As a student, keeping an eye on my expenses is super important. Not only does it help plan for those end-of-month crunches, it also allows me to track how much money I'm spending on different things, and be better informed and more strategic about meeting my saving goals for the month. Thankfully, you no longer have to maintain tedious records and a balance sheet to manage your finances. Many mobile apps today not only do most of the work for you, some even automatically import transactions from your bank account and generate various graphs and other metrics to help you more easily follow along with exactly where your money is going.
Head over to the Play Store's personal finance section, though, and you'll be swarmed with an overwhelming barrage of budgeting apps. Which of them are worth your time? Head on below to see our choices for the top three budgeting apps on Android.
Having tried a large number of budgeting apps, I finally decided to use Monefy. While I generally gravitate towards solutions that offer as many options as possible, I decided to go with Monefy as my app of choice for its effortless simplicity.
It's not the most feature-packed, and while syncing between phones recently, its Dropbox sync option - which you need to buy the $2.50 Pro version for, by the way - did not work properly at all. I had to manually copy my backup files from one phone to the other, and also had to redo all of the settings and recreate all my custom categories on the new device. Quite the hassle if you're constantly moving between devices, but hopefully the recently added Google Drive syncing is better at it.
What really makes Monefy stand out, though, are its UI and ease of use. It's also not technically a budgeting app so much as it is a diary of all your expenses (it does include a 'budget mode' but that's a far cry from what other finance tracking apps do when they refer to budgets).
Open up the app and you're met with this really appealing, pastel-coloured UI that's both easy on the eyes and, as I soon discovered, surprisingly functional.
All of your most popular categories of expenses are clearly laid out in a ring around a large pie chart with your total expenses for the month displayed in the middle. The pie chart also serves as a quick visual aid to see which category is responsible for burning the largest hole in your wallet.
You can quickly add any new expenses by clicking on the icons, and it will automatically select that category for the expense. Long-press the category icons, and you can see the total you've spent on that category during the month in the centre of the pie chart.
It may be spartan compared to others in terms of its feature set but everything I need is at my fingertips, with the fewest number of clicks and menus to go through before you can add an entry and leave the app. That, by itself, is worthy of merit and makes tracking your expenses less of a chore, meaning you won't just get tired of it all and stop after a week.
If the Monefy app is a little too simplistic for you but you still appreciate its functional and easy to use carousel UI, you may want to give 1Money a try. Having a similar UI to Monefy is one of its best features. But it also has a lot more to offer in terms of functionality, giving you individual budgets for the various expense categories you have and more.
This app is also free to use, but you will need to buy it if you want to add more categories or accounts than what you're given by default. You also can't sync or export your data without a purchase. The pricing is, surprisingly, quite prohibitive, given that it's a subscription-based model, but you can get lifetime access by paying $8.99.
It also lacks some more advanced functions like tagging expenses by location or receipt scanning that Money Lover (below) has, but it is a solid budgeting app nonetheless and strikes a good balance between Monefy's pleasant simplicity and Money Lover's functional complexity.
If Monefy is the king of simplicity, Money Lover is the king of functionality. From detailed reports and charts accounting for your every penny to automatic transaction syncing with your bank - even those outside the US - this app seems to have it all.
There's support for multiple wallets/bank accounts, which come in a few different variants: basic wallets, where you input transactions manually; linked wallets, which automatically sync with your bank; goal wallets, which are all about saving money; and credit wallets for credit cards and the like. There's even a crypto wallet for all you bitcoin billionaires.
There is also just an astoundingly large number of smaller tools and conveniences that I can't mention in one go. You've got an ATM Finder, a Bank Finder, automatic syncing of exchange rates, receipt scanning and so much more. You even have travel mode, to know exactly how much you spent on that trip to the Bahamas while keeping those expenses separate from your regular expenses.
One feature I found particularly useful was the future view you can access by swiping left. This lets you easily plan your future incomes and expenses for the coming month, and use your future financial standing to better inform your current spending.
The app is free to use. However, you will need a premium subscription if you want to remove ads, enable data exporting to Excel, and if you want to have more than one budget for a month. That'll cost you $7.99 for a lifetime purchase, though the app almost always has some sort of promotion going on that brings that down by some margin. There's also an additional charge if you want to automatically sync transactions with your bank account.
There's a lot more to this app that I simply can't get to without writing a lot more, so do check it out. Apart from the pricing, the only other concern I had with it was the slightly less intuitive UI compared to, say, Monefy. Though, that is perhaps to be expected given just how many features and menus this app has to handle.
If you want to start saving up today, you're in luck because the developers of all three apps have agreed to provide Neowin readers codes for the premium versions of their wares. You can register for the giveaway here.