iPhone App Sherpa: Track Your Pennies

One of the most fundamental ways to improve one’s personal finances is by setting a budget. But even typing that sentence felt mundane and tedious. Fortunately, a cool app for the iPhone (Stock Quote: AAPL) lets you keep a steady record of your expenses and is actually (somewhat) fun to use.

Check out Pennies, a simple application that allows you to input your daily purchases and frequent expenses.

For many people, setting budgets and tracking spending falls into the realm of using debit cards and staying on top of your online banking. However, in light of new information gleaned from exposés in The New York Times (Stock Quote: NYT), it turns out debit cards can be more of a hassle than a budget safety check. This is why a “back-to-basics” budget system is a healthy and beneficial approach. For one, it will help you keep a more tangible grasp on your daily spending and secondly, with applications on your smartphone, you won’t have to plug away on computer software or wait till you get home.

One of the reasons Pennies tops my list of helpful apps in this category is due to its vastly superior design and user interface (take a look at a demo here). Sure, I’m a sucker for clean, functional design in any service, but you’ll have to admit that when it comes to frequent purchases and budgeting, this feature is especially handy. Users will also be pleasantly surprised to see how the design appears to be very Apple-esque with a flair for minimalism and an eye for aesthetics.

One of Pennies’ taglines is reiterating how it only takes “two taps” to update your budget. When you launch the app, you’ll enter your monthly budget using a slider. Then begin tracking your expenses by just tapping one of the 10 categories (General, Food, Amusement, Travel, Household, Auto, Hobby, Electronics, Personal, Groceries) and then tap again to enter the amount of your purchase. Pennies will automatically deduct from your budget and visualize this in your monthly budget “fuel gauge” graphic.

Afterward, you can review your expenses and find which categories you’re spending the most in. The entire app will take you less than 10 minutes to set up and become completely familiar with. There’s no heavy lifting involved here.

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