Keeping track of your personal finances doesn't have to be complicated, but finding an approach that works for you can require some thought. For example, dropping all your receipts into a shoebox is easy on a day-to-day basis, but you'll probably spend tax season in a cold sweat trying to make sense of it all. It gets easier if you put a bit of time into organizing your finances throughout the year, and a selection of useful apps on your tech devices can help.
Register Your Approval
One of the most fundamental tools for managing your finances is your checkbook register. It's a simple but effective way of recording your basic transactions. It'd be even more useful if you could use one register to track all of your accounts, and if it did all the tedious balancing for you at the end of the month. That's exactly what you get with an app such as Checkbook Pro on your phone or tablet. It keeps track of any number of personal and business accounts, and can export your data to a spreadsheet or accounting program when tax time rolls around.
The Full Picture
If the checkbook register was never really your friend, you might be more comfortable with an app that provides a more flexible interface and a broader range of tools. Visual Budget Pro is a fine example. You can enter your transactions as they happen, or import them electronically from your bank. It'll handle both personal and business accounts, so you'll always know how your work-related expenses and deductions stack up against your personal income. The app's rich reporting functions make it easy to visualize your progress through the year.
Invest in Some Oversight
Of course, not everyone falls neatly into a black-and-white world of earned income and straightforward expenses. If you're socking away money in an IRA or 401(k), or have an investment portfolio outside of those vehicles, you have a whole world of other details to track. Personal Finance, by Bishinew, can help. Aside from providing you with a wealth of investment-related information throughout the year, it'll track your portfolio in detail. At any moment, a few taps of the screen shows you the state of your portfolio, the investment cost of your holdings, and your all-important cost basis.
One of life's fundamental truths is that one size rarely, if ever, fits all. If you'd prefer to set up your own money-management system so you can have everything exactly the way you like it, a spreadsheet can still be the best way to roll. Whether it's a simple single sheet to manage your personal income and expenses, or a complex multi-page workbook for your investments or business costs, you can create a spreadsheet to manage them. Then, install OfficeSuite Professional on your phone or tablet. It can read, edit and create Excel-compatible sheets, so you can always keep up to date even if your computer is hundreds of miles away.
The Whole Nine Yards
If you run your own company, or earn a significant part of your income from self-employment, your finances and tax situation call for serious management. That's exactly what you get with Zoho Books, full-scale accounting software that runs on your phone or tablet. Your data's maintained on Zoho's secure servers, where you can sync it in moments to any other device at home or at work. Whether you're a one-person show or part of a growing organization, it's a full-blown accounting package that gives you all the information you'll need in April.
Form and Function
In the days of paper-only forms, finding out at the last minute that you were missing a necessary schedule or addendum could be a major source of stress. Thankfully, the modern-day IRS provides a lengthy list of forms as downloadable, fillable PDF documents, so locating a critical form is no longer an issue. Downloading forms as you need them, through the year or in the month or two before tax time, can be a real convenience. With qPDF Notes Pro installed on your phone or tablet, you can download, fill, and digitally sign IRS forms wherever you are.
Photo Credits: Shauna Hundeby/Demand Media
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