Calculating expenses

The iPad 2 is an excellent tool for tracking expenses, which is good, because it is one. It’s also very useful to track your use of time, and again, there’s a potential Doctor Who recursive loop possible there because it can suck up masses of that stuff too. Let’s be honest: it’s really cool, and you wanted to buy one, and now you realize you have to carefully track expenses and time management because another indulgence like that could be very bad for your finances. Luckily there’s an entire array of financial tools for your brand new toy, so effective they’ll help you save enough to pay for it, and so useful you can now use the word “tool” instead. Because that sounds better.

PCalc Lite Calculator1. PCalc Lite

Free (plus expansion packs for ~ $1)

We’ll get to the big boys in a minute, because PCalc Lite is an essential addition for everyone. It turns the iPad into an immense calculator — no tracking, no rows and columns, just great big buttons and a retro-LCD display. And anyone who can’t see the point has never really worked. Excel spreadsheets might be the bees knees for presentations and quarterly reports, but anyone who’s actually had to deal with things has ended up with scraps of paper, piles of files, and a nice red pen to get the things you plug into those nice spreadsheets.

PCalc Screen

PCalc Lite Calculator Screen

This fast and free calculator means you’re never stuck for some simple calculations. And unlike the desktop computer, you can still type in fifty-five million, three hundred and seventy eight thousand and eight, and laugh. For old times’ sakes. The base app is free, and useful industry-specific packs can be installed for less than a dollar.

Digits Calculator2. Digits Calculator

$1.99

The next advance in iPad calculation goes even further back in time, to the days of tape and hand-cranked accounting tapes. Why? Because you’re not a robot! (Bear with us a moment here.) The thing about masses of numbers is that the human brain isn’t perfect at them, what with having been designed to swing around trees and work out which other monkeys were attractive — there wasn’t a lot of math in our original design, is what we’re saying. The Digits Calculator records calculation tapes of every operation, meaning you can read over your results and simply tap any errors to change the number instead of redoing the whole thing.

Digits Calculation Tape

Digits Calculation Tape

Past tapes can be name and saved, making this an excellent tool for both business and around the home.

OmniGraffle3. OmniGraffle

$49.99

A Smartlife favorite, combining planning and imagination in one mind-mapping solution. The expanded workspace with touch-enabled drag and drop means this app benefits more than most from the iPad’s vast screen. OmniGraffle is excellently suited to setting up workflows and checking the consequences of new outlays — so while Excel might tell you how much an action will cost, OmniGraffle lets you clearly include that number in a potential workflow beside all the alternatives.

OmniGraffle

OmniGraffle

Because expenditure is a linear process. Every action has consequences, and half an hour spent sketching out the various options can save you years of expense down the line. It’s by far the most expensive application on this list, which might sound counter-intuitive for an expense-tracking article, but billing is just one among scores of smart uses for this program.

iXpensIt4. iXpensIt

$4.99

Indispensable for the business traveler, FYI Mobileware’s iXpensIt saves you from scraps of paper (and losing money if you lose any of them). Instead of bundling up receipts and turning even the most professional office into a data-entry pool every time you need to claim expenses, simply snap a photo of any receipt when you pay the bill and keep a permanent record. Email backups mean that even if you lose your phone, you won’t lose your remuneration.

FYI Mileage5. FYI Mileage

$2.99

Another excellent app from FYI Mobileware, this mileage-metering app eliminates any confusion in gas claims. In fact, it delivers far more data than even the most pedantic claim-checker could possibly want.

FYI Mileage Screen

FYI Mileage Screen

Dedicated to their mission of eliminating clutter, FYI Mileage can even export results directly into iXpensIt. It’s nice to see software which understands it’s their to save you hassle, not make you play with it.

Time Master + Billing6. Time Master + Billing

$9.99 (plus $9.99 Invoicing Upgrade)

What about when you’re the expense? Time is money, especially when you’re a contractor, which is what makes this app so useful — there’s no point in spending four hours earning good money only to waste another compiling your invoices. That’s a self-inflicted 20% pay cut, aka, “the exact opposite of what a smart living person would do.”

Time Master + Billing Screen

Time Master + Billing Screen

Time Master + Billing might sound like Doctor Who with a pugilist male assistant, but it’s powerful touchscreen tracker and invoice generator. Simply punch in and out of various projects to track their cost, and (with an optional upgrade) generate email-ready pdf invoices at the touch of a button.

Image credit: bluestocking / iStockphoto

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