If you are looking for a personal budgeting app today, you are likely to be spoilt for choice. That is because there are so many budgeting apps on the Google Play Store, on Apple’s App store and on various other platforms. Of course, each of these apps claims to be the very best. Yet when all is said and done, you have to sift through the numerous budgeting apps that are available, and ultimately settle for one. And that is what brings about the question as to what criteria you need to use, in selecting an ideal budgeting app. Do you just settle for the very first app you come across? Or are there specific things that you need to consider when selecting a budgeting app? That is the issue we will try to address in this article.
As it turns out, the budgeting apps that are available in the market vary considerably. This is to say that the budgeting apps are not created equal. Some are excellent, some are good and some are — to put it charitably — not so good. So you can’t just settle for the very first app you bump upon. There are some important considerations to be made. Those include:
You come to realize that some of the budgeting apps that are available in the market are very nice and easy to use. Others are not user-friendly at all. You need to identify those budgeting apps that are not user-friendly and avoid them. If you opt for a budgeting app that is not user-friendly, you are likely to end up spending so much time on budget-making and budget-tracking tasks that you could as well be doing it manually, using good old pencil and paper. Or could end up with an app where you keep on encountering glitches and requiring technical assistance from the app’s creators. Or one that is unable to integrate with your various accounts/credit cards, meaning that you end up having to do a lot of data entry manually… Thus, user-friendliness is a very important consideration here.
2. Data security
Budgeting apps often have to be integrated with personal accounts and credit cards for expense tracking purposes. This means that the app ends up having access to some very private information on the state of your finances. You need to be sure that wherever this data is going, it is secure. More specifically, you need to ensure that the folks behind the app you settle for are individuals of great integrity. Not the sorts of people who would end up selling the data you enter into the app to third parties.
Some of the budget-making apps are available to the end users free of charge. Others have to be paid for. If you opt for an app that has to be paid for, you need to ensure that the amount of money you spend on it is reasonable. First of all, there has to be something in the app to justify you paying for it. If you get a budgeting app you have to pay for, yet it has exactly the same features as those that are to be found in the free budgeting apps, it would mean that you are being fleeced. There surely has to be something in the app to justify you paying for it. And what you pay for the app has to be a reasonable amount of money for the utility you are getting out of it. In this regard, it would be important for you to undertake some research, to understand the budgeting app features that are worth paying for, and what a reasonable amount of money to pay for the respective features would be. Conversely, if you opt for a ‘free’ budgeting app, you have to understand the app developers’ business model. In other words, you have to understand how you will be expected to indirectly pay for the app because – let’s be blunt – there is nothing like a free lunch. There surely has to be some way in which you are expected to indirectly pay for the app. If it is through app revenue, then it is alright. But if you are looking at one of those apps where the developers get to pay themselves by selling your data, then you would need to think twice before buying in. The challenge here is of course in the fact that no app developer will ever tell you point-blank that they make money by selling your data. You just have to read between the lines to make this inference…
4. Remote accessibility
The best budgeting apps come with remote accessibility capabilities. This is to say that users are able to access the budget data in the apps from anywhere, and at anytime. Conversely, you may get a budgeting app in which you are only able to access the budget data in the specific device on which the apps is downloaded and installed. Now what if the device malfunctions (or if you lose the device)? Won’t your whole budgeting process be messed up? Obviously such an app is not ideal. You would be better off using a pencil and paper budget because at least the pencil and paper budget can’t malfunction/experience technical issues. Thus an ideal budgeting app is one where you are able to access the data remotely, even on a device different from the one on which you normally do the budgeting. Here, in case you lose the device with which you have been using the app, you don’t lose all the data in it.
5. Expense tracking capabilities
The best budgeting apps come with capabilities to track your adherence to the budgets you create. Some may even have features to warn you when you are nearing the limits you had set for the various expenses. This is very important, given the fact that the challenge that most people tend to have is not in budget-making per se, but rather, in sticking to the budgets. So you need an app that goes beyond helping you to create a budget. You need an app that actually helps you stick with the budget – and indeed, there are some budgeting apps with such capabilities.