Rent, utilities, equipment, furniture, inventory, licenses, insurance, marketing, staff — all sorts of expenses are required to run a small business. It’s essential to carefully track all of your spending to make sure you stay on budget, but not every business has access to the best accounting software. Fortunately, a host of quality money-tracking apps has made it easy to track your expenses. We researched dozens of popular expense-tracking apps to bring you our top picks.
We already know that QuickBooks is one of the most popular accounting software solutions for entrepreneurs, and the company’s app for expense tracking is also excellent. Compatible with iOS and Android devices, QuickBooks Self-Employed starts at just $7.50 a month for the first three months ($15 per month thereafter) and packs a serious punch in features. The app allows you to track business and personal expenses separately. You can automatically track mileage, create and send invoices no matter where you are, estimate taxes quarterly (no math required) and more. You can also pair QuickBooks Self-Employed with TurboTax for just $12 a month for the first three months ($25 per month thereafter) and enjoy a supereasy tax-filing process. As the name indicates, this app is best for self-employed entrepreneurs or owners of microbusinesses.
Pricing: For the first three months, the app starts at $7.50 per month; you can bundle it with TurboTax for $12 per month. After three months, the pricing goes up to $15 per month and $25 per month, respectively.
FreshBooks is a comprehensive cloud-based accounting program that starts at $8.50 per month for the Lite version of the software. However, if you own a small business, we recommend the $30-per-month plan, which allows an unlimited number of clients and an extra staff member, as well as offers several useful project management tools. Businesses that need everything FreshBooks has to offer can subscribe to the Premium plan, which brings your accounting power to the next level for $55 per month.
You can access FreshBooks on any iOS or Android device or laptop, making it a good option for entrepreneurs who want a fully functional accounting package that also has mobile expense-tracking abilities.
Pricing: The Lite version starts at $8.50 per month and increases to $17 a month after the first three months; the Premium version starts at $27.50 per month (and increases to $55 a month after the first three months).
Available on Android and iOS devices, Expensify is great for making expense reports on the go. A must for frequent business travelers, Expensify allows you to take photos of receipts and manually log expenses. When you take a photo of a receipt in Expensify, the app automatically reads the receipt and translates it into a logged expense. In addition, you can organize your expenses by categories, like mileage, travel and food. Best of all, Expensify is free for individuals and just $5 a month for teams. [Read related content: Best Android Accounting Apps for Your Smartphone]
Pricing: Individual use is free for up to 25 receipt scans per month; team pricing for unlimited scans starts at $5 per user per month (after a six-week free trial).
SAP Concur is the perfect business expense-reporting app for established (and growing) small and midsize businesses. In addition to offering the ability to track expenses, SAP Concur has built-in workflows for employee reimbursement, submissions and approvals, invoice tracking, vendor payments, travel booking and more. The great thing about SAP Concur is that you can build it out however you want, and it charges you accordingly (based on the features and number of users). SAP Concur is also a great choice because the company offers a suite of products for small businesses, so you can add more functionality as you need it. The app is free and available on iOS and Android for existing Concur customers.
Pricing: The app is free for existing Concur customers; noncustomers should contact Concur for a direct quote.
Empower Personal Capital is a full-featured investment manager for hire. It tracks and categorizes all of the expenses you make on your credit or debit card. The app creates charts indicating your monthly cash flow and breaking down your monthly expenses. It has two versions: the free financial dashboard and the wealth management service. The wealth management option provides an investment management option, which functions as a robo-advisor while providing live support. The free financial dashboard includes a budgeting tool and a cash flow analyzer. The app can also help you with retirement planning and provide an investment checkup.
Pricing: Full access to the financial dashboard is free; wealth management service fees start at 0.89 percent per year.
Wally is a colorful app with lots of great expense-tracking functionality. You can use Wally on an iOS device, and the basic version of the app is free. As with other expense-tracking apps, you can take photos of receipts directly in Wally or enter expenses by hand and categorize them accordingly. Wally also tracks your income and offers you projected savings for each month. With its focus on personal rather than business finance, Wally is a good fit for people who run microbusinesses or side hustles.
Pricing: The basic version is free; the full premium version (Wally Gold) costs $4.49 per month.
When Goldman Sachs’ Clarity Money app shut down in March 2021, its best features were integrated into the company’s Marcus brand. Within the Marcus app or on Marcus.com, you can find a collection of smart tools and trackers known as Marcus Insights. The app has an easy-to-navigate design and supports a wide range of external accounts. You can easily track your expenses at major merchant locations, monitor your cash flow and see a spending breakdown by category. The Marcus app is available on iOS and Android.
