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Managing Expenses From Your iPhone or iPad

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Avid iPhone and iPad user Jason Rich showcases a handful of expense tracking apps for the Apple iPhone and/or iPad, and explains how entering, managing, and reporting expense-related data while on the go can become an easy, accurate, and efficient process. Whether you need to track personal expenses, work expenses, car mileage, or your time, many powerful apps are highly customizable and designed to handle these tasks.
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Many people need to keep track of personal or work-related expenses, whether it’s for their taxes, reimbursement by employers, or budget help. As you go about your day using cash, credit cards, a debit card, or writing checks to pay for purchases, expenses, and bills, a handful of iPhone and iPad apps make it easy to accurately keep track of these expenditures.

Plus, there are ways to quickly scan paper-based receipts in order to import expense-related data into apps. It’s often possible to utilize the camera that’s built in to your iOS mobile device. Several portable, battery-powered scanners can be used with an iPhone or iPad to quickly scan paper-based receipts and other documents, which can then be stored and/or somehow processed on your phone or tablet.

For example, the Doxie Go scanner from Apparent ($199) weighs just 14.2 ounces and easily fits into a briefcase. It’s an extremely portable, battery-powered scanner that can link to an iPhone or iPad wirelessly, allowing you to scan printed materials, such as receipts, and import them into your iOS mobile device from just about anywhere.

Expense tracking apps with built-in OCR technology can then extract data from the scanned receipts or documents, and utilize the information within the app, eliminating the need to manually enter expense-related information.

Apps for Expense Tracking

In addition to using Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet app, in conjunction with a template or your own spreadsheet design to keep track of, calculate, and manage expenses, there are stand-alone apps designed for this purpose, as well as apps that can help you handle all aspects of your personal finances.

Regardless of which app you use to track your expenses or manage your personal finances, the app can only be useful if you get into the habit of immediately entering information as new expenses, for example, are incurred. The following is a sampling of expense tracking apps available from the App Store for the iPhone and/or iPad.

Mint.com Personal Finance

Mint.com Personal Finance (free) is a hybrid iPhone/iPad app that’s designed to help you manage your checking, savings, credit cards, investments, and retirement plan. To make entering data into the app easier, it utilizes the online banking option that’s typically available with a checking, savings, and credit card account, so you can download account-specific data directly into the app via the Internet. You also have the option, however, to manually enter data.

After securely importing or entering your account-specific data, the app allows you to categorize your various expenses, and then see exactly how your money is being spent and how much money you have available. Using tables, graphs, and custom-generated reports, you can view this information on the screen, or print expense reports and other information that’s pertinent to managing all aspects of your finances.

Expense Tracker Pro

This hybrid iPhone/iPad app is designed specifically for expense tracking using a straightforward user interface. Begin by customizing your expense categories. You can then associate a graphic icon with each type of expense for easy visual identification and data entry. Then, once the 99-cent app is set up, use it to quickly enter your individual expenses as you incur them.

The app not only keeps track of your expenses and overall spending, but it can display this information within a custom-generated report and/or as a chart or graph.

Business Expenses Pro for iPad

Designed specifically for business professionals who need to track their expenses for later reimbursement by their employer, Business Expenses Pro for iPad ($1.99) allows you to set up 10 different expense categories, and then as you enter each individual expense, include any notes you deem appropriate. The app keeps running totals of your expenses by day, week, month, or year, and allows you to create customized reports (including charts and graphs) of your expenses.

This app has some limitations in terms of customization and how data is exported, but it’s extremely simple to use.

iExpense Pro

This $1.99 hybrid iPhone/iPad app is also designed specifically for business professionals. iExpense Pro can be used to easily track business advances and expenses, from when individual expenses are entered into the app, until you’re ultimately reimbursed. This app is chock full of useful features, like the ability to quickly customize and generate expense reports that can be emailed from within the app, or exported as CSV or PDF files. Data can also be set up to automatically synchronize with your primary computer via iCloud, iTunes Sync, or Dropbox.

As you’d expect, iExpense Pro allows you to categorize each expense, and associates a graphic icon with each category. So, when you incur a new hotel, airline, meal, car rental, taxi, toll, train, gas, or other type of expense, you simply tap on the appropriate icon, and then quickly enter the pertinent information while you’re on the go.

