You already know your iPhone can check email, take photos, watch movies, play music, save money, and oh yeah, make phone calls. But did you know it can also deposit checks, calculate the correct tip in a French café, and file your taxes? Here are six apps that make managing your money fun.
Schwab (free): I just deposited a check with my phone. How great is that? Using Charles Schwab's mobile app, I simply snapped a pic of the front and back of the check, and it was in my account just hours later. It's so much fun that I want to write a bunch of checks to myself just so I can deposit them. Schwab's app also lets me do lots of other nifty things, like check my account balances, transfer funds, and trade stocks. Not a Schwab customer? Many banks offer free mobile apps with some or all of the same features.
Receipt Loader (app is free; requires monthly plan starting at $7): If you travel or entertain often for work, this app is a lifesaver. Using your iPhone's camera, you just take a photo of your receipt and Receipt Loader identifies the key information and stores it for you. When it's time to submit that expense report, just export into one of several file types or email directly from your phone. You'll never forget an expense or lose a receipt again! The monthly service plan isn't cheap, so this app is really best for those who regularly deal with expense reports.
Mobile Receipt (free for up to five receipts per month) is good for those who don't need such a robust solution. It has features similar to those of Receipt Loader, minus the automatic data recognition.
Keep Your Spending in Line
Hate to budget? Me too, but Mint.com makes it as pleasant as possible, and its companion mobile app makes it convenient to boot. Both the Mint.com account and the Web app are free, and setup takes just 10 to 15 minutes. Mint taps into your banking and credit card accounts and tags your expenditures according to categories that you set up. The spending categories are completely customizable, so along with boring necessities like gas and groceries, you can track spending on anything under the sun -- like shoes, lattes, and concert tickets. Your account balances update automatically, so you can get an up-to-date snapshot of your finances anywhere, anytime -- like when you're pondering a new pair of heels -- to make sure your actual spending stays in line with your plans.
Make Taxes a Breeze
TurboTax SnapTax (free to download; $20 to file): SnapTax is aptly named -- if you qualify (1040-EZ filers, I'm talking to you), you literally snap a photo of your W-2, answer a couple of quick questions, and the app files your return. Download your form for your records and sit back and wait for your refund to arrive. It really is a snap!
Put Your Kids to Work
iAllowance ($3.99): There are so many great free apps out there that it's rarely worth paying for one unless it's (1) really fun (e.g., Angry Birds HD) or (2) solves a serious problem. On that second count, I can happily recommend iAllowance for anyone who has kids who want to buy stuff. iAllowance creates accounts for each money-grubbing little one, which you can customize in a number of ways to fit your family. Set up a regular allowance, chores they can do to earn extra cash or time on the Xbox, long- and short-term savings goals, and more. Next time they ask for that video game, action figure, or -- in my daughter's case – a pony, you can whip out your phone to show them the money (or lack thereof).
Act Like a Local
Did you know that tipping in Japan is considered an insult? Or that you're expected to tip on your first drink in a Canadian bar, not wait until you close out the tab? Another handy problem-solving app, GlobeTipping, is a must for any world traveler, whether you're just heading to Paris for a long weekend or globe-trotting for a month. Save yourself from embarrassment, confusion, and bad service with GlobeTipping's guidance on a wide range of potential tipping situations around the world.
For even more handy money management tools here are seven free apps that saved us nearly $70 instantly.
Motley Fool writer Robyn Gearey owns none of the companies mentioned in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Charles Schwab.