10 smartphone apps that can help track your expenses
If you need to record your expenditures for your company or the IRS, these iPhone and Android apps can make it easier.
Computerworld - 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
For users who need advanced features, Cashbook Expense Tracker offers a slew of robust options in a polished and easy-to-use interface.
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.
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.
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
Expense Manager aims to make mobile expense management easy while still providing advanced features.
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.
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