The app allows you to export the expense data in an industry-standard data format (CSV) that can be imported into a wide range of programs running on your primary computer. The app itself is capable to compiling, displaying, and printing detailed reports that include colorful charts and graphs.

Expensify for iPad

If you already use the Expensify online service to track, manage, and report work-related expenses, this free app allows you to enter expense information and track expenses while on the go. (A separate version of the Expensify app is available for the iPhone.)

The goals of Expensify are to allow you to easily automate the expense report process, save you time, and insure accuracy. What’s great about this app is that it can sync data directly from your credit card and bank accounts, so expense-related data gets imported automatically via the Internet. The app is compatible with the online banking services offered by hundreds of different major banks.

The app is also fully compatible with eReceipts. However, if you pay cash for an expense, or wind up with a paper-based receipt, simply use the camera that’s built in to your iPhone or iPad to scan the receipt. The app will then extract the necessary information from the printed receipt, including the merchant, date and time, and amount.

A separate feature within the Expensify app allows you to track car mileage expenses and then automatically incorporate that data into your expense report(s). Ultimately, expense data can be exported into QuickBooks or other financial software running on your primary computer, or customized reports can be generated, viewed, printed and shared from your iOS mobile device.

Expense Tablet for iPad

When it comes to efficiently managing personal expenses while on the go, this iPad-specific app (99 cents) is designed to make the process easier. The focus of this app is on ease-of-use. You can track expenses by account or category, quickly enter expense-related data, and then create customize expense reports.

Additional features will soon be incorporated into the app that allow expense-related data to be exported to financial or spreadsheet software that’s running on your primary computer. However, the current version offers a straightforward way for someone to categorize, track, and manage their expenses and overall budget, assuming they have the discipline to manually enter the necessary expense and personal finance-related data into the app on a consistent basis.

XpenseTracker - Expense Tracker & Mileage Log

This hybrid iPhone/iPad app ($4.99) is designed for business people who need an all-inclusive expense tracking and reporting application that’s accessible while on the go. The app is designed to track work-related expenses, personal expenses, and car mileage, and then sync this financial data with software running on a primary computer.

The app allows you to fully customize an unlimited number of expense categories, keeps a running total of all expenses, and later allows expenses to be sorted by date, category, payment type, and/or client. Each expense can also be individually marked as “submitted” or “reimbursed.”

Expense reports can be exported in several different formats, including plaintext or CSV, so data can easily be transferred to a primary computer and imported into Excel, for example. The app also offers the ability to use the iOS device’s built-in camera to scan paper-based receipts and then attach the images (as .jpg attachments) to expense reports.

Using the iPhone or iPad’s built-in camera to scan receipts and utilize data within the app requires an in-app purchase to upgrade the app (an additional 99-cent fee applies). Other optional upgrades include Dropbox support, and the ability to sync data with a computer.

BizXpenseTracker - Expense, Mileage & Time Tracking

The basic BizXpenseTracker app ($5.99) offers a complete solution for tracking, managing, and sharing/reporting business-related expenses. Like many of its competitors, you can create an unlimited number of customized expense categories, and then the app automatically keeps a running total of all expenses, which can also be sorted by date, category, payment type, or client.

Individual expenses can be labeled as “submitted” or “reimbursed,” and the app supports international currencies, and then uses current exchange rates to convert expenses into U.S. dollars, if needed.

A separate module of the app allows you to manage car mileage, and a third module built into the app handles all aspects of time-related tracking. Expense-related data can be processed and displayed by the app, shared via email, or exported in a variety of common formats to financial software running on a personal computer. Using the iPhone or iPad’s built-in camera, this hybrid app allows you to scan and store paper-based receipts, extract data from the receipts automatically, and then embed the scanned version of the printed receipt into expense reports.

An in-app purchase ($3.99) adds data syncing functionality to the app, making it even easier to wirelessly transfer data from the iPhone or iPad to a primary computer. For a businessperson who is constantly on the go, the BizXpenseTracker app provides an easy-to-use but powerful way to help automate the expense tracking and reporting process.

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