Follow These Easy Tips for Tracking Your Finances on Your iPhone
Smartphones have changed the way we live, and one of the most important areas where smartphones play a vital role is finances. Budgeting and tracking your expenses has never been this easy thanks to a lot of apps designed to help you manage your finances.
Given the complexity of tracking expenses, almost every iPhone expense tracking app wants to make things simpler, more efficient, and less time-consuming. But there's a threshold up to which budgeting can be simplified through code and design. The rest is up to you, the user.
Following are a few simple tips that can go a long way in how you manage your finances.
1. Excellent Account Overview
The account overview is almost always the first thing you see on any finance app. The overview gives you an idea of where you are financially: current total expenses split into categories, available balances across connected accounts, upcoming payments, budget limits/overspends—everything is collated in one place.
Use an app that gives you an excellent account overview, something that is comprehensive and, at the same time, minimal.
You want to know how much you've spent (and where). You want to know where you stand in terms of your monthly budget. Any other information will be superfluous and unnecessary on the overview page.
2. Scheduling Transactions / Set Reminders
Everyone has repeating transactions. Most iPhone apps for finance tracking come with built-in reminders or with a scheduled-transaction feature, but few people use it. Setting up scheduled transactions doesn't just save you time. It actually lets you remember one less thing. If the finance app allows you to set at least a reminder, even that would be good.
Anything less is not really worth downloading (more specifically because scheduled transactions have become a default feature). By scheduling reminders, you also create an obligation to spend on things that are necessary, thereby making sure you are not tempted to spend elsewhere and end up delaying the necessary bill payments.
3. Budgets / Alerts on Overspending
Expense tracking apps are about budgets, too. We track our expenses not just to figure out how much we spend but also to keep tabs on our expenditure. And budgeting helps us establish clear limits.
Some apps offer alerts when you reach some percentage of your predefined budgets. Those apps are far more helpful than the rest. Once you are alerted when you hit, say, 75% of your budget for entertainment and gifts, you automatically control or stop further spending on that particular category. It's one of the essential features that goes a long way in responsible budgeting.
4. Syncing with Your Bank
Wherever possible, security concerns permitting, sync your expense app to your bank account. This makes managing expenses far, far easier than having to manually copy over transactions that you do through online payments using your bank account or your credit card. A few years ago, restrictions and APIs made it almost impossible to connect to the bank account and keep the ledger books updated. That has changed now.
5. Sync Between Devices
If you use an iPhone and an iPad (and a Mac, possibly), turn on sync between all the devices so that when you update your expenses in one device, it reflects on all the others. Many expense trackers are built with support for iCloud, Apple's legendary service that syncs data between all your devices seamlessly.
Every expense tracker lets you categorize your expenses: food, entertainment, business, home, friends/family, kids, electronics…that list is endless. But many apps also let you tag expenses. And that's one of the most useful things you'll want.
Let's say there's a birthday party this month. There's going to be expenses categorized as food, but some of these are for the party—which is a yearly occurrence. Suppose at the end of the month you want to find out how much you spent on food excluding the party food—categories can't help you. Tags will. This is why tagging your expenses wherever possible is a great way to organize and manage your expenses better.
Budgeting and expense tracking apps are great. And if you add a little of your own optimization, it makes tracking expenses even more awesome and useful.
Jignesh Padhiyar is the founder of iGeeksBlog.com, a blog dedicated to news, tips, app reviews and accessory reviews for iPhone and iPad. You can follow his writing here. You can also follow iGeeksBlog on Google+.