Financial Tools for your Phone – 3 Must-Have Apps

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Anyone can pay bills from their mobile device, but wouldn’t you like to do more? Like, track your investments and net worth from the same application? Or simply track a budget? And wouldn’t it be cool to find out the cheapest gas in town?

There’s an app for that! The following applications are available on both the Android and iPhone/iPod platforms.

Freshen your finances with Mint

By far, the most popular application for managing accounts across multiple institutions is Mint.com. This powerful personal
finance software, developed by Intuit, calls itself “the best free way to manage your money”. TIME Magazine agrees, choosing this application as one of the “50 Best iPhone Apps of 2011”.

Mint presents you with real-time access to ALL of your financial accounts, automatically categorizes your purchases, and helps you set and track your savings goals. You’ll receive alerts and reminders if you want them, and advice for paying off debt or preparing for taxes. You can even ask Mint to analyze your lifestyle and goals to provide you with recommendations
for changes that can save you a lot of money.

Mint’s pleasing-to-the-eye design, coupled with friendly and simple (but not simplistic) language, makes it easy to understand all of the information, no matter how in-depth you go.

Over eight million people use the award-winning Mint.com, and the mobile applications have earned a 4.2 rating in Google Play and a 4.5 rating in iTunes.

Grandma gets an Upgrade: the Envelope System

You know the envelope system – create purchase categories with a specified budget, then write the name of each category on a separate envelope. Fill each envelope with cash in the maximum allowed dollar amount, and make all purchases for each category with the money from its corresponding envelope. No cash = no purchase until the time period renews and the envelope is refilled. This method of budgeting may be old-fashioned, but it survives because, for many people, it’s very effective.

Easy Envelope
Budget Aid
allows you to utilize modern technology via the web or mobile apps to accomplish the same thing. Simply set up the personalized spending categories that you need – for example, Eating Out and Clothing – with their appropriate maximum, then record your purchases on your phone. The app will track remaining funds, tell you whether you’re on target for your specified your time frame, and produce various pie charts and reports for you when you need them.

Advantages:

  • It’s set up to be used by multiple members of
    the family, so you’re all working out of the same virtual envelope.
  • If you prefer to use a credit card for all
    purchases (for ease of one monthly payment, to accumulate points or miles, etc)
    you can still use the app.
  • Everything you need to use the app is completely
    free, but upgrades – which cost no more than $8/month – provide for importing
    bank statements, automatically recording scheduled payments, and more.

Disadvantages:

  • You’re not dealing in actual cash, so if you
    really need to feel the sting of greenbacks physically leaving your hands to
    deter overspending, consider using real envelopes – then tracking your
    purchases with the app.

EEBA – pronounced together as “EE-ba” – was developed by Dayspring Technologies, and has earned a 4.5 star rating in both Google Play and iTunes.

Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime – for Gas?

GasBuddy.com is a
popular network of websites where over half a million users per day input the
current cost of a gallon of gas at their local stations. The mobile app uses
this information in conjunction with your GPS location to pop up the prices at
gas stations near you. (The information is also accessible via the website by
inputting your ZIP code.) Prices are deleted from the system if not updated
within 24-48 hours. This ensures the information you’re getting is “surprisingly
accurate
“.

Why do people report the stations’ prices? Other than an
altruistic desire to provide fellow citizens with useful information, reporting
current prices gets you entries into GasBuddy’s weekly prize
giveaway
– usually a $250 gas card.

Currently, GasBuddy simply displays the cheapest price for a
gallon of gasoline at that station; a future version will display both cash and
credit prices. How can you be sure that that your trip across town (or across
the street) will actually save you money? Ask GasBuddy.com’s Trip Calculator!

All in all, it’s a handy tool in this time of crazily fluctuating gas prices. GasBuddy enjoys a 4.6 star rating in Google Play and a full 5 star rating in iTunes.

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