Three money apps for tracking, organizing and reporting your finances

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Credit: Image: Rob Schultz

Between budgets and taxes, it's time to get organized. These apps will help you track, categorize, and report your finances, saving some annoying steps along the way.

Expensify

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Expensify is well designed for the small screen of your phone.

Expensify’s tag line is “expense reports that don’t suck.” No matter how you phrase it, expense reports do suck, even when they promise to return your money. But Expensify, a Web and mobile app, manages to make them almost painless.

It does that by connecting directly to your bank or credit account (with your permission, of course) and importing and categorizing expenses for you. Creating an expense report as simple as clicking a few boxes on a screen. You can submit your expense report via Expensify, too, though that process will be streamlined if your entire company is on board with using the service.

Adding expenses via the mobile app, available for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone devices, isn’t quite as automatic, but if you have to enter expenses manually, it’s almost as pain-free as possible. I like how easy it is track mileage or time using the mobile app, making it a snap to get reimbursed for travel or to bill for hours worked. Its SmartScan feature lets you snap a picture of a paper receipt using your device’s camera, and then it analyzes the picture for the amount and date. Note that if you don’t capture the date—a mistake I made a couple of times when trying to scan a long receipt—SmartScan may hang for a bit and then report an error.

When tax time hits, you’ll be glad you have all of your expenses stored in Expensify. It smartly categorized my expenses, and it made them easy to search when I needed to organize my paperwork.

Expensify is available as a Web app and a mobile app. It’s free to use for individuals, with paid pricing options starting at $5 per user per month for smaller organizations (non-profits, students, churches) and $9 per month for most businesses.

iXpensit

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iXpensit's interface is all business, making it easy to see where your budget stands.

The iXpensit iOS app is designed to help you set a budget and stick to it.

To create a budget, you simply set the amount you’d like to stick to, and the time period in question. You then enter expenses and income as you go, by manually entering them using the app. As you spend and make money, you can see at a glance how your budget is holding up.

I wish iXpensit would make things a little more automatic, by syncing with your banking and credit accounts. That would speed up the process considerably. Still, entering things by hand isn’t difficult, and I like that you can set up recurring expenses for items you pay regularly, such as your rent.  

iXpensit includes an option for creating an expense report, which is a simple task once you’ve entered your expenses. The resulting PDF is polished, and I especially like how it automatically attaches any photos of receipts you’ve snapped and stored in the app. These reports aren’t only for submitting expenses: You can sort them by category and time period, making them useful when you’re organizing expenses for tax reporting purposes.

iXpensit is available in two versions, a free Lite version that’s ad-supported, and a $4.99 paid version. It’s a handy way to create and stick to a simple budget, but tracking expenses feels like a little too much work.

Slice

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Slice uses fun shapes and colors, but this app still makes it easy to find the numbers you need.

Keeping track of the items you buy is important for anyone, but especially for small businesses and sole proprietors who need to list all of these items on a tax return. Slice, a free iOS app, makes tracking almost anything you’ve purchased drop-dead simple.

Open the app, connect it to the email account you use to manage your purchases, and you’re good to go. Slice automatically finds all of the e-receipts in your account, including those associated with in-store purchases. It lets you see, at a glance, which items are out for delivery—and where they are on a map—as well as items that have already been delivered. You also can scan through a list of items that don’t require delivery, such as digital downloads.

Slice is neatly laid out and very easy on the eyes, with an attractive, finger-friendly layout. By default, it displays pictures of your items, so keep it away from prying eyes if you want to keep any gifts a secret. You can hide pictures by pinching and expanding the screen.

Slice’s organizational features are presented in a very touchscreen-friendly way. Slide the icon across the screen to see a list of purchases by category or trends over time. These features will be useful if you’re trying to stay on a budget or organize a list of purchases for tax returns. Frequent shoppers also will appreciate how Slice alerts you if a recent purchase drops in price, so you can get that cash back.

Serious business folks may not appreciate Slice’s bubbly layout and its shopping focus. But anyone who shops online—whether that’s a lot or a little—should take it for a whirl.

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