Finance

Keep track of your financials with these apps. Here you’ll find our reviews of the best Finance apps.

BudgetBook

BudgetBook: Helping You Keep Track of Your Money

BudgetBook

BudgetBook is an iPad-only app made by the same developers as my favorite iPhone finance application, MoneyBook (you could have guessed from the name right?). The app is very well designed and has a lovely user interface which is a joy to use. The goal of BudgetBook is to let you keep track of your transactions in relation to a monthly budget you set, for total spending as well as category-specific budgets. In my view, this is the best way to keep track of your transactions and the only real reason you need a separate app compared to your internet bank. What makes the app as good as it is, is that it is simply and easy to use. Adding a new transaction doesn’t take you long, nor does setting up your budget (if you know what budget you wish to give yourself that is). You are able to set up several different accounts, each with their own transactions, however an overall budget for all the accounts.

What I would like to see!

The budgets feature, although really good, has one major flaw in my eyes. When adding income as part of the category budget (salary) it will say “100%” when you haven’t added a salary transaction. While this is the desired effect on expenses, income should be the other way around. With zero transactions for income, you have reached 0% of the budget. This may seem small, but for an application called “BudgetBook” it should be a non-issue. Since the same developer also makes MoneyBook with a My.MoneyBook cloud service, I would like to see some integration between these two applications. Being able to enter transactions on one device is fine, but both with syncing would be the killer feature.

Conclusion

As with MoneyBook, what I like about BudgetBook is that it is indeed so simple. Aside from the fact that it has got a gorgeous user interface, the app is very fast to use. It does not take you long at all to get your transactions into the app which is a big deal if you are going to use this on a daily basis. As our internet banks get more sophisticated, I like that the app just helps me find out how I am doing in relation to my budget. For these reasons, I would definitely recommend you getting BudgetBook if you want a solid finance app for the iPad that helps you keep track of where your money is going. Download BudgetBook for iPad here for $2.99 iTunes

MarketDash

MarketDash for iPad

One of the Apps that's missing from the iPad that Apple never ported over from the iPhone is the Stocks App. On the iPhone it's built-in, but on the iPad it's not. While you could argue that many people on the iPhone don't use the Stocks App, it just seems odd not to build it for the iPad. Since I am a Stocks App user I went in search of the "Best" Stocks App for the iPad. I've used a few Apps and they all seem to suffer from the same problem. Too complex! The native iPhone Stocks App is EASY, SIMPLE and CLEAN. I wanted that same experience on my iPad. My search ultimately led me to the Yahoo! MarketDash App. It has a big beautiful display. It's Easy to use. You can either use the App in a stand alone-fashion where you manually enter the stock symbols you want to track or you can log into your existing Yahoo account. 

The only thing that I would like to see added to this App is a Push Notification feature for when a stock hits a certain price. Otherwise, there's nothing else to say! If you want a stock App to keep up on your favorite stocks that's simple to use and best of all FREE, this is it!

You can get MarketDash for Free here from the iTunes

square

Square Allows The Little Guy To Accept Credit Cards on iDevices

   

Any business owner will tell you that you that they have to provide multiple ways for their customers to pay. Accepting credit cards can be the key in many cases to getting the sale. Although we've seen a few credit card processing Apps for iOS devices, all the ones I've seen to date require you to setup a merchant account (no big deal) and/or pay monthly fees. It's the monthly fees that have kept me from doing this. I was already paying a monthly fee to Propay to accept credit cards individually and to Paypal (Virtual Terminal) for my non-profit organization. I didn't want to have to incur yet another monthly charge for my very low volume of transactions. Leave it to my non-techie sister to turn me on to this gem. Square allows just about any US based person to accept credit cards on their iOS devices WITHOUT having to pay monthly fees. You download the App, setup your account and you're in business.

 

How does it work?

First step is to download the App. You can't really do anything without it. Once you download the Square App you can setup your account right in the App itself. You will be asked for some identity verifying questions similar to those that are asked when verifying your credit that only you would know. At that point you're pretty much ready to accept credit cards. Although the App lets you setup an account on the spot, you will still need to log into the website to "finish" the setup process to take full advantage of the service. From the site you can order your Card Reader (FREE) that plugs into your iDevice. You'll also be able to setup which of your bank accounts you want your funds automatically deposited into. Although I was all set and ready to go, I waited for the Card Reader to arrive before testing my first transaction. The Card Swipe thingy arrived within 5 days. You can enter the card data manually, but I wanted the full experience first :) The App is pretty slick and is Universal for all iOS devices. Authorizations can take place over 3G or a WPA protected WiFi connection. It's fast and easy. Just enter the amount, an optional description and swipe the card. Once the transaction goes through the funds will be deposited into your bank account the next business day (or how ever many days it takes your bank to clear the electronic transfer). Although there are no limits on the number or amount of the transactions, your initial account will be limited to $1,001 per week of transfers. Say you charge $1,500 in a week. Square will deposit $1,001 into your account the next day and the remainder within 30 days. You can request a higher transfer amount if you need one, but you might have to pay a fee for that. 

 

The App Works Great

Although it's a Universal App, you get a few more features on the iPad than you do on the iPhone/iPod touch because of the larger screen real estate. While you can enter the amount, description and even take a photo on the iPhone of the item you're selling, on the iPad you can have predefined items to choose from. For example, I'll be using this for my computer users group. We have 7 levels of membership/renewals that each have a different price. I was able to set each one up and assign it a one-touch graphic on the iPad. This way if I'm processing a "New Member" app I can just tap the New Member Button to add that item to the transaction. That's another thing, on the iPad you can have multiple items on a single transaction and it will add them up for your single charge. Once the charge is authorized the person can sign right on the screen with their finger or a stylus. At this point you can sent an optional receipt via SMS or Email. 

