Tech-savvy smartphone apps have made monitoring spending habits, tracking expenses and managing money a breeze.
A monthly expense tracker app automates the process of recording transactions, totaling expenses by category and tracking progress toward goals. While there are many resourceful apps available, the best tools are ones you actually use. That means finding an interface and tracking features that appeal to you. Fortunately, you have many options.
Here’s what we think are the 10 best expense tracker apps for personal and business use.
— Erica within the Bank of America app.
— QuickBooks Online.
Top feature: Bill payment tracker and alerts to help you avoid late fees.
Best for: Budget-conscious consumers who want a comprehensive financial app.
If you’re looking for a resourceful and easy-to-navigate tool, Mint is a compelling choice. Available for free, Mint makes it easy to track expenses across multiple bank, credit card and investment accounts. The app will automatically categorize spending, though expense categories can be changed manually. Users can build a budget off recorded transactions, and Mint offers plenty of extras such as free credit scores, bill payment reminders and low balance alerts.
For those on a budget, it’s hard to beat the price or features of Mint, which is owned by Intuit, the parent company for QuickBooks and TurboTax. The only snag: The app includes ads, which can be distracting.
Cost: $11.99 per month or $84 per year when billed annually
Top feature: Ability to sync data in real time across a variety of platforms including Apple, Android and Alexa devices.
Best for: Those willing to try a new approach to managing finances.
Standing for You Need a Budget, YNAB is designed with the philosophy that households should spend only the money they have currently available. For many people, that means using YNAB will require a shift in thinking.
The app can be linked to multiple bank accounts to make it easy to track and plan for expenses. Plus, the company provides free daily workshops and online guides that cover finance topics and explain how to use the app effectively. If you’re on a tight budget, the app’s steep price tag may be cost-prohibitive, although there is a 34-day free trial available. Plus, college students can receive 12 months for free.
Erica Within the Bank of America App
Top feature: Learns from user interactions to provide more personalized financial guidance.
Best for: Bank of America customers.
Using your financial institution’s app may be the easiest way to keep track of expenses, especially if most of your spending comes from a single account. For Bank of America customers, that means using Erica, a feature that will monitor charges, provide a weekly snapshot of spending and offer bill payment reminders.
“Erica is the industry’s first widely available AI-driven, virtual financial assistant,” says Christian Kitchell, chief digital executive of AI solutions and head of Erica at Bank of America. More than 20 million people have access to Erica, and the service is designed to become more proactive and predictive with use. Kitchell adds, “Erica has the capability to integrate across a client’s entire banking relationship with us, providing a very personalized digital experience.”
While Erica is only available to Bank of America customers, other financial institutions may have their own in-app services for keeping track of expenses.
Cost: Premium features cost $7.99 a month or $79.99 when billed annually. A free version with limited features is also available.
Top feature: Automated, certified record of expenses for tax, court or other purposes.
Best for: Parents who do not live together but share expenses for children.
SupportPay is a specialized expense tracker created for parents who share the cost of raising a child but don’t live together. Sheri Atwood, the app’s founder and CEO, created SupportPay when she realized arguments over expenses were commonplace after her otherwise amicable divorce.
“The No. 1 complaint is that (parents) don’t believe (an expense) is the actual cost of an item,” Atwood says. With SupportPay, parents can upload or take a photo of receipts to share with the other parent. Payment can be made directly through the app, or payment records can be added manually. There is also the option for a parent to dispute an expense and provide a written explanation of why they don’t agree with the payment request. Data from SupportPay can be exported and used to create certified records that can be used for tax or court purposes.
Removing emotion from the process of splitting expenses and increasing transparency are key benefits of SupportPay, according to Atwood. However, to get the most out of the app, both parents need to be willing to install and use it.
[See: 35 Ways to Save Money.]
Cost: Regular prices range from $25-$150 a month, depending on the plan.
Top feature: Upload receipts with a photo and the app will automatically match to existing expenses or create new ones.
Best for: Businesses that need comprehensive financial management in addition to a tried-and-true spending tracker.
Not only does QuickBooks securely import and categorize expenses, but it also enables users to create invoices, receive payments, track inventory and more. That makes this program a top choice for businesses that need comprehensive yet convenient financial software.
All that functionality comes at a cost, though. QuickBooks Online plans start at $25 a month and run up to $150 a month for advanced plans that have added features and can support up to 25 users. Discounts of 50% are available for the first three months. Still, it might make sense to choose QuickBooks over other options, given its extensive business tools and its reputation as the standard in accounting software.
