There are several free finance management apps in the App Store, but I chose to examine the ones that don’t limit you to the number of transactions you can make.
First up is the ad-supported CashFlow app. It’s an easy to set up application that allows you to track your income and expenses and export data in CSV/OFX format via e-mail. It includes a built-in numeric keypad, and it keeps track of your payee names and expense categories so that you don’t have to re-enter them each time you make a new transaction for the same data.
You can also export weekly and monthly budget reports, as well backup and restore via Wi-Fi. And if need be, you can set a PIN code for security.
The ease of use of CashFlow allows you to input data a few seconds before or after you make a transaction. It’s really that simple.
Balance is similar to CashFlow and is ad-free. This free version, though, limits you to just one account. This app is great for replacing the paper-based checkbook register that you might still be using. However, its shortcoming is that it doesn’t save payee names and categories, so that means re-entering data that you have previously typed.
You can also export reports to your computer in spreadsheet format.
Balance is not as good as CashFlow, but it’s an option say for keeping track of a secondary account credit card where you might not be inputting data on a daily basis.
One of the best ways to monitor your spending is to keep a budget, especially for non-discretionary items and services that decrease your cash flow very quickly. Spend Lite is an almost perfect, easy to use budget manager.
You begin by setting up budgets for items and services you want to monitor. In the free version, you can set unlimited budgets for daily or weekly spending. In the paid version, you can set biweekly, monthly and yearly budgets.
As you spend against those budgets, Spend Lite will keep track of your spending and how much you have left for each budgeted item. You can choose to roll over your allotted amounts to the following week or day.
I used this app for several months when I first got my iPhone and really helped me decrease the amount I was spending for music, books and fast food.
Spend Lite is not like a traditional check registering book, so if you’re needing that kind of accounting, you will want to find an app that incorporates both account management and budgeting expenses. Otherwise, this easy to read and graphically well designed application does a great job. And it’s ad free.
Let us know if you use any of these or other free personal management apps on your iPhone and iPod touch. Smart gadgets like these are not cheap, so you should be keeping an eye on your spending.