Logging your daily expenses is a bit like flossing: It’s one of those things we all know we should be doing, but usually don’t, because it’s just too much of a hassle. A smartphone makes the task a bit easier (logging expenses, not flossing — at least not yet), but even with a mini-computer right in your pocket, if your expense tracker isn’t well-designed you’re going to have a hard time using it. One Touch Expenser is one Android app that understands this: It’s an expense tracker that does everything it can to make logging your expenses an effortless process. We’ve briefly looked at it previously when we should you how to make the most of your Android style, but it works just fine without a stylus, too.
Logging an Expense
One Touch Expenser is a Holo app, and it uses a sidebar for navigation. Open up the sidebar, and find four different ways to log your expenses:
First, let’s talk about the app’s namesake, the “one touch” mode, the bottom-left button in the screenshot above. Let’s say you’ve just spent some money — maybe you got yourself a cup of coffee, and you don’t feel like awkwardly trying to type on your phone to log the expense while holding the cup with your other. Tap the “One touch” button, and this is what happens:
A blank entry is entered into your expense log. It doesn’t have a sum, a category, or a note — but it does have a timestamp. You can think about it as a placeholder. Later, when you do have some time to list your expenses, you can ask yourself “What did I get on Monday afternoon?” Of course, this won’t work if you wait to the end of the month before filling in the details, but it can definitely work if you stop to fill in your info at the end of each day (One Touch Expenser will show a reminder to help you do this).
Another interesting way to quickly log an expense for later is with a photo (“Snapshot”, above):
Let’s say I got a Kindle (or a book) and want to make a quick note of it which I could then fill up with complete information. Above you can see what such a note would look like: I get a photo and an exact timestamp. To me, this is far more useful than the “One touch” mode — having a photo means I won’t forget what I’m supposed to log even if I get to it a week later. You can also take a photo of a receipt, so you don’t have to remember the exact cost for later. This is similar to what I already do with Evernote Food to log my food intake, and it works.
When you start One Touch Expenser, it reminds you if you have some expenses that are missing information:
It also shows you a neat breakdown of your expenses so far. The color scheme could do with a bit of improvement (it’s not so colorblind-friendly), but the representation is simple. The categories you see (household, automobile, food) are actually tags. These are optional, but they’re very quick to apply for any expense:
One Touch Expenser can also help you remember recurring expenses. Let’s say your rent is due every month on the 27th:
Set a recurring reminder for the 27th, and when the time comes, you’ll get it in your notification pull-down menu:
Tap the reminder, and One Touch Expenser lets you use a single touch to note its status:
Last but not least, there is of course a mode to just fill in an expense with all of its fields. Oddly enough, this mode doesn’t let you attach a photo after the fact:
What I like about One Touch Expenser is that each expense has very few fields, and most are optional. Note the “Ex” slider next to the amount: You can also use One Touch Expenser to log your income.
Reviewing Your Spending Habits and Exporting Data
Logging your expenses is useful, but only if you take the time to look over your spending habits every now and then, spot patterns, and make sure that you’re still on track. To do this in One Touch Expenser, you use the Detailed Summary screen:
Here you can see your breakdown per category for this month, and quickly swipe back and forth between months to see at a glance whether your spending is holding steady or increasing in a given category (or in general).
Of course, a smartphone screen is not the ideal medium for in-depth analysis of your spending patterns. That’s why One Touch Expenser also lets you export your data to CSV and email it to yourself. You can then import the CSV into any spreadsheet or other financial software and slice and dice it as needed.
Setting a Budget (Sort Of)
Finally, One Touch Expenser also lets you set a budget… sort of:
You can set an overall monthly spending limit easily, and you can even set limits for each tag:
Above you can see I’ve set a limit of 700 for my automobile tag, 150 for entertainment, 700 for food, 50 for health care, and 250 for household expenses. All told, that comes to 1,850. With an overall budget of 5,000, I should be able to set only 3,150 for my next tag. But alas
One Touch Expenser doesn’t take previous budget limits into account, which means the overall budget really doesn’t mean much. This part of the spending log app is far less refined than the expense tracking features — if you need a strong budget tracker for Android, you may be better off with something like Expense Manager.
Overall Aesthetic and Final Thoughts
One Touch Expenser delivers on its promise: It offers lean, hassle-free expense tracking for everyday use. I can’t think of a faster way to log a single expense, really. While I wouldn’t use it to analyze my budget or spending habits, I can definitely see myself logging expenses with One Touch Expenser, especially while travelling. Its adherence to the Holo design guidelines makes for a nice, cohesive experience mostly free of UI oddities and quirks: It works as you’d expect it to.
Will you be giving One Touch Expenser a try, or have you found another spending log app that works for you? Let me know below.