Top feature: Real-time analysis of spending, which can detect anomalies.
Best for: Entrepreneurs looking to better manage cash flow.
Steeped in machine-based learning, Digits says its app gets smarter with every transaction. It provides real-time analysis of transactions to identify recurring expenses, predict future costs and detect anomalies in a business’s spending. More than 9,000 financial institutions are supported by the app, which will also automatically reconcile transactions against your bank account.
“We’ve spent years developing a machine learning backend to supercharge our entire suite of tools and deliver them to businesses in a real-time, visual language entirely different from reporting of the past,” co-founder and co-CEO Wayne Chang wrote in an email. “Our goal is to transform their entire experience from one they tolerated yesterday to one they find fascinating today.”
Digits is currently available for free through an Early Access plan. Don’t confuse this app with a similarly named Digit app, which automatically transfers money from a user’s checking to savings account.
Cost: Regular prices range from $29-$89 per month when paid monthly, or $23-$71 per month when paid annually.
Top feature: Prepaid envelopes that can be filled with receipts, mailed in and converted to digital copies.
Best for: Businesses with a significant number of paper receipts.
While some expense tracker apps focus on capturing data from bank accounts, Shoeboxed provides a way to easily manage receipts and other paper documentation. Users can scan receipts themselves or request a Magic Envelope to send their documents to Shoeboxed for scanning. The app will create expense reports and integrates with other tools such as QuickBooks and Evernote.
What’s more, the app will automatically categorize receipts by vendor, date, total spent and payment type. It will also store IRS-accepted images and other data. Plans start at $29 per month for 25 physical documents per month. All plan options come with a 30-day free trial, and a 25% discount is currently being offered.
Cost: Free for up to 25 SmartScans per month. Then, prices for individual plans start at $4.99 a month.
Top feature: Option to auto-submit reports for reimbursement.
Best for: Workers who need to track mileage and job expenses for reimbursement or tax purposes.
Expensify is another app that makes it easy to scan receipts and capture expense data. Plus, its pricing is more affordable than other options. The app allows five free SmartScans of receipts each month, or for $4.99 a month, individual users can scan an unlimited number of receipts. Data is stored indefinitely, and the app will track mileage as well.
Group plans, which can cost up to $18 per month per user, have additional features such as expense approval functions and integration with accounting software. Expensify gets strong reviews online, and aside from affordable pricing, it appeals to users looking to monitor GPS mileage. The only caveat: The interface isn’t intuitive for all users.
Cost: Plan pricing ranges from $11-$62 per month.
Top feature: Ability to capture receipts from photos, scans or emails, followed by automated bank reconciliation.
Best for: Small businesses seeking an easy-to-use, cloud-based solution for financial management.
For small businesses that want to do more than track expenses, Xero provides a comprehensive solution for money management. It can be used for invoicing, bill payment and reporting. As a spending tracker, it can be synced to multiple bank accounts and also capture expense date from receipts and emails. Then, it reconciles bank accounts daily.
“Our mission is to make things simple and seamless for small businesses, and this has been at the heart of Xero from the very beginning,” says Anthony Staltari, director of product strategy at Xero. The app and website were designed to be intuitive, and they work seamlessly with a number of other apps to integrate tools for payroll, payments and time management, among other tasks.
Three monthly plans are available, starting with an $11 per month option that Xero says is ideal for freelancers, self-employed workers and new businesses. Plans with more features are offered at $32 and $62 per month. All plans come with a free 30-day trial.
Cost: Free for a basic, desktop-only plan, $7.99 or $14.99 per month for premium or business plans.
Top feature: Email forwarding and receipt scanning options to pull together both online and offline expenses.
Best for: DIYers who want to create their own monthly expense tracker.
Evernote wasn’t created as an expense tracker, but it can be used as one. The app can capture data from receipts and emails and then sort and categorize information as notes. However, if you want to use the mobile version of Evernote, you’ll need a premium or business membership. The free plan limits users to the desktop version of the program.
While the app does provide some templates, this is not an app that will tell you how to track expenses. It also won’t sync to your bank account. Instead, Evernote is best for those who want to create their own system of recording and filing bills and payments. The learning curve for using the app can be steep, but Evernote also has many devoted fans who swear by it not just for financial tracking but also for organizing documents and notes of all kinds.
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Update 05/13/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.