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.

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Expensify

Expensify

Price: Free

OS reviewed: iOS

Other OSes: Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Palm

Expensify, the mobile app for the online service Expensify.com, allows you to track a variety of expenses.

Expensify
Expensify Click to view larger image.

Cash expenses, such as services paid by the hour, can be entered manually or using the SmartScan feature, which uses optical character recognition (OCR) to read and input the merchant name, transaction date and amount. You are allowed ten free SmartScans per month; after that, each SmartScan costs 20 cents.

It's a great idea; unfortunately, I had a great deal of trouble trying to get SmartScan to work. Given that SmartScans can take up to ten minutes even if they do work, it's good that there's an alternative: you can instead email your receipts to receipts@expensify.com to have them OCRed at no charge.

Mileage expenses can be recorded automatically via GPS (but remember that leaving your GPS on can significantly decrease your battery life). I really liked the fact that you can use the app offline, making it useful when you're away from a broadband connection.

You can also track purchases made using cash, a bank account or a credit card -- Expensify accepts credit cards from a variety of major banks as well as smaller, regional banks. To allow the app to add a card or bank account, you have to first register your card's online ID and password. The app will then automatically import your expenses paid via that account and generate eReceipts; according to Expensify, these are "full digital replacements of their paper equivalents for purchases under $75."

There are a number of features that can only be used with the online version of the service. For example, to delete a saved credit card/bank account, change the mileage rate or enable SmartScans, you will have to go to your settings at Expensify.com.

All in all, if you want to track purchases made with cash, credit card and or bank account, Expensify is a good option.

--Isabel Eva Bohrer

FreshBooks Cloud Accounting

Shape

Price: Free for up to 3 clients, uses branded emails; $19.95/month for up to 25 clients and unbranded email; $29.95/month adds unlimited clients; $39.95/month adds team features

OS reviewed: iOS

Other OSes: None

FreshBooks provides cloud-based accounting services for small business owners and freelancers who must deal with clients. The iPhone app allows you to track expenses, invoices and client information, log hours in list and calendar format, manage projects, send price quotes and convert them to invoices, receive expense reports and more.

FreshBooks Cloud Accounting
FreshBooks Cloud Accounting Click to view larger image.

The steps are easy to follow and are displayed in a visually appealing manner. Once you're logged in, you track expenses by entering the amount, attaching an optional photo of a receipt and adding taxes. You can then also add a category, the client name, vendor, date and any additional notes. Once you have assigned an expense to a specific client, you can convert the expense to an invoice and send it via email, snail mail or view it as a PDF. FreshBooks also integrates with PayPal, which you can then select as a payment method on the invoice.

FreshBooks is a comprehensive and easy-to-use expense-tracking app that offers a number of other useful features besides.

--Isabel Eva Bohrer

Hello Expense

Alan L

Price: Free

OS reviewed: Android

Other OSes: None

If simple and frill-free expense tracking is what you need, Hello Expense is just the app for you.

Hello Expense
Hello Expense Click to view larger image.

The free Android utility makes it easy to store expense info on the go. When you open the application, you're greeted with a plain black-and-white form with a small handful of fields: the date, the expense category, the expense amount and any memo or tags you wish to add.

A button at the bottom of the screen lets you view your collected expenses by category, day, week, month or year. The Settings menu (accessible via the overflow menu) includes the option to export your records as a CSV or Quicken file to either your device's storage or email. (The latter option actually allows you to send the data to any sharing-capable application on your device.)

The only heavy lifting involved with Hello Expense is a one-time initial setup: The app doesn't have any preset categories or tags, so you'll need to take a few minutes to create your own lists of terms before you begin.

If you need advanced functions like chart generation, receipt capturing or multiple account support, you'll want something more robust than Hello Expense. But if quick, basic recording and exporting is all that's on your agenda, Hello Expense's simplicity is an asset you're bound to cherish.

--JR Raphael

MoneyWise

Handy North

Price: Free (ad-supported); $6.99 for Pro version (ad-free, additional features such as multiple account management and the ability to create recurring transactions)

OS reviewed: Android

Other OSes: None

MoneyWise combines a minimalist design with some powerful functionality. The app utilizes Google's Android 4.x design standards to create a clean and intuitive interface that's a true pleasure to use.

MoneyWise
MoneyWise Click to view larger image.

Inputting expenses into MoneyWise is simple as can be: You fill in a description, select a category, add any tags you want and type in the amount. The process is refreshingly clear and uncluttered compared to some of other advanced expense-tracking apps, which tend to get a bit complex in their attempts to cram in features.

Make no mistake about it, though: MoneyWise can do plenty. The app has functions for generating charts and graphs; it can also track budgets and create regular backups on your device's storage. MoneyWise can export data in CSV or HTML formats; that data can then be sent via email or to any sharing-capable Android app.

--JR Raphael

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