When choosing a personal finance app there are a few things you need to know. You need to know which features and design elements make a real difference to the user experience, and which are just incidental. This is especially important when you’ll be using this app many times every day to track your income and expenditure. You also need to understand which features meet your needs, and if the app will suit your device/s.
We’ve examined the range of personal finance apps on the market to identify what you most need to look for when choosing one that’s perfect for your needs.
One of the most important features of any personal finance app is how accurate it is at assessing your financial situation and how easy it is to track your spending so that you always know how much money you do and don't have and how much you owe.
Look for an app that consolidates all your credit cards, bank accounts and accessible savings accounts to show you a complete picture of exactly how much you are in credit—or debit—across your entire life.
In terms of knowing exactly how you are doing financially, the market leader is Mint, partly because it automates a lot of the hassle of tracking spending. Once you link it to your bank and credit card accounts, it automatically tracks every transaction you make. Mint syncs your accounts at least once a day so that you always have an accurate picture of your financial situation. You can update it manually as well to cover cash payments (which it deducts from your last ATM withdrawal). When you access the app on your phone, you’ll see colored tables and graphs that let you know the health of your finances today.
This app also has this feature of syncing with your bank account. The advantage of YNAB is that it clearly breaks down your spending into categories (or ‘envelopes,' to use the app’s lingo) so that you can see if it's your daily Starbucks or your intermittent splurging on shoes that’s making you go over budget. However, YNAB has had a few glitches recently over syncing transactions and lags behind some other apps at automating your expenditure tracking. Expect to have to do a lot more manual logging with YNAB – not necessarily a bad thing, if you want to learn to spend more mindfully.
Simple is an online bank which contains all the tools you need to manage your money directly from your phone or their web application. Simple is your bank account, so there’s no need to sync it with anything else. As well as incorporating tracking tools to keep on top of your spending and clear visuals that present your financial situation at a glance, Simple permits you to carry out all your banking errands within their app, wherever you are. As long as you don’t mind replacing your current bank account with Simple, it’s a wraparound solution.
Keeping track of your finances is a vital first step, but you might also want an app that helps you set goals and encourages you to meet them.
Wally is strong in this category. Like a supportive financial advisor, Wally helps you to achieve your savings aims by visually tracking your progress towards them and keeping you accountable for your spending. It also streamlines the process of logging expenditure by letting you just take a photo of your receipt for the app to scan. Wally then places each purchase into the right category. This saves you the hassle of working out whether last ni