iPhone App Sherpa: Master Your Expenses

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In the iPhone app world there is a lot of overlap. That’s just a fact of life. Do a search through the App Store’s finance category and you’ll be inundated with different clever titles and colorful layouts for Tip Calculators and Expense Recorders (We’ve even reviewed one before).

One such application that seems to be making a name for itself in this category is the popular iXpenseIt, which reads like it was named by a 13-year-old girl via text message.

The latest updated versions of iXpenseIt ($4.99) and its free (but limited to 50 transactions) version, iXpenseIt Lite, were released recently on Oct. 2. The full ($4.99) version has quickly shot up to become the most popular paid application in the App Store. This is quite an impressive feat given the number of other similar apps out there. Additionally, look at that price tag. The $5 mark is considered a premium luxury in the app world, with most applications ranging from free to $1.99.

So here’s how it works. Like a lot of other simple expense reporters you just fire up the app and begin by entering the amount spent. You will then be prompted to categorize the type of spending (food, entertainment, transportation, etc.), form of payment (debit, credit, cash, check) and vendor name, all of which are optional depending on your needed level of detail.

Now, here’s where things get unique. With iXpenseIt, you can then see your purchases metered in what can best be defined as the battery life of your budget. Based on a pre-set monthly/weekly/daily budget amount, the app will begin deducting purchases and lowering the “battery meter” accordingly. It’s simple, fast, responsive and takes effect immediately. It’s also a good quick visual reminder.

One of the other additional features I enjoy with iXpenseIt is the one tap ability to take photos with your iPhone’s camera to supplement the purchase record. If you’re making several purchases at the same vendor for similar amount, this might be a good way to distinguish items. Also, if you're keeping track of these purchases for your job, you can easily take a photo of the receipt or the meal/item to verify with your accounting department (we all know how those guys are a bunch of sticklers when they get skeptical).

You might be saying this sounds very similar to the functionality your online banking allows you. That may be true, but when using multiple cards, multiple accounts and perhaps even some company money, things can get confusing unless they’re all in the same place.

For the average consumer, this is also a great way to keep in direct contact with your purchases. For many of us, it's just a simple swipe and the spending is out of sight, out of mind. Entering the transaction into a budget adds just one more layer of accountability, without taking up too much of your time. With the budget visualizer, you’ll also be able to easily avoid any of those pesky overdraft fees your bank racks up when you overspend on your account.

For an incredibly popular app, it is also surprising to see the high number of positive reviews. In May, CNN Money named it one of the best iPhone apps and PC World has called it one of the best office/personal productivity applications. Most negative reviews cite the lack of import capability from other spreadsheet programs (Excel, Quickbooks, etc.) and the limitations on categorizing purchases too generally.

Overall, I’d recommend giving iXpenseIt a try if you’re looking for a simple, well-designed application to track your spending and keep you on budget.

Summary

Application: iXpenseIt

Cost: $4.99

Use: Allows users to keep track of expenses and spending within a simple budget.

Download iPhone App via iTunes

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