I've tried tracking my expenses before, and for a while I was happy using Cost, which is perhaps the only expense tracker I've found that shows you your remaining balance, rather than your total expenses or remaining budget. When I worked out what I spent the most money on and where I could cut back I stopped tracking my expenses altogether, since it had served its purpose.
It was a relief to not track every single thing I bought, just as quitting Foursquare check-ins months ago was a relief (I took them up again when I got the Swarm app on my Pebble—way more convenient).
But recently I realised it was irresponsible and frustrating to not have solid records of my work-related expenses. It's a huge pain to track them all down at tax time, so I've started recording my expenses along the way again to save myself some trouble.
This also means I finally had a good excuse to try Sumptus.
I was drawn to Sumptus initially because of its design and natural language parsing. Most expense tracking apps either focus on being the most comprehensive way to keep track of your finances, or the fastest. I've tried several in the fastest camp, but the effortless entry of new expenses into Sumptus make it hands down the simplest approach I've tried.
In Sumptus I can type the amount I spent, a note describing what I spent money on, and the currency I used (handy when lots of online purchases are in USD but offline purchases are all in AUD) in one text field. The app parses these elements for me, just like Fantastical or other natural language calendar apps do.
Sumptus learns from my behaviour, too. Over time it learns what category I want to use depending on the note I add for an expense. If I type "breakfast", for instance, Sumptus automatically chooses the "Eating out" category for me because I've entered it more than once before. This makes common purchases and regular bills even easier to add.
Sumptus has a simple interface that makes it easy to find your way around. You can set up various budgets with limits on each one, or specific category limits. At first I wanted to use Sumptus just for tracking my expenses but when I tried the category budgets I was surprised to find that they're really useful.
In the expenses list Sumptus colours the background of each item in grey to show how much of that item's category budget you've spent. So each expense for groceries increases the grey shading for all the grocery expenses in the list. At a glance, I can see how close to hitting my limits I am.
Setting a budget on my shopping, eating out, and grocery categories has made me rethink how much I spend on these things, which tend to be where most of my money goes, apart from bills.
I have a shortcut to Sumptus in my Control Center (using an amazing jailbreak tweak called Polus), so I can get to it quickly. Adding an expense is so fast and easy that I do it as I leave a store, rather than putting it off.
If you're thinking of trying expense tracking, or you've tried it before and found it all too complicated, Sumptus is worth a look. Soon you'll be wondering why you can't use natural language in every app you use.
You can purchase Sumptus in the iOS App Store for $3.99 AUD.
P.S. Interested in tracking and understanding your life? Exist is designed to help you do just that.