Budgeting and tracking my daily expenses was something I started doing once I earned my first salary.
I wanted to allocate my funds in a way that wasn’t too splurgy or overly cheap, yet enough for me to treat myself every now and then.
It’s been a little over a year since then, and tracking my daily expenses has become a habit for me. It was only recently that I became more aware of whether or not I’m even sticking to my budgets.
So I tested out 5 budgeting apps that were top-rated in the Google Play store for a week to see if I’ve actually stuck to the budget I planned out a year ago.
iSaveMoney is made specifically to track your budgets and shows you how diligent you are at keeping to it.
You can set customised budget periods for how long you want to allocate these spending limits for.
Unlike most apps that only let you choose between weekly, monthly, and annual budgets, iSaveMoney lets you set it down to specific dates.
When your budget period is about to end, the main page will show a reminder at the top asking if you’d like to set it for the next month.
Your balances in each budget category can be viewed very clearly. It has a progress bar to show you how far or close you are to your limit and tells you how much you have left to spend.
Transactions like income and expenses can be added and viewed when you click on each budget category.
What it lacks for me though, are daily notifications to remind me to add my transactions.
I see iSaveMoney most useful for keeping track of expenses over vacations, as I would usually give myself an allocated amount to spend on the planned days.
It would even come in handy for planning events or spending on home improvements, as most would already have set a budget for such things.
The app is only available on the Google Play Store.
When you first set up the Wallet app, a bank syncing feature is the first action probed.
I wasn’t comfortable with linking my bank account to third-party apps, so I skipped this action to manually put in my balances from my spending accounts.
You have a few options for setting budget periods, which are one-time, weekly, monthly, or yearly budgets. For weekly budgets, you won’t have the flexibility to set the dates yourselves.
You will set your budgets based on the categories listed by the app. What I find disappointing is how its categories aren’t editable.
Meaning, if you’d prefer to list your “Groceries” under “Housing” instead of “Food”, there’s no option to change that.
As for viewing your budget records from previous weeks, only the premium version permits that.
A reminder to record your transactions can be set. You’ll also be able to separate your accounts between banks, cash, and plenty more.
Wallet was actually my least favourite app as its interface wasn’t very intuitive or informative as the others.
On its dashboard, there are meters for your balance, cash flow, spendings, and others. But where the meter points to is vague, simply telling you whether you’re in the green, yellow or red.
It also doesn’t automatically calculate how much you have left to spend from your budget. Then again, you could do the maths yourself to find that figure.
3. Fast Budget
Bank syncing is also available and its interface is clear in showing you your spending habits.
Custom budget periods can be set weekly, monthly, and yearly, amongst other timelines. You can customise what the first day of the week or month is.
I can see this function being useful, especially for businesses who have different start days for their individual fiscal years and months.
Where it lacks is in its transaction recording. Although you’ll see how much you’ve spent in a specific category, you won’t be able to clearly know what it was spent on.
I usually record what I’d bought as the name of transactions. The only way to know this exact information is if you added it as a note, but even then you’d have to go into each record to view it.
Daily reminders to record your transactions can be set, and you’ll also be able to separate your accounts between banks, cash, and many more.
Fast Budget has my favourite interface as its main page has all the widgets I needed to see. It shows all the necessities in one glance, including your transaction history, balances in accounts, and within each budget category.
It also has a progress bar to show how far or close you are to your budgeted amount so you don’t exceed the limit.
BlueCoins is the most technical app amongst the rest.
It shows a highly thorough balance sheet of your assets, liabilities, mortgages, and others. That is, if you even bother filling in all the details for each group.
You can customise your budget period to be daily, weekly, quarterly, annually, and everything in between. But you won’t be able to choose specific dates.
To see your balances for each budget, you’d have to swipe left a few times to the Budget Summary tab.
It will then show you a clear breakdown from every category with its remaining balances and progress bar to illustrate that.
BlueCoins can send you daily reminders to log your expenses like most of the others.
Enabling its premium version lets you set due date reminders for paying off credit cards bills and other instalments.
You can also set up distinct accounts for credit cards, savings, banks, and cash.
Despite how much BlueCoins has to offer, I find it too detailed for my liking and personal use.
It may be better suited to SMEs first starting out and needing to keep track of every transaction that goes in and out of their accounts, including the assets and liabilities they have.
The app is only available on Google Play.
5. Money Manager Expense & Budget
Money Manager Expense & Budget comes in 2 versions.
- Money Manager: Expense Tracker, Free Budgeting App (Yellow) – a more simplified lightweight version;
- Money Manager Expense & Budget (Red) – the one I’ve been using for a year now to track my expenses, and will be used for comparison in this piece.
The app doesn’t allow you to set specific budget periods. Its default is set for monthly ones.
As for checking your balances, the Accounts tab will show how much is left in your bank, cash, savings, and other accounts you’ve added.
Budget tracking, however, isn’t as obvious as the other apps above. You’d have to look for it in the Total tab of the Transactions page.
There, you will find progress bars to show you how much you’ve used up, and what you have left to spend for the month.
Honestly, because budgets are so hidden, I’d forgotten it even had a budget feature for the whole year I’ve been using it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the reminder feature to notify you to record your daily expenses. I specifically keep the Yellow app just for that purpose.
|iSaveMoney||Wallet||Fast Budget||BlueCoins||Money Manager Expense & Budget (Red)|
|Customisable budget period||Yes||Fixed||Fixed||Yes||Fixed|
|Displays budget balance||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Daily tracking reminders||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Available on Google Play Store||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Available on Apple App Store||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
After a week of using these 5 apps, I feel like I’ve been missing out on a huge part of keeping track of my spending habits.
Personally, my favourites were iSaveMoney and Fast Budget mostly because of their vibrant and simplified interfaces, ease of use, and ability to satisfy my most important criteria.
Both these apps show the necessities in their main pages, so you can see an overview of your balances and budgets in a glance.
As for whether or not I’ll be switching from the current Money Manager Expense & Budget app, it’d be a no. But that’s only because starting fresh would be a hassle now. Plus, we have so much history together!
In fact, now that I’m enlightened by its budget feature, I’ll be using it even more from now on.
- You can read more about what we’ve written on other apps here.