10 Sites and Apps to Help You Track Your Spending and Stick to Your Budget
Tracking your spending can be one of the best things you can do to stay on course financially. By knowing where all of your money is going, you can more effectively budget and easily carve out what expenses can be cut. (See also: 8 Ways to Stop Spending)
As recently as a few years ago, the Internet was flush with sites offering account aggregation, budgeting tools, and other similar services. Over the years, many of those sites went defunct, but the good news is that there are still a number of sites that allow people to see their full financial picture in one place, or at the very least track the money they spend. There's also an increasing number of standalone apps for iPhone, Android, and other platforms that can make it ultra-easy to log where you're money is headed.
Here are 10 such sites and apps that can help you, and many of them are free to test out.
There's a lot that OneReceipt doesn't do. It doesn't aggregate or link to your accounts. It doesn't allow you to set up budgets. It doesn't give you a broad picture of your finances. BUT, it does a great job of tracking every single purchase by allowing you to enter in receipts for the things you buy.
All you need to do is take a picture of a receipt and upload it using a smartphone app or special email address. It will automatically track what you bought, and you get a nice online statement.
Pros: Free. Simple idea, succeeds in tracking spending. Good smartphone app.
Cons: Good at doing one thing, but doesn't help you see your full financial picture.
BudgetTracker allows you to track all of your accounts and enter expenditures, create budgets and calendars, and even compile notes. It's important to note that everything must be entered manually, as there's no linking to online bank accounts. For some people, this could be annoying. But it could be the way to go for those that are security-minded.
Pros: Free, fully featured for tracking spending and budgeting. Available on smartphones and iPad.
Cons: No way to link and import data from online accounts (though some may see this as a positive).
You can get a full picture of your spending on ClearCheckbook's rather elegant dashboard. You can enter expenses and income in a checkbook-like interface and get colorful charts and graphs. (See also: 6 Tips for Organizing Your Finances)
It's also possible to set up bill pay reminders and budgets, all for free. A premium service allows for customizable reports, importing of CSV files, and multiple users.
ClearCheckbook has apps for iOs, Windows, Android, and Blackberry, and anything you enter will sync in the cloud.
Pros: Comprehensive view of finances, robust roster of apps, cloud syncing.
Cons: Some features aren't free. (Premium plans run from $4/month to $42/year.)
4. The Birdy
The Birdy free plan allows you to record purchases and see spending graphs, or for $4.95/month you can can also track income and set budgets. Entering purchases can be done via email or even Twitter (which seems a bit scary, frankly).
Pros: Ability to record purchases via email, text, or Twitter. Effective in tracking spending.
Cons: Only basic service is free. Budgeting and other services cost $4.95 monthly.
5. Check (formerly Pageonce)
The strength of Check is in its bill paying capabilities. The app will send a reminder when a bill is due, and then you can pay with one click or manually schedule a payment for later. Check just got another $24 million in financing, so don't be surprised if you see new features and capabilities down the road. (See also: How to Set Up Automatic Payments)
Pros: Free, simple interface. Easy way to avoid late fees on bills.
Cons: No web-based or desktop version. Strength is in bill paying, not tracking spending.
TheExpenseTracker is one of the slicker sites out there, boasting the ability to record transactions through a variety of means, including phone, text, debit card, and email.
Once information is entered, you can get emailed reports and download data into Excel. It's definitely geared towards those operating small businesses, but it should work for your own personal finances. It's $19.95 a month, though, so you may find there are other sites that offer a better value.
Pros: Ease of entering purchases, slick interface and detailed reports.
Cons: $19.95 per month. Geared toward small business.
The minimalist DailyCost app (just $1.99) for iPhone makes it easy to enter and track purchases. To enter a purchase, it's just a simple gesture, and items are easily categorized. The app then allows you to see your spending in colorful charts. It works with dozens of currencies, too. (See also: 3 Hassle-Free Steps to Track Your Finances)
Pros: Clean and simple interface, effective in tracking expenses you enter.
Cons: Only available on iPhone. Does not link to credit cards or bank accounts or automatic tracking.
Another simple expense tracker with apps for iPhone and Android, Cashbase allows you to track expenses and income, it publishes charts and graphs, and it even has customer support. For $5 a month, you can also get cash flow projections, budgeting tools, and a weekly report.
This program doesn't link to your bank accounts or credit cards, but you can import statements in the form of a CSV file.
Pros: Good customer support, good smartphone apps.
Cons: Budgeting tools and some reports are $5 per month extra.
Moneywiz is a well-rounded app designed for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Entry of purchases and expenses is easy, and you can scan and attach receipts and bills. There are good budgeting tools, forecasting, charts and graphs, and the ability to schedule transactions. One of the slickest apps you'll find, but also one of the priciest.
Pros: A robust app with a smooth and minimalist interface, cloud syncing.
Cons: Only available on Mac and iOs. $24.99 for Mac app, $4.99 for iPhone/iPad.
Opinions of this site are mixed, but Mint is my personal favorite, and the one I use most regularly. It's possible to track nearly every aspect of spending and income, from banks and credit cards to retirement accounts and loans. The program can easily find most financial institutions automatically, so you save time on entry when setting it all up.
Setting up an unlimited number of budgets is easy, and spending is simple to track.
If you buy things using a credit or debit card, most spending is categorized, and you can adjust the categories and add as many as you want.
There are apps for iPhone and Android with full capability, and it's very easy to log in and enter a purchase, or check how you are doing compared to you budgets.
Pros: Totally free and full of features, allows you to see full financial picture, set budgets and goals. Great smartphone app.
Cons: Because it does so much, the site can often seem unwieldy. Product recommendations can seem intrusive. Not everyone is comfortable linking all account information online.
What are your favorite spending trackers?