Welcome to the spending season here on the East End. I call this the spending season because now is the time of year when everyone is sprucing up their homes, opening their pools, eyeballing that fancy new convertible…and paying taxes.
That’s right, it’s mid April, which means that most of you have recently written (or will soon be writing) your annual check to Uncle Sam. It can be a depressing time of year. But technology can reduce the pain by making it easier to keep track of what money you have left after visiting your accountant.
Can you do your taxes on your iPad? It’s definitely possible. Should you do your taxes on your iPad? Probably not.
Even the 1-percenters out there (you know who you are) can always use help with financial planning and real-time money management. So to mark the coming of Tax Day, here are two phone apps that can help you manage your finances—and maybe save a little cash.
Basic Money Management: Mint
Mint is a popular website and mobile application that lets you manage your money. One of Mint’s best features is price: it’s free. Since this column is about saving money, that’s definitely worth noting.
Another plus is convenience. Mint lets you link all of your accounts—checking, savings, IRAs, even credit cards—into one single place, to provide a truly accurate, global picture of what your money is doing at any given time. Mint also categorizes your transactions for you and delivers the information with easy-to-read, accurate graphics. This might seem like window dressing, but Mint saves a lot of time and effort by automatically cross-referencing monthly bills, paychecks, and more.
Security is always an issue with financial apps. Mint hasn’t reported any major security breaches, and the app uses fairly rigorous password protections. To go even further, the Mint platform sends you alerts whenever there’s suspicious activity on your accounts—something that banks rarely do. The system also sends reminders to your mobile phone whenever your bills are due, potentially saving a lot of money in late fees and other penalties.
Another nice feature is how Mint links in to Turbo Tax and other financial services. You don’t have to use these services, but Mint is one of the only apps that can truly link all of your accounts and financial features into one place.
Bottom line: in a world where most people freely share their credit card info online, Mint is a pretty safe bet and very easy to use. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Money Saving + Coupons: iSlick
Mint is a great app to organize your bills and track your savings accounts. But what about your spending?
There are lots of apps available that alert you to sales, free giveaways, coupons, and more. But none of them work together. If you want to compare prices between two or more digital stores, you need to manually search each of them, one after the other. Most of the time you end up buying from the first search result because it’s too much of a pain to shop around and compare.
That’s where iSlick comes in. This free app scrapes many of the web’s most popular deal and shopping sites—Amazon, Groupon, and others—and pulls together all the data into a single search.
So if you’re looking for a deal on HD TVs, for instance, you enter the model you’re looking for, just like searching at an individual site. iSlick retrieves pricing results from many different sources, to give you a true snapshot of which place is offering the best deal.
Even better: it’s not limited to shopping sites. You can search for coupons, local deals, swaps, exchanges, and more. iSlick is fairly comprehensive and provides more purchasing options on each item.
Considering the price—it’s free—this is another app that can pay for itself very quickly and perhaps save you a lot of money over the long haul.
And that’s a good deal no matter what tax bracket you’re in.