Back in my day in the corporate world, one of the most dreaded tasks was preparing the monthly expense report. Even though it meant getting reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenditures made in the course of the job, finding those little receipts and getting them into the report was a chore.
After leaving the corporate world and opening my consultancy, that task didn't lessen in importance. Although I was no longer getting reimbursed for those expenses, Uncle Sam still needed the receipts to let me claim them as legitimate expenses.
Things are different now with smartphone apps that turn this chore into a bit of fun. Little paper receipts can go in a shoe box after snapping a photo of them with the phone. Expense tracking apps snap the photo, then read the receipt for building a proper entry into the accumulative database. No muss, no fuss.
The following expense tracking apps are the best of the lot for the iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone.
Expensify for iPhone (also available for Android)
This free app handles all aspects of expense tracking on the iPhone. An image of a receipt can be snapped in the app as expected, and expenses can be imported from bank statements online. Expense entries can be automatically entered by forwarding copies of emailed receipts to the user's Expensify online account.
Expense reports can be emailed or output in PDF for submission. Expensify can also work with a wide range of financial systems for businesses.
One Touch Expenser for Android
As the title indicates, snap an image of the receipt to record and use it to fill out the item details later. The app is a lightweight finances manager, but can be used as an expense tracker with all of the expected features except one.
This app doesn't interpret photos of receipts. When a photo of a receipt is taken in the app, it sets a reminder to enter the details from the photo at a specified time and date. This eliminates the need to keep the paper receipt.
Trip Expenses for Windows Phone
This app makes great use of the Windows Phone interface to enter and track expenses. Like the other apps in this collection, entering an expense on the fly can be as simple as snapping a picture of the receipt.
You can track expenses on a daily basis, and group those made on a trip for reporting purposes. Expense reports can be emailed to others for approval.
Expenses can be entered with multiple currencies, a boon for international travelers.