There are dozens of financial apps and tools available to help students keep track of their finance, from budgeting to grocery shopping. The number of choices, however, can be a bit hard to wrap your mind around.
National Post personal finance reporter Melissa Leong recommended four free phone apps and websites that all students should consider using. Technology reporter Alexa Huffman ranks how useful they are to students by giving each one a score out of ten.
You may be tired of all of the budgeting apps out there, but we promise this one is worth it. And it’s free! After entering your banking info and trying not to be paranoid about privacy, you will be treated to some colourful graphs and charts to help you manage your money. The most useful feature is the budgeting tool that allows you to categorize what you spend. The app also provides savings advice without the usual criticism you get when asking relatives for help with your finances. When the app recognized groceries as my biggest expense, it suggested I get involved with a grocery rewards program. Mint definitely beats using an Excel spreadsheet to deal with a tight student budget.
Receipts by Wave
Tip: don’t throw your receipt in the trash. Instead, take a picture of them, add it to this app and then throw them away. It will definitely help if you are running a small business or just want to track where your money goes. Receipts by Wave is supposed to take a picture of the receipt and take note of the details, but it may have trouble deciphering that receipt you crumpled in your pocket. My $40 Shoppers Drug Mart receipt came to total of $5, which I had to edit afterwards. I’d like to see a feature where you can manually add receipt data, but it’s a fantastic tool that takes away the need for that shoebox under your bed labeled ‘Important Papers.’
Face Retirement from Merrill Edge
I can’t stop thinking about my own mortality after trying out this face-aging website from Merrill Edge. Sure, this website may not be the best with budgeting tools and tips, but it will visualize your financial future. You enter your age, gender and take a photo with your webcam. Once you get over the shock of seeing your future self, you can look to the right of the screen and see what the cost of living will be in the future. It’s pretty bleak. Looks like we might be pushing retirement to our late 70s, even keeping in mind that this is an American website. But while this might be a serious subject, it’s a fun website to use. Face Retirement is like having a magic mirror that has no qualms about telling it how it is.
Sorry Ryerson students, but we are out of luck with SaveUp too. It’s designed for Americans, which is a shame because you can win awesome prizes, like a trip to Paris! It links directly to your bank account. When you add to your savings or pay down debt, you get credits, which can then be used for coupons or contest entries. You can also get credits for watching finance-related videos, completing quizzes and building a financial profile. Banking will always be a boring job for anyone other than accountants, so it’s nice to have a little motivation. It doesn’t help you manage your saving and payments, however, so you should rely on a different tool for that. But it does supply users with a real incentive to save. Add it next to Netflix and In-N-Out Burger on the list of reasons to be jealous of America.