Spending tracker for those on-the-go

Spending Tracker

I’ve never really done a tax return before, as I didn’t have the need to, a scholarship not needing to be taxed. However, since one seems to be looming on the horizon recently since I started my new job which has meant that one job has to be outside of the tax-free bracket, the time seems right to start being a responsible individual keeping track of all my expenses.

Ruben prefers a desktop app solution, where he uses GnuCash, and while intrigued about the small-yet-powerful application, there’s more of a chance of me keeping up-to-date records if it’s on a device that is not only convenient but one that I use frequently.

For some it might be a MacBook Air, but failing that it certainly is my phone for me, and I explored a few apps in the past week to see which one could suit my needs. One that I came across and suits my needs at the present time is Spending Tracker.

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Touting itself as “the easiest and most user friendly Personal Finance App in the store”, I do think that it lives up to its claim fairly well in being quite intuitive in the way that the others apps which I tried were not. If I can work it out while being half asleep, then I’m sure that anyone can.

The app has two main interfaces, Spending, and Transactions, with additional options to customise your Categories and change other settings such as adding ‘accounts’.

Spending Interface

Spending looks a lot less iOS7 inspired with its attempts to make it look like handwriting on a blackboard, but tells you your income, and your expenses grouped together in the categories that the app originally came with or you have set (under the Categories menu). You can change the view to be monthly, yearly or weekly according to your tastes, but I prefer to have a month to month view, personally.

Transfers between your accounts are also shown on the Spending interface, but aren’t counted as income. Thus this greatly impacts the ‘health indicator’ at the top of the interface, with green clearly indicating a more healthy spending pattern, i.e. not going over budget.

As a bonus there are easy buttons to add expenses and income though, which is handy to quickly jot down your spendings while on the go. I can input the amount spent to pay for my ticket as I wait the short few minutes between arriving on the platform and getting on the train for instance, so it helps in being extremely up to date.

Transactions Interface

The Transactions interface definitely has more of an iOS7 feel, and keeps track of all the transactions you have made in detail. You can also go back here and edit any of the transactions — that was a problem I found in some other applications where I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to edit transactions I had entered before for some reason. This doesn’t seem to make sense, as it is easy to make mistakes, but as I said, I was half asleep at the time.

As a bonus you can also set up recurring payments, such as a phone bill if you’re on a plan like me, so I it appears as an expense automatically. You can hide future transactions, but I like to have mine on to remind me, and having it sorted by date keeps it at the top — although this doesn’t include the time, unfortunately.

To do transfers is a little more difficult though, as it isn’t done through the Transactions screen, but rather in Settings, in Accounts. You can choose to do a transfer then, which will move money from one account to another, so I can also keep track of the bank transfers which I do.

Other features

The app also has reporting features, with a pie chart of expenses and a chart of cashflow if you change the orientation of your phone, but I personally haven’t looked too much into it yet. It looks like it could be interesting in visualing your expenses better though.

My only issue with the app so far is that rolling into April, the carry-over amounts have unfortunately been wrong, which means that I had to go in and manually change it. I don’t know if this could have an impact if I changed to viewing my expenses by year instead of by month. At the moment, it still works accurately.

This app suits my needs perfectly at the present time, as I don’t have a set budget and merely want to keep track of all my money’s incomings and outcomings to get a better picture of all that I need to, or do, spend my money on. Perhaps in the future, it may suit my needs less, and thus I am also looking into other apps in the meantime, but I do think it is a solid application though, despite the fact it may not be as powerful as a desktop app like GnuCash.

My only concern is that I don’t really know what the in-app purchase of a Pro Upgrade really gives me that is different from the free app, so I am reluctant to upgrade at present despite it only being a few dollars in reality. Anyone got a better picture for me?