Pricing: The app is free.
Mint is one of the best expense-tracker apps for personal finance tools, and it’s a great option for microbusinesses or side hustles. Mint is free, supports a wide range of banks and lenders, and helps with expense tracking, bills and credit monitoring, and budgeting. It’s available on iOS and Android.
Pricing: Most services are free; premium credit monitoring services are $16.99 per month.
Mvelopes takes a suggested-spending approach, as opposed to analyzing how you have already spent your money. It prevents you from going overboard with your expenses and boasts the ability to help users create a budget in 15 minutes. The app works by having you put cash in various virtual “envelopes,” thereby establishing a budget you cannot exceed during the month. It’s available on iOS and Android.
Pricing: The Basic plan starts at $5.97 per month; the Premier plan typically costs $9.97 per month, after a 30-day free trial.
Under YNAB (You Need a Budget), you must account for every dollar you spend and work for every dollar you wish to spend. The app works on minimizing debt, as you can spend only what is within your income. It is available on iOS and Android.
Pricing: YNAB starts at $14.99 per month, after a 34-day free trial.
Whichever expense tracker you decide to use, you should look for one that can handle the following tasks:
An expense-tracker app should be able to track business expenses and monitor income. Tracking spending is important for not only maintaining healthy cash flow but also qualifying for deductions that could reduce your taxable income. It is also highly recommended to separate your business and personal finances to track each of them the most effectively.
An expense-tracker app should import transactions from your accounts, mobile wallets and credit cards. It should give you a clear image of how much you are making and how much your expenses are. The app should help you determine if expenses are feasible with your income.
A good app should allow you to capture all of your receipts when receiving or making payments. Each receipt should be placed under an appropriate category. These receipts are stored in the cloud and can be retrieved anytime. This feature is especially beneficial for employees who travel for business. As such, many receipt-tracking solutions are designed to function well on mobile apps, across various devices and with multiple linked accounts.
An app should categorize the tax required for payment after you key in your income and expenses. Of course, it is always helpful to understand which business tax deductions you can take (and which deductions you should avoid).
The app should accept debit cards, credit cards, net banking and bankers and connect directly to your invoice. From the app, you should be able to track the status of invoices and credit card bills. The app should automatically match your payments to your invoice and send payment reminders. In addition, you should be able to customize a logo for all of your invoices. [Read related content: Top Invoicing Apps for Businesses]
Expense apps should generate and run reports for profit and loss, expenses, income and balance sheets. You should be able to customize the reports to indicate business needs, as well as generate budgets and inventory reports.
Ideally, an expense app should double as an e-commerce solution. The app should connect to your preferred e-commerce application programming interface. It should also integrate credit cards to seamlessly track your sales from various payment methods.
An expense app should have a feature that allows you to add vendors and contractors and assign them to specific categories.
An expense management app should allow you to give another party, such as your accountant, secure access to your books. It should also allow specific access to certain functions of the expense management software, to reduce errors. Secure access allows you to assign work to particular users and increase your team’s productivity without compromising security. You can also create custom permissions for deposits, expense reports, balance sheets and sales transactions to maintain the security of sensitive data.
An expense management app should be able to track products and the cost of goods; it also should notify you when stock is running low. You should be able to create purchase orders and handle vendors directly in the app.
This feature allows you to create custom reports that are easy to understand with visuals and graphs. You can use the analysis of these reports to make financial decisions. Some of the best budgeting apps come with in-depth analysis tools to determine how well your business is doing. The past and present reports help you forecast future sales and business needs.
Automated reminders can help you improve your client relationships, cash flow and sales. This saves a lot of time that you would otherwise spend tracking bill payments and vendor transactions.
While keeping track of your business purchases can be overwhelming (especially at the onset), expense-tracking apps can make the process easier. Look for solutions that offer features such as on-the-go and cross-platform functionality, to help you save time and effectively manage your cash flow.
Without knowing what you’ve spent, it can be hard to understand your profit margins. Expense trackers not only help you keep your spending in check now but also provide an auditable record of your past spending data. That gives you a lot of insight that is helpful when you’re reviewing your business’s books and planning for future growth. When it comes to your business’s budget, you should know where every penny is going and how it contributes to your overall success. These top expense trackers can help you do just that.
Tejas Vemparala contributed to this article.