Since I moved to USA some phone apps and websites have become an integral part of my life. When you come here, most probably you will end up knowing about these through friends anyways and would start using these regularly like me. Or may be you have not discovered these yet and then my efforts of writing about them would be worthwhile ! Anyways, I thought I should list out how money is “managed” here. When I say here, I mean I never had to use these apps when I was in India. Managing money amongst friends was play of good understanding. (“Aaj maine bhara kal tu bharle”). And some plus and minus, here and there was never an issue back then. But as soon as you put your foot on the land of States, you inevitably become that different person who always count shares. Specially when you come here as a student, every penny counts. Be it grocery shopping, rent, restaurant shares, outings or toilet tissues, you would want to divide everything equally. After all you are spending in dollars which means one dollar equals 65 something rupees which is a lot! (I know how hard it is to come out of “the conversion phase” in student life). Moreover, you would want to keep tab on your spendings (lets be honest which we never had to do back in India).
So, here are my top five apps/ websites for managing my money.
Splitwise is a god. It is everything, It is genius. I use website as well as phone app. And everyone I know uses this as well. This is basically an application which splits all your expenses fairly. You have to add friends in any expense that you want to split and it divides the bill for you. I have different groups with my roommates, and other friends. With my roommates, we put our rent, different bills every month and other household expenses here. And every month end we clear all expenses out. The best part is, it auto adjusts bills with common friends. Like, If I owe A and B and B owes C then it clears out the middle transactions. Ohh! Hard to explain but you will get it once you start using it. Moreover, whenever we go to any trips or picnics or any birthday parties anything at all, someone pays the expense and then put it on splitwise. I said its genius because, it gives you option to split taxes(!) and customize splitting like you know theres someone who takes the expensive drink for himself and then you don’t want to split for that, Splitwise takes care of that too ! There are many many options more you explore, more you will start loving it.
Now you split the bill with Splitwise and you know who owes how much to whom. But, now is the real trouble as you will find out that everyone has bank accounts with different banks and transferring money from one bank to the other is a hectic task. Thats where Venmo comes in picture. Venmo is an application by Paypal. But it is lot more friendly and easy to use. You have to put your card details or bank account details in the application and you are set. Venmo connects with Facebook and gets your Facebook friends automatically to you venmo friend list, convenient! Also, Splitwise is connected to Venmo. So, whenever you want to clear out any expenses on Splitwise, it directly gives you option to go to Venmo and you jus hit pay and you are set. Splitwise + Venmo is hands down the best application combo which is making lives very convenient.
Venmo is very similar to PayPal. PayPal is mostly for when you want to transfer money between two different bank accounts. I like to have option of PayPal as it is more private and better for transfering large amounts. I prefer PayPal over Venmo when I am transferring large amounts. Plus, for any online transactions I prefer using my PayPal account, as it gives me sense of safety and transaction security and trust. Rather than giving my card information I use my PayPal account. As card thefts are well known in USA. I myself have suffered from card thefts and false transactions through my account, so now I prefer PayPal wherever I have option.
This is I feel less known app.This phone application is developed by Intuit. And its very handy to track your expenses. You have to enter all your bank account details, all debit and credit cards. And then it works its magic. It gives you overview of all your earnings and spendings. Plus it goes deep and breaks your spendings down for you as to – you spent this much on transport this month, you spent this much on entertainment, you spent this much on grocery and so on. This app gives you option to set your monthly limits to control your spendings as well (!). So, whenever you go overboard, the app will warn you that you have spent more than you are supposed to. You get the picture how useful this tool is when you are on a budget.
This last one is very obvious one, but still I wanted to put it out explicitly. It is always handy to download an phone application of your bank. Almost all banks will have one. Common uses are very common 😛 like to check your balance, check statements, pay credit card bills etc. But, this is particularly helpful for depositing cheques. I had never deposited cheques through phone when in India. That something I did after coming here. And you will need to deposit cheques. As, your first salary, be it on campus job, internship or full time, your first salary comes as a cheque as it takes time to set your direct deposit account. So point is, if you are thinking you will never have to deposit cheque, trust me you will have to at some point. So, doing that is piece of cake with these bank apps. You just have to sign the cheque, take photo of it through the app and you are set. No need to visit the bank and fill out any slip.
These are my minimal must have apps for managing money as an international student.
Hey, are you also a Splitwise lover ?