Apps can often be very distracting. From in-app purchases to monthly subscriptions those little icons can become costly. Amazon’s “one-click buy” service pretty much embodies the convenient, impulsive shopping that causes a genuine surprise at the end of the month when you receive your credit card statement. This challenge combined with the hiking interest rates with no summit in sight means there is a lot to be said for Canadians to strive to stay out of the red wherever possible.

Apps to track finances

However, the very cause of your distress may also be the savior. There are a few apps that stand out in holding you accountable for your finances. So without further ado, I present the best personal finance apps of 2018.

Clarity Money

Clarity Money App

Most reviews of this app comment on the appealing interface and feed format of this colorful app. What makes it stand out is that it tackles something that I’ve spoken about at length on this blog: subscriptions. Direct debits feed off a customer’s ‘I’ll get around to canceling that later” and then forgetting about it. The January gym membership is an all too common example. With this app, you can view all your direct debits in a list and, with the press of a button, cancel them.

If you’re serious about managing your finances efficiently, then you really can’t go wrong with this service; especially seeing that it’s free. This process is extremely streamlined, so the moment you realize that a subscription is adding nothing of value to your life you can stop contributing a part of your earnings to it.

I also like the automatic savings function. Again, it’s a smooth format that takes a portion of your savings and directs it to a savings account. You can see how much you’re spending at specific retailers, for instance, Starbucks. Many financial gurus will advise that you track the expense of individual habits in your life but, realistically, most of us aren’t going to record every single cup of coffee they buy. However, Clarity Money does just this. It offers transparency in your spending and can highlight items that are getting in the way of your savings.

The only quip I have with this app is the ads. Clearly, an app has to make revenue, and with no upfront cost something has to give, but it is a factor to keep in mind.

Mint

Mint App to track finances

This is the best-known app on this list. Mint forecasts your upcoming bills as well as the breakdown of your income and expenses. Additionally, we’re looking at specific features for the Canadian market including visibility of all the country’s major banks so you can keep track of your bank accounts. This app has quite a comprehensive toolbox; which can be broken down into five major sections:

  •     Track and pay bills
  •     Budget planner
  •     Free credit score
  •     Alerts and advice
  •     Investment tracking

The first three are ubiquitous across most apps in this category, so all I’ll say is that they are simple to use with an appealing interface.

Now, as for the alerts and advice, personally, I’m not one to endure the constant beeps of a needy app, so I welcomed the option to switch these alarms right off. As for the advice, the app questions unusual spending and also alerts you when you are overspending. The beauty of having a comprehensive app for tracking expenses is being able to get the complete picture. By having a 360 view of your finances, it can produce real-time information that acts as a financial assistant.

The investment side of the app mostly tracks the fees you’re paying to various brokers and advisors and finds cheaper alternatives. Knowing that you’re getting maximum earnings from your investments gives peace of mind. Although Mint is the most popular of the apps on this list, it doesn’t quite get my number one spot due to the handy features of Clarity Money.

 

PocketGuard

Here we have a budgeting app that does the hard graft for you. It tracks your spending and, using algorithms, places each transaction into a category of expenses. It also does the same for your income. Many apps provide this service but what makes PocketGuard different is that it predicts the outcome for the rest of the month.

The most common colloquial phrase that drives people further into debt is “I’m gonna let future me deal with that.” Many people get caught at the start of the month by blowing their pay cheque, but this app shows you the damage you’re doing to your wallet and even your credit rating. Sure, you can splash out every now and again, but if you use this app consistently, you’ll get into the habit of living within your means. In short, PocketGuard is useful for those who want a cruise control app that looks after the basics and gives you realistic spending and income projections.

So there you have it. It’s a sign of the times that these apps are coming out in their dozens. We’ve never been in more debt and companies have seen a real need in the market for people to have digital support for their digital spending.