows to you input data manually and doesn’t require this information in order to operate.
     
  5. Does the app allow for multiple users?
    Decide if you want to share the budget app with other members of your household. It’s good to have everyone on the same page, but not everyone likes the same budgeting method. A shared budget can impact relationships in addition to just finances. Try and make the experience positive and ensure everyone involved communicates their financial goals, intensions, and habits.
     
  6. Once selected, are you using the app?
    After a few weeks, re-evaluate your financial progress. Is the app helping you reach your goals, or did you not even open it during the trial period? If you chose a more manual app, did you actually enter the data? Based on how well you did, you can decide if that particular app is for you. If not, don’t worry! Make a list of reasons why you did or did not like the app. Then see if there’s a better option available that incorporates the items on your list. There are plenty of other budgeting apps that can help you achieve your goals.

I wouldn’t suggest downloading multiple budgeting apps at once as it can become frustrating to enter the same data multiple times. Getting started takes time and effort. Don’t get discouraged if you become overwhelmed. Take a break or ask a family member for help so your budget is set up in a way that works for both of you. Remember, adhering to a budget is one of the best ways to help you achieve your financial goals!  

What budgeting apps do you use?

Guest Contributor: Jennifer Grudis Ader AFC®

Image by file name “Budget Blog Photo." Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/mobile-phone-money-banknotes-buy-1595731/

 


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