App review: Numbers (4 stars)
Pros: It's simple to use and free from the App Store if you have a compatible Apple device. It might be on there already, it was for me.
Cons: You have to put in a lot of information yourself, so it can be quite time-consuming.
For almost a year now I have been using the "Budget" template in Apple's Numbers app (the Apple equivalent to Microsoft Excel). Numbers came automatically on my iPad. I use it at the end of every month to get a detailed picture of my spending habits.
Through the Budget template I can separate out everything I have spent into categories of my choosing. Then I can browse easily by category. This shows me where I have room to save for the things I want in future.
For example, when I was preparing to move out of my parents' house recently, I was able to go through my spending patterns over the past few months.
It really helped me to pick areas to focus on cutting down spending in order to save. You might say I could get this information from my bank statement, but the way the data and my chosen categories are presented in the Numbers app is much more user-friendly and it has built-in mathematical equations.
It is similar to Microsoft Excel in that it's calculations are based off spreadsheet formulas.
There are built-in templates to monitor anything from your simple budget, personal savings, shared expenses (this is GREAT for house sharing) and retirement savings to investment performance over time. The formulas are there ready to go.
The only disadvantage to this is the time it takes me to put in all of the information in myself, but when I do it is so worth it.
This app was previously only available on Apple devices, but according to a recent update there is improved compatibility with Microsoft Excel. It also has an added "import" setting, which gives the ability to import data from databases and apps (for more on this, see this Macworld.com article).
To read what MoneyLens' Liam Hartley thinks of Microsoft Excel, click here.