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Resolution Reboot: Using Android to Manage Finances

January 27, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka

Android, Android Apps, Finance

Resolution Reboot: Using Android to Manage Finances

Androinica.com is profiling Android apps that help fulfill a New Year’s resolution. This installment highlight apps that can improve someone’s financial situation.

The global financial crisis has inspired mass uneasiness among investors and consumers alike. Fear not Android fans, for your cellular phone has a few tools that can keep more money in your pocket and bank account. Several apps can track a stock portfolio; however, the average user would most benefit from the apps geared towards other areas of money management.

Economic empowerment begins with understanding your financial health and then creating a plan to maintain or strengthen it. That means you’ll need a handy tool like Budget Droid to manage the flow of income and expenses. Budget Droid creates a manageable budget based on user-defined categories and then logs each transaction. The app is a deterrent for wasteful spending because it provides monitoring options for common labels such as bills, entertainment, savings, and miscellaneous expenses. For instance, it’s less likely that someone will consistently spend $10 a day on lunch if he or she budgets only $40 a week on such expenses. Budget Droid highlights overspending and encourages wiser decisions concerning someone’s spending habits.

Personal finance blog Getrichslowly.org states that there are a number of ways to create a budget suiting each individual’s needs and goals.  Regardless of the method chosen, Budget Droid makes sticking to spending limits easier by logging expenses and quickly displaying how much money remains in each category. It can even export a budget into CSV format, which is readable by Excel or other spreadsheets and database management software.

Before spending a dollar, it’s also important to monitor how much money you have available. It would be overkill to suggest using Budget Droid and one of the many digital checkbooks that Android offers, but be mindful of unexpected expenses like car repairs and how it can affect your checking/debit card balance. Bank of America and Visa customers have the benefit of mobile apps that can help monitor account activity, so use them to determine balances or reign in credit card spending.

finance_02.jpgCutting down on purchases is also an ideal way to save money; however, people are destined to consume, so they might as well save money while building their Blu-ray or video game collection. When it’s time to spend those discretionary funds, Shop Savvy or Compare Everywhere can maximize spending power. We’ve already mentioned both among the best free apps that Android offers, and they’re proven cost-cutters. Shop Savvy scans a product’s barcode or name and then searches for prices by local and online retailers. The results let consumers price compare a product found in Best Buy and discover if they can save money by visiting the nearby Target (or even order it from BestBuy.com and do in-store pick-up to save even more). Reducing expenses is a fundamental part of saving money, so it’s wise to employ a tool like Shop Savvy or Compare Everywhere to spend less.

If all else fails, the last hope for keeping a finance-related resolution is to earn more money. That’s easier said than done in the current economic climate but definitely possible. Pure RSS or OI News Reader can make finding a higher-paying job or extra work easier by organizing several RSS feeds into one central location. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) organizes web content into a central location, which can severely decrease the amount of time spent browsing the web. Pure RSS organizes these feeds based on job fields or terms maintained by employment sites like Indeed, Elance, and Craigslist. Posts can be sent directly to your phone without having to visit each site individually. When I have a few free minutes throughout the day, I use this technique to check for freelance writing opportunities from more than 35 different websites. Reading these openings in Browser or Google Reader Mobile would take much longer.

Setting up feeds in Pure RSS or OI News Reader is as simple as entering the feed URL and pressing “Enter.” Both programs can use the Copy & Paste clipboard technique to enter addresses. OI News Reader even has an option to open Browser and search for feeds online, but I prefer to gather them all on my laptop and just enter the URLs into the app manually. Pure RSS provides notifications of feed updates, so be sure to customize the settings to determine how often to check for updates. Shorter periods use more battery life.

Managing your finances is a job unto itself, but it’s one that pays well if done correctly. Altering a few habits and resolving to do better in this area can make that job much easier. Take advantage of the tools Android offers and the money spent acquiring that useful phone will be a very justifiable expense.