DENVER - One of the best ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud is to keep a close eye on your finances. See any strange charges? What was that $23.50 for? How come I get a monthly recurring charge of $4.95?
Instead of just checking your accounts once a month when the bills are due, experts say check your accounts regularly to see where your money is going.
"I mean I have this routine, first thing in the morning, it's checking my bank account while brushing my teeth," said Charles Tendell, who specializes in consumer fraud investigations. "You know, if more people kept and eye on things like that you'd see these types of (fraudulent) transactions happening."
Here are 7 free apps, popular for Androids and iPhones, that can help you track expenses and manage your money.
- Mint Personal Finance
This is the veteran of all the money-managing apps and a long-standing favorite. It allows you track, budget and manage all of your checking, savings, credit card and investment accounts and alerts you to when a bill is due or when you're over your budget.
Manilla helps you simplify and manage your daily finances, household bills, travel reward points, magazine subscriptions (it's owned by Hearst Corporation) and healthcare accounts. You can track spending habits over time to see if you're staying in your budget and add notes and attach photos/PDFs of banks statements and receipts for reference.
*Editor's note: We have learned that this app will no longer be supported after July 2014.
This app stays on top of your accounts so you never miss a bill or get hit with overdraft and late fees. When bills are due or funds are low, the app will let you know and lets you pay on the spot. If the app notices any large purchases or unusual charges, you will be notified by a push message and an email.
It tracks your spending, views all your accounts in one place, and protects your cards from fraud and unwanted charges. You can get alerts in real time when there are unwanted and unauthorized charges on your account.
- Level money
The simple user interface makes this app great for people with a select few accounts. The "meter" tells you how much you have to spend based on what has already been spent. It can be viewed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
This app, which defaults to a calendar view, helps show you what you spend your money on, make a plan and project how much money you’ll have in the future and gives you reminders for monthly bills.
- Your bank's app
It's likely your bank has an app for helping you keep track of your balance. Check out your bank's app to see if you like it and if you don't, leave a review in the app store for future improvement.