 

A few things I'd like to see

I think it's great that you can email a receipt, but I can't believe that they don't give you the ability to choose an existing contact to email to. You have to manually key in the email address each time. Although the App allows you to enter the card information manually, you have to "sign" at the end of the process. This is fine if the person you're charging is standing there. This doesn't work well for processing mail or phone orders. For those I just wrote "on file" to get past the signature screen. Lastly, the receipts are nicely geotagged (see a sample above and at the end of the post). This is fine for doing business in a public location. However, if I'm processing mail/phone orders from home I don't want my "home" address on the receipts. Luckily you can skip the receipt in those cases. Other than these few things, this App and Service totally rock!
 

The Bottom Line

If you're an individual or small business and you've wanted to accept credit cards but you don't do enough volume to justify paying a monthly fee, this is your answer. Square will save me about $50/month in fees that I was paying to my other two services. Their transaction fees are reasonable and I love the fact that this turns my iDevice into a credit card terminal for FREE!

Thank you Square for providing this solution for the rest of us :)

 

You can download the Square App for Free here from the Square - Square, Inc.

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DataMan

DataMan Helps You Monitor & Geotag Your iPhone Data Usage

Most of us iPhone old-timers in the US were grandfathered in to AT&T's Unlimited Data Plans. However, for new subscribers those data plans are gone. You now have to choose between a 200MB/month ($15/month) or 2GB/month data plan ($25/month). Of course if you're on a limited data plan here in the states or abroad you're going to also want to know when you're reaching your limits. There are a few different ways of checking your data use if you're on AT&T. You can *3282# from your iPhone and you'll get back an SMS displaying your current month's data usage. AT&T also provides an App to check your account information and usage. While these methods work, they require you to actually remember to check manually. DataMan is a neat little App that provides you more real-time data usage information while running in the background under iOS 4. Best of all you can set your own usage monitors and alarms. You can set a daily, weekly and monthly threshold for how much data you want to use and then be alerted to the fact that you're about to go over or have gone over your own preset allowance. The App does something that the AT&T methods don't and that is it not only tracks both 3G AND WiFi usage, but it even geotags where you were using the data. This key for travelers that want to data roam. 

Do I need unlimited data?

If you're on an unlimited plan it's probably easy for you to dismiss this App. However, this app will help you answer the question "do I need unlimited data?" AT&T does offer a cheaper DataPlus plan that's limited to 200MB of data a month. I would dare say that there are a lot of people out there that could get by on this plan and save money. With DataMan you could track your usage on both 3G and WiFi for a couple of months to determine whether or not you really use more than 200MB or 2GB's of data each month?

A couple of Warnings! This App REQUIRES iOS 4! So if you're not running iOS 4 it may not even show up in the App Store as a download for you. Secondly, the App DOES need to run in the background in order to track your usage. You will notice that the Location indicator in the upper right corner is ALWAYS active. I asked the developer about battery life impact running Location Services all the time and he assured me that his App was using the new low power option in iOS 4 that only checks the location when you change cell towers. He claims to easily 30 hours of battery life between charges. I too have not seen any significant change in battery life on my iPhone 4 since running the App. YMMV!

You can get DataMan here from the DataMan

 

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checkpleaseforipad

CheckPlease for iPad

Honestly I never thought that I'd be reviewing another Tip Calculator, let alone one specifically for the iPad. The thing about Tip Calculators is that usually once you have one that you like, there isn't really much more that you need. My favorite Tip Calculator for the iPhone is BigTipper. I love the UI (User Interface) and it has all the features (I thought) I wanted. Also In the beginning I never thought I would have my iPad out in a restaurant. However, more and more I find myself using it especially if I'm eating alone or during a lunch/dinner meeting. When the check comes and I need to figure out the tip I either do it in my head or I reach for my iPhone. Granted, any calculator can figure out a tip. There's not a lot of math going on there. :) What I like about a dedicated Tip Calculator is the ease of use of doing things like adjusting the percentage, not tipping on the tax and rounding up. Although there are several Tip Calculators on the App Store, many of them miss one or more of these basic requirements or their UI's are horrible. If I'm going to have a Tip Calculator, let alone pay for one, then it has to have EVERYTHING I need. After my last breakfast meeting, I started thinking about getting a Tip Calculator for my iPad. Although BigTipper runs fine on the iPad, I want a native iPad App whenever I can get one. I want one that not only works on the iPad, but looks great on the iPad's large display.

CheckPlease for iPad does what I want and even offers a unique feature

Let's start with my minimum requirements: Great UI!, easily adjustable percentage, the option to not tip on the tax, the ability to round up/down, and it has to be fast and easy to enter the total of the check (some of the early tip calculators defaulted to the alphabetic keyboard-doh!), lastly although I never use it, it should have the option of splitting the bill (people just expect to have that option). CheckPlease for the iPad has all of this of course or it wouldn't be getting a review here. However, it has one thing that I never thought of, but did run into recently. It has the option of adding in a coupon or gift card. Just the other night I was at dinner with some friends and I had a gift card to the restaurant that I wanted to use on the bill. The amount of the bill was more than the gift card, so I was going to have to pay the difference. In this situation the waiter/waitress should still get the full tip amount AND once the coupon/gift card is deducted you want to be able to see the proper totals to fill in for the payment. CheckPlease for iPad allows you to easily add in a coupon or gift card with a single tap. It's a small thing, but it's one that I hadn't seen yet on any other App in this category. Lastly CheckPlease for iPad integrates with PocketMoney. I don't use PocketMoney, so this feature doesn't mean anything to me. What I would like to see though is the ability to keep the history of your transactions right in the App like BigTipper does. Otherwise, I'm completely happy with this App!

You can get CheckPlease for iPad here from the CheckPlease

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