Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — More than ever, we’ve been learning to embrace a healthy culture of organization and routine, reveling in elaborate skincare, bullet journals, house plants, mood boards, and meal prep. It’s strange, but it’s actually freeing to keep a schedule and stick to plans, to feel like you might actually have your act together. This, of course, includes saving and spending.
While spreadsheets and dedicated lists in your planner are fine for keeping track of how you handle your money, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little help from an app or two. It’s much easier to micromanage and budget on the go, and you get to have all your information, including bank transactions and exact calculations, at your fingertips — usually presented in the form of comprehensive charts and graphs.
Whether you need a simple database to list down expenses or an in-depth tracker that’s basically a virtual accountant, you’ll find an app below that’ll make your life so much easier. And for particularly passionate Type As out there, there’s even a way to turn being a wise spender into a battle of wits and wallets.
Goodbudget’s main feature is virtual envelope budgeting, through which users can divide their income and set budgets up front for categories of their choosing, such as groceries, bills, transportation, and food — a system based on planning expenses alongside tracking them. You only make use of what you have: By strictly following the envelopes and spending only the allotted amount for the given categories and stopping once they’re “empty” (you can’t borrow from the other envelopes!), you can avoid overspending and save more.
Pros: Good for family use. Planning ahead of time gives you more control over your budget and less to worry about down the line, especially when it comes to impulsive spending.
Cons: The fixed envelope system requires some discipline and might not be able to account for emergencies or unforeseen changes — unless you give “Emergencies” an envelope of its own.
Goodbudget is available on iOS and Android for free, with optional paid upgrades.
Wallet by BudgetBakers
This app is all about the details, with a colorful user-friendly interface to help plan and manage expenses and savings better. Set up your monthly income and track expenses and transfers, including debts and credit or debit, and get an overview with automated graph reports. Wallet allows users to sync accounts from 4,000 banks worldwide, through which it gives automatic updates. Other features include receipt and warranty tracking, quick-access hashtags and shopping lists, and data export to PDF.
Pros: There’s also an option to import manual bank updates and transaction data from your own notes. Data also counts on how you feel about your spending; a swipe feature lets you decide if purchases were worth it or not, to help for future decision-making. Also, no ads.
Cons: Syncing to bank accounts gets glitchy at times, and the layout of the app, however clean and organized, may feel overstuffed for some.
Wallet is available on iOS and Android for free.
BlueCoins is also minimalist and efficient, with seamless syncing of data across devices. It helps users keep track of credit cards, bank accounts, loans, and debts through graph reports, and allows for customizable budgeting categories that can be viewed per week, month, quarter, and year, among others. But what sets it apart is its affordable one-time permanent premium upgrade at just $7, which affords you unlimited accounts and spending categories, extra themes to customize the look of the app, access to your complete financial history (according to app usage), projections for your net worth, up-to-date insights, data export and cloud sync, and a full overview of your cash flow.
Pros: The one-time upgrade really does make it unique among its peers, and the monthly calendar view is the best way to keep track between expenses and income.
Cons: The main dashboard features some in-depth data instead of just quick and straightforward access to basic necessary information, and users may need a little bit of extra time and guidance to completely get the hang of it. It also has yet to be available on iOS.
BlueCoins is available on Android for free.
Fudget is even less complicated than Simple Expense Note in that it comes in the form of quick, straight-to-the-point, and color-coded daily, weekly, or monthly lists detailing income and expenses, with the totals readily available at the bottom. There are no categories, no charts, just the numbers. To make things even easier, there’s an option to highlight recurring expenses through stars.
Pros: Great for day-to-day short-term budgeting with its quick and easy input method.
Cons: The lack of categories may be frustrating for users who are used to more organization and easy classification.
Fudget is available on iOS and Android for free.
Simple Expense Note
With an eye-catching design that has tabs in the style of classic organizers and planners, Simple Expense Note lives up to its name with fuss-free, foolproof features that can be accessed anytime and anywhere, even offline — making it especially ideal for freelancers. It lets you record and list down daily expenses and calculates total income and expenses on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis.
Pros: A lot of people will find its few but well-executed features sufficient. It’s very lightweight, uncomplicated, and accessible — perfect for keeping track, period. It’s even able to create graphs out of your given data.
Cons: It’s not customizable, and all that green may not be appealing to other users. It’s not available on the App Store, either.
Simple Expense Note is available on Android for free.
Imagine your expenses actually helping a city flourish — while that seems like a pretty distant dream in real life, in the adorable expense tracker and city simulator hybrid Fortune City, every purchase you log helps your own virtual city thrive and grow. The graphics are fantastically rendered, and you get to play with friends and win badges for reaching goals and spending wisely. Gamification is always fun and its own reward, but the cool thing is you still get to understand your own spending habits through readily available charts and expense records as well.
Pros: It’s both fun and functional, and it can also be a stress-busting creative outlet. There are also categories for expenses.
Cons: If your goal is to keep records and actual analytical data, you might want to install an app that actually fills that need — but you can still play Fortune City regardless.
Fortune City is available on iOS and Android for free.
Money Lover packs a ton of functionality into a lightweight, easy-to-use app. Aside from logging daily expenses and income according to categories, linking up with bank accounts, and compiling data into detailed visual reports, it helps users set budgets and savings plans based on their spending habits and creates a budget forecast that allows them to adjust according to their needs. It also has a built-in calculator and currency converter and gives reminders for scheduled bills and payments.
Pros: For users who are really living in the future, the app links to certain types of cryptocurrency. The budgeting is similar to Goodbudget’s envelope system, with a specific amount set per category at the beginning of the month to avoid overspending.
Cons: There can sometimes be too many ads.
Money Lover is available on iOS and Android for free, with optional paid upgrades.
Monny calls expense tracking an “adventure” wherein you get to “follow your dreams,” and has the pastel colors, fonts, cute animal-themed graphics, and fully customizable features to match. The app allows for unlimited multiple account books and entries for expense logs and collects data, trends, and rankings (e.g. what are you spending on the most) presented in comprehensive charts and reports. There’s a daily notification that reminds the user to do their daily log, which is useful for making a real habit of budgeting and keeping track of expenses.
Pros: Colors and cuteness aside, the design is clean and easy on the eyes — you won’t have to strain to find and read information. The bunny mascot talks!
Cons: The use of AmerType font can make or break this app for some users.
Monny is available on iOS and Android for free, with optional paid upgrades.