You’ve opened your student checking account and there’s a shiny new debit card in your wallet, and maybe you opened up a line of credit.
Whether you’re a seasoned financial pro and you’ve had a checking account since first grade, or going off to college means you’ve never signed a check in your life, welcome to the world of money after high school.
You’re officially a college consumer, which means you’ll need more than a spreadsheet to help manage your cold hard cash. Everything from tracking what you use your money on, sending and receiving money to and from friends, to organizing a budget, these five apps will help you to stay on top of your expenses while you’re in school.
Mint is a financial aggregator app. Since you can link your financial accounts to Mint, the app takes a snapshot of how much you’re worth (money in your bank account and any investments you may have), with the difference between your debt (bills and credit cards). The app has a full suite of calculators to help you pay off debt or project how much you will make over a specific period of time. You can see where your money is going, what bills you have to pay, and the difference between your spending and the amount of money you bring in every month. You can set up alerts to remind you to pay your student loan bills on time, as well as create graphs of your spending over time.
Evernote is a multi-use online organizer. You may already use it for class notes and organizing your research. But leverage its effectiveness as a financial assistant. You can organize your receipts, the money people owe you or you owe them, and bills. With the built-in "Document Camera," take a picture of everything in your wallet with your cell phone and file it away. Create folders for “Bills” you have to pay or “Loans” for when people owe you money. Evernote does a fairly good job of guessing what goes where. Since information is synced in the cloud, you have access to your data whether you are on your smartphone or in your dorm room.
Splitwise helps you share expenses with your friends. You can add recipients with their email addresses, include the total amount owed, and the app will split the bill fairly and notify your friends. Once they pay up you can check them off the list. It also has a bunch of “calculators” to help with various financial tasks, from finding a room to rent, buying or selling furniture, and how much money you should give your friend if you crash on his couch.
Square will let you accept card payments on your phone. Once you download the mobile app, you will receive a free card reader in the mail. Tutoring high school students for the ACT, babysitting on the weekends, selling your old textbooks — you can make money and organize your invoices online. Square exacts 2.75 percent for every transaction you make and deposits your earnings into your bank account within two business days.
It’s easy to rack up on small purchases like coffee before class or an impulse buy while shopping. If you set a budget by the day, week, month, or year you can plan out those kind of purchases ahead of time and avoid running out of money at the end of the month to pay your cell phone or car insurance bill. You can make multiple lists for school expenses, like dining out, or school supplies, for example. You can set up payment alerts, and similar to Evernote, you can take pictures of your receipts. If you need to export your data into a CSV file, Expense Manager can do that too.
And, While You’re At it . . .
Look into whether or not your bank or credit union has a mobile app to download.
Consider getting Paypal. It’s a quick way to receive or send money.
If you are interested in more apps to help you stay organized in college, check out this article for suggestions: 6 Apps to Get You Organized for Freshman Year.