I've been loaned an iPhone by Apple and sad as it may seem to some, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time this week obsessively checking out iPhone applications.
What really got me going on this quest was a small piece of technology called the Nike + iPod, which has nothing to do with personal finance. It attaches to your running shoe and tells you the distance covered and if you're keeping pace with your pre-set goals.
But this blog is about money and on that subject the possibilities for managing your money with an iPhone, Blackberry or even Twitter are many and very impressive.
It almost goes unsaid that you can check share prices, forex rates and read the latest markets news on a smart phone. That's first generation stuff.
It's the little nifty applications that have really impressed the closet techie in me. Applications such as iXpenseIT (or you can get HandyLogs Money for the Blackberry) are really cool in my humble opinion. This application tracks expenses such as mileage and other spending, which people often fail to claim back. You simply record every expense on your iPhone as it's incurred. It's even possible to photograph and automatically file the receipt if you need to.
Every dollar counts as I always say and simple applications can save large amounts of money. I quite like the Happy Family Shared Grocery Lists application on Blackberry. You can access family shopping lists from your Blackberry or any computer, actively syncing any changes. It also includes a built-in calculator to estimate your bill. There are several iPhone equivalents.
On the money saving side I also discovered MileageMeter for Blackberry and Distance Meter for iPhone, which enable you to track the fuel mileage of your car.
Another useful application is Loan $hark, which lets you calculate the actual cost of mortgages and other loan scenarios. Handy if you're a serial property investor.
There's a whole further dimension to these 'applications on the go' if you use Twitter from your mobile phone. There's Tweet What You $pend, in which you tweet your spending as you go, and it is categorised in a secure Cash Journal. There's also My Mile Marker, which allows you to track car fuel consumption. And if you have a lot of time on your hands, there is Twinancial, which pulls personal finance tweets from right around the world.
What I found gobsmacking is that some of this incredibly useful and powerful software is free, and other applications cost just a few dollars. What's more because people typically carry their phones with them, these applications are far more likely to be used than their computer based cousins.
Finally, if your friends never pay up when you're out for shared dinners, try DutchTab, which keeps track of who has paid and who hasn't. I wish that had been around when I was in my 20s.