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Freelancers are often frustrated by fluctuating income. And when you don’t have the luxury of getting regular paychecks, there is the tendency to make money mistakes. But you can avoid overspending and make better use of your money by practicing good money management.
Reaching your financial goals doesn’t mean you have to be a financial wizard. Nor do you have to hire a money manager.
What could be valuable however, is a personal finance app that helps you keep abreast of your finances. Even if you have achieved freelance success, and don’t have money worries, you can still learn to sharpen your money management skills right in the palm of your hand.
Have a look at 10 apps that you perhaps didn’t know you needed, but you won’t be able to live without once you start using them.
iReconcile’s motto is ‘keep your finance in check.’ The easily customizable Android app helps you manage day-to-day financial transactions using a checkbook register. You don’t need to keep a list of all items you bought or all the money you spent. The app does everything for you; once you enter each transaction, your new balances appear automatically. It also comes with free updates and online backup.
iReconcile also lets you setup budgets and create reports. If sticking to a budget is difficult, you can setup daily, weekly, or monthly budget reports. If you wish to share your account with another user, you can do that securely with iReconcileSync. This optional feature lets users sync and manage account information through their iPhone, iPod, or iPad.
Try iReconcileSync free for 30 days or purchase a monthly subscription for $1.99, or $19.99 a year.
Grocery Gadget is a free shopping management and productivity app. Grocery Gadget helps you reduce the time you spend in the supermarket and the time you would normally spend rewriting grocery lists. It also helps to cut down your grocery bill. You can add notes, take photos of grocery items, and use ecoupons from specific stores.
Use the Grocery Gadget barcode scanner to create your grocery list, or type the list directly into your phone. You can create multiple lists including a master list to be used every time you shop. Scan the barcode for each grocery item and the app automatically calculates your totals. Scroll to add, delete, or check items off your list as you continue shopping. You will know your total bill and appropriate sales tax before you reach checkout.
Grocery Gadget’s full version costs $4.99; it is compatible with iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows phones, and Nokia.
Here is a program that offers free, daily, weekly, and monthly online class to introduce users to YNAB, and how to use the app. The courses (which require registration) also teaches beginners the basics of starting a budget and setting up accounts. Meet-ups and discussion forums are available if you require more help. There is also a blog and daily posts presented as real life case studies. If you find the courses too basic, the 40 video tutorials have a bit more substance.
YNAB is serious about helping people achieve freedom from debt. Learn how to accomplish financial freedom in the Four Rules video features. These videos are short but informative, running about 2 to 6 minutes long. The Four Rules are:
- Give Every Dollar a Job
- Roll with the Punches
- Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
- Save for a Rainy Day
YNAB is fun and intuitive, and has good screenshots. And where most free trials are 7 or 30 days, YNAB chose to give a 34-day trial. The app runs on iPhone and Android, and costs $60.
Have app, will travel. XpenseTracker is the app you need while you are on business. Enter your details for each log and XpenseTracker records your expenses. You can add expenses for a weekend at a hotel, car rental, purchases, or business lunches. You can also include descriptions and notes.
When you set up your preferred currency, XpenseTracker will calculate your conversion rate. The mileage tracker calculates distance traveled and fuel purchases. This app is compatible on iPhone and iPad. The download is available on iTunes for $4.99.
Pageonce is a useful personal finance application with complete budgeting features. It lets you check your cash flow, and organize and pay your bills in one place. The app is also a straightforward monitoring program. If you occasionally forget to pay bills on time, you can setup bill-payment reminder alerts to avoid costly late fees. Pageonce newest feature allows you to pay bills with credit cards.
Tap and select “Where your money’s going” and get a chart-form history of your spending habits. To keep up-to-date on your spending, you can set notifications to receive alerts when your spending goes uncharacteristically higher than normal.
In addition to viewing and modifying account information, Pageonce allows users to track stock portfolio and frequent flyer miles. This app is available through major mobile devices; the company is currently working on making Pageonce compatible with Android 4.0.3. Pageonce is free to try; the upgrade costs $6.99.
HomeBudget is a helpful expense tracker for your freelance business and the family budget. The features are numerous: spending trends, recurring expenses, budget rollover, bill tracking, categories, and more. Users of Quicken can import their personal financial data directly into HomeBudget for easy budgeting.
Expect a slight learning curve with HomeBudget. Within the 5 main screens are 30 more screens that require some effort to navigate through. But of the 5 main headings, the most commonly used are the expense, income, and budget screens.
Canadians wishing to use this app should note that HomeBudget works with a limited number of Canadian banks. When you’re ready to try HomeBudget, just download the lite version for free, or buy the full version for $4.99.
7. iBank 4
According to IGG Software, iBank is “The Gold Standard for Mac money management.” iBank 4 is more suitable for advanced users, or anyone with previous experience using heavyweight apps. There is a somewhat high-end learning curve, but the developers have provided video tutorials about how to use each feature.
Costing a hefty $59.99 for a single license, iBank 4 does more than simple budgeting. Mac users track and manage their entire net worth in once place using the Dashboard Widget. You can also manage investment portfolios, retirement accounts, and stock options. And there are 10 convenient account options to choose from including line of credit, money market, 401k, asset, and savings. iBank 4 allows the transfer of funds into foreign currencies.
iBank 4 does have some glitches. Summary reports occasionally give incorrect totals-these have to be corrected manually. Occasionally, when integrating with Quicken, some category fields and transactions do not import properly. And for simple budgeting, users cannot make online bill payments through iBank. Overall, iBank is a good comprehensive program.
Moneydance lacks a number of features that iBank 4 has. However, the app is a good alternative to iBank. And, unlike iBank 4, you can set up online bill payments. The Moneydance interface has a new improved look, which makes it easy to use the main navigation bar.
Setting up notifications for budgeting tasks, such as recurring bills, takes little effort. Additionally, this iPhone app let’s you import QFX/OFX files (for Quicken), manage investments portfolios, and reconcile accounts. All account transactions can be converted into multiple currencies. And, if you have a zero balance in any of your accounts, check the ‘inactive’ and ‘hide’ boxes to remove the account from the list. The free download limits you to 100 manually entered transactions; the paid version costs $49.99.
Organize your money with EasyMoney, one of LifeHacker’s top 5 personal finance apps. EasyMoney also made the pages of Amazing Android Apps for Dummies. This app is recommended if you need help organizing your money and tracking expenses.
Devoted EasyMoney users prefer this app to many of the more popular Android apps-users also rate the app as excellent. They like the ease of use, and that the app has everything needed to easily manage their finances. EasyMoney is also flexible in handling multi-currency accounts. Try EasyMoney free for 30 days-an upgrade to the premium version costs $9.95.
MoneyWiz does everything you would expect in a full-featured personal finance app. It streamlines your day-to-day finance in one convenient place; it also creates customized budgets, sets reminder alerts, and more. With over 200 features, MoneyWiz is ideal for individuals doing advanced budgeting. Unless you are an entrepreneur, you likely won’t use all the features.
MoneyWiz is more sophisticated than most finance apps. It is set up to perform account reconciliation, financial forecasts for future dates, and advanced budget transactions. You can create custom reports on your net worth. MoneyWiz is translated in 8 languages; you can also complete transactions in multiple currencies.
Silver currently offers MoneyWiz for iPhone and MoneyWiz for iPad. The MoneyWiz for Mac version will be available in spring 2012. All versions cost $4.99.
Mint is another popular finance app that most people are familiar with. Which ones are your favorites?