Free financial sites and apps
Modern Methods to Manage Your Money
April 16, 2014 by Mark Dye
It used to be that you had to track your spending and savings by hand in a checkbook ledger or spreadsheet. Then came computer programs like Quicken and Excel that made (and continue to make) it much easier, even if they are only as good as the info you enter. Now, with the advent of smartphones and high-speed Internet and online banking, managing you cash flow has become even easier.
Here are a few apps and sites that can help you use technology to keep on top of your finances. (Note that all apps listed are available for both Apple and Android devices.)
- Mint.com—This free-to-use website is owned and run by Intuit, the makers of Quicken, and offers a companion app that, unfortunately, is not full featured—it works in conjunction with the site, not in place of it. It requires you to share your banking information, such as account numbers, logins and passwords, so it can sync up and provide you with basically real-time data. This makes it easier to manage because you don’t have to enter in every purchase and deposit. It is by far the highest rated of the money management apps by those in the industry and users alike.
- Check—This free app goes a bit farther than Mint in that it lets you pay bills through it, sends alerts and warnings if you have a late payment or possible overdraft, and even flags suspicious activity. Like Mint, it requires you to enter your financial information, but also includes things like investments (which Mint does not). It also runs on Windows and Blackberry phones.
- One Receipt—This is less of a budgeting app and more of a spending tracker for both offline and online purchases. You sync it to your email account (at this time, Gmail and Yahoo! are the only providers it supports) and it then scans to find receipts. You can also input the old-fashioned paper kind if needed. One neat feature is the ability to go through analytics, which allows you to analyze patterns and even see where you reduced spending.
- Slice—If you do a lot of online shopping, this app is for you. You give it access to your email accounts (from Gmail to iCloud) and it scans and imports the receipts it finds. This will provide you with a complete list of all your purchases…if you kept the email receipts, that is! One of the more unique features of Slice is shipment tracking: it will tell you what the purchase contained, when it shipped, and its location on a map during shipping.
- Level Money—If you just need a simple spending and savings tracker, then this is your app. It’s similar to others in that you share your banking and financial info, but differs in its presentation: it gives you a “money meter” in the form of a “bubble” that empties as you spend money. The theory is that this visual will help you envision your cash being drained away as you spend, thus encouraging you to save. It does offer bill reminders and savings trackers, but none of the robust features of other apps.
Which of these is right for you just depends on your circumstances: Do you want super-detailed tracking of everything from credit cards to retirement accounts? Or just a general idea of how much you’re spending and where? Thankfully, these apps are all free so you can try them without worrying about losing your money. In fact, one of them might be just the thing to help you save some cash along the way.