Our phones do just about everything these days, short of functioning as a wallet. Still, they’re not unlike wallets. We keep them in our pockets or purses, and within them we store quite a bit of personal information. We’re even getting to the point of using them as credit cards (see number four below). Outside of mobile banking apps, there are many ways to use your phone as a personal finance aid.
Keep in mind that all of these apps are free and available on iOS and Android!
Lifehack.org referred to Mint as the Beyoncé of personal finance apps. I would have to agree with them. Most importantly, it’s safe, which is crucial since you sync it to your bank account. Mint allows you to set and categorize your budgets, organize your purchases and even notifies you when a bill is due. My only complaint is that the scroll function makes setting an exact budget somewhat difficult. For instance, if my monthly budget for gas is $100, then I want my app to say $100 on the dot, not $99 or $101. Other than that, Mint is user-friendly, accessible and a great personal finance tool for college students.
This app operates based on the envelope-budgeting system in a digital setting. You set the amounts for your envelopes as you receive your income and it keeps track of your spending. It runs manually, rather than automatically like Mint. Reviewers like that you can sync your account to another person’s, which makes it a good app for people who co-habit. They have a free version and a paid version.
With the PayPal app, you can do everything from your phone that you can online; including managing your account, transferring funds and paying bills. A lot of online businesses operate with PayPal, which means you can even use it for shopping. Unfortunately, not all brick-and-mortar businesses accept it yet. There are no fees for using PayPal to buy goods or services, but there are small fees for receiving money.
Critics generally like this one, or at least the idea of it. It facilitates credit card purchases in stores by producing a QR code that a cashier scans before sending you on your merry way. Like PayPal, not all vendors accept LevelUp payments, but they have a list of accepting locations available to you within the app. Review sites say that the security could be better (apparently your PIN number isn’t required every time the app launches?). Until that improves, it may be wise to hold off on using this particular service.
This app helps you find the cheapest gas prices near you. Whether you’re heading home for a weekend or just topping off to get to and from work this week, GasBuddy is a good friend to have in your phone, indeed. Also, when you report gas prices, you earn points towards being entered in a daily giveaway of a $100 gas card!
If you’re not using Groupon already, I’m sure you’ve heard of it and know somebody who’s used it. It aggregates local deals for restaurants, services, concerts and even vacations, and brings them right to your phone. It’s great for experiences in general, especially ones that are new to you, such as sky diving or a trip to the shooting range.
I once bought a year’s subscription to the Boston Review for $10 through LivingSocial. Considering that one year of print issues typically costs $25, that’s a pretty good deal. Groupon and LivingSocial are very similar in the sense that they both aggregate local deals for you. LivingSocial appears to get more usage in New England and the southeast coast of the US, while Groupon appears to be the preferred daily market app everywhere else. I tend to notice smaller businesses on LivingSocial than Groupon, but that might be because I live in suburbia.
Do you manage your finances digitally? Share your favorite personal finance mobile app in the comments below!