With budgeting, half the battle is getting organized. For some, the pen and paper method works just fine, while for others spreadsheets are more efficient and practical. Then, there are those who are always on the go and if you are one of these people, you probably know that pens, papers and spreadsheets are tough to keep up with. Luckily, your smartphone can present you with a more efficient game plan. If you haven't explored the world of budgeting apps yet, here are some places to start.
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
1. Mobile Banking
If you think that online banking
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has been the best thing for your budget, think again. Banks have reinvented the wheel with mobile options that allow you to check your account balance and recent transactions. Mobile apps can also help you pinpoint nearby ATMs. Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo are three banks that have free mobile apps, so check with your bank to see whether there is an option for you. Mobile banking apps are available for both iPhone and Android platforms.
This iPhone app costs 99 cents, but it is a practical option that takes the guess-work out of tipping. If you're the type of person who has trouble deciding how much to tip, this app might be for you. Keep in mind, however, that many of this app's features are achievable through your phone's calculator (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are what you need). It's up to you to decide whether Tipulator is worth the money.
If you spent years balancing a paper checkbook, adapting to new interfaces might be tough for you. If this sounds like you, check out the Financer app, which turns the screen of your phone into a checkbook ledger. You can track your spending from multiple bank accounts while maintaining a record of your deposits and withdrawals. Financer costs $1.99.
4. Loan Shark
If you're buying a car or are out shopping for anything that requires a loan, Loan Shark can be helpful. When you're out and about, it's tough to shop for competitive interest rates, but Loan Shark helps to streamline this process. For instance, you can research how much an extra payment will cost you over time, compare up to nine loans and search through nearby banks for the best rates. Loan Shark costs $4.99.
5. Grocery iQ
This app helps to streamline your grocery store errands. It is a versatile app that is available for Android, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad platforms. The app allows you to quickly and easily create grocery lists that you can manage online. Grocery iQ is available for free.
6. Key Ring
Your store club cards should be an important part of your budgeting process since rewards programs frequently come with coupons and savings opportunities. Unfortunately, it's tough to keep all of these cards in one place. Keyring is an app that helps to organize your rewards cards in one digital place. It is available for both iPhone and Android - and it's free.
This app can help you manage your car payments, subscriptions and utility bills from one place. It lets you synchronize your payment due dates with your calendar so that you can easily see what you need to pay and when those payments are due. BillTracker costs $1.99 at the iTunes store and is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad interfaces with iOS 3.0 or higher.
The Bottom Line
It takes significant time and effort to effectively manage your money, but your iPhone can help streamline the process. Make the most out of your waiting room or down time by giving yourself the ability to manage your money while on the go. When you're deciding whether to pay for an app, think about whether the benefits will outweigh the drawbacks. For instance, you might want to assess whether you will end up saving more than what you're paying upfront for the app. Pick and choose different apps to achieve a balance of resources that work well for you.