The month best known for holiday celebrations, parties, and the conscious abandonment of dietary and financial restraint is now in full swing. Two weeks in, we're feeling the figurative weeping of our wallets. And increasingly, we've been asking this of ourselves: Where'd our money go???
We really don't want to deal with that question on January 1, and have the usual but number-less answers for it. So we've come up with this before-the-year-ends resolution: track our personal expenses, down to the last friggin' centavo this Chistmas season.
Before you say it...yes, there are apps for that. Combined with bank records and receipts (paper and digital), a good personal expense tracking app should record and account for every single transaction, and clearly show which are necessary and unneccesary.
The goals: to be aware of how we use our cash, cut the extras, stick to a budget, and save up! We found five free expense tracking apps that you can use if you have the same problem and goals as us.
1) Expense Manager
Simple name for a simple app! Unlike the other free apps on this list, Expense Manager won't ask you to sign up for an account. After downloading from Google Play, you can immediately track income and expenses, set up multiple accounts (with support for the Philippine peso!), create a budget, and schedule regular bills payments. You can also view all input by category/subcategory or designation.
Expense Manager goes the extra mile by offering calculators for world currencies, tips, loans, and interest; and backs data up on Dropbox, Google Drive, and your SD card.
Get it: Free via Google Play
If you prefer something that can track both your personal and professional expenses, Expensify is the app you need. It helps you keep your spending in check through expense recording and categorization, and note if your individual expenses are billable and reimbursible. Expensify also has an onboard SmartScan camera (up to 10 shots) to take photos of your receipts—the app will automatically fill up the merchant name, date, and expense amount for your reports.
Oh yeah, those reports! You can generate an expense report for personal accounting, or an invoice for your clients. And you can even track time worked and hourly rate, the distance you travel to and from the office (or client offices), and flights and trip itineraries for reimbursements.
Wally+ is only for personal expense tracking, but it's the most colorful and among the easiest budget-tracking apps we've seen so far.
If you're using the free and ad-less Android app (like we are) you'll need to register for an account first. It then guides you through adding your expenses (Personal, Social, Family, or Work), account (Checking, Savings, Cash, Loyalty, Credit Card, or Loan), income, and even a savings target. You can also tag friends for specific expenses, review and categorize them to see where you're spending on the most, and check if you're saving enough based on your set target.
Unfortunately, we haven't found a way to export our data yet; and the developers say they're planning to introduce some premium features soon. (Well, they have to make money, too.)
Get it: Free via Google Play
Monefy is another Android-only app with free and full versions, but unlike the other tracking apps here (and similar to Expense Manager), it aims to make you use it as quickly as possible, with minimal frills. No account sign-ups required; just set up your accounts after downloading the app, and input every expense you make, as you make them. The chart at the main interface shows you how much you're spending per (editable) expense category, great for those who prefer visuals more than numbers.
Like the other apps, Monefy can give you spending reports, and export and back up your data. You can also use Dropbox to sync your Monefy data between Android devices, and even use Budget Mode to really reign in your spending.
Get it: Free on Google Play (Full version available for P101)
This app is geared more for people in charge of family/household budgets—and puts the good ol' envelope budgeting system to use. For those who are clueless about this system, it basically requires you to place portions of your monthly earnings into envelopes dedicated to specific expenses.
The goals of this particular system are to keep within the spending limits of each envelope, and to have enough money to cover for planned expenses and unexpected ones. Goodbudget works on the same premise, with the advantage of working across Android and iOS devices as well as on your browser.
Get it: Free via Google Play and iTunes; Pro account also available ($5 or around P240)