Business expenses can sneak up on you. Forget those monthly subscriptions you said “yes” to, and you might face hundreds of dollars in unexpected expenses at quarter’s end.
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One of the hardest parts of running a business is managing your expenses. With so many business services and subscriptions clocking in monthly fees to your bank account these days, it’s easy to justify a couple of $15 monthly fees, but then find yourself hundreds of dollars over budget at the end of the quarter.
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So, while it may sound obvious, that old rule needs to be repeated: In both business and personal life, you need to know where your money is going. That’s crucial for keeping things under control. Thankfully, a handful of apps and programs are out there to help you track your spending, lower your bills and generally stay aware of (and on top of) your business’s financial situation.
Truebill is a great example of an app you can use to track and manage your finances. Install the app, connect your accounts and watch the app develop a report of where your money is going. All of your subscriptions and expenses will be categorized; your finances will be charted in a nicely visible graph; and you’ll always see at a glance the level of cash you have on hand.
One bonus feature you may particularly like with Truebill is its “lower bills” feature. With this feature, the app looks for subscription services you’re paying for — like phone, internet, cable and other bills – and compares them to average service levels. You can then initiate a savings process through which Truebill will call your provider and negotiate on your behalf!
Be forewarned that Truebill will charge for this: 40 percent of your eventual savings. You can save more by negotiating on your own, but on the other hand, who has time for that?
Mint is one of the original financial tracking apps, aimed primarily at personal customers but useful for business as well. Mint tracks bills and cash flow by automatically importing information from your connected accounts. Again, having this information available at a glance gives you the ability to see where your cash is going and what expenses you may need to cut.
Mint also has a small business tool called Quicken MyBusiness, which helps categorize expenses as personal or business, and gives you information up-front for tax-filing. Mint is owned by Intuit, the makers of TurboTax and former owners of Quicken –hence the name.
Related: Here’s Why It Pays to Track Every Tiny Business Expense
Truebill and Mint are primarily aimed at personal use, though they can certainly be used by entrepreneurs and very small businesses. Larger businesses will need something a little more professional and business-oriented. That’s where platforms like Zoho Books come in.
Zoho is a business platform and ecosystem with a variety of different apps for different purposes. Zoho Desk is a help-desk platform, Zoho Mail is a mail manager and Zoho Books is an accounting platform.
Zoho has features that businesses need, to keep track of their financial transactions in one place. Rather than just connecting to an account and categorizing data, the platform operates as a full accounting system. It can create and track invoices, manage payables and inventory, monitor banking accounts, generate reports and even handle time-tracking for employees. The per-organization rate starts at $9 per month.
Xero is another accounting platform aimed at small and mid-sized businesses. It is, if anything, even more robust than Zoho. It handles payments, asset management, bank account reconciliation, expenses, invoicing and purchase orders. It also helps with sales tax calculations, provides multi-currency accounting and can handle quotes.
Accessible by both desktop and mobile platforms, Xero is a perfect way to keep abreast of your finances at all times. Pricing starts at $9 a month just as Zoho’s does, though with limited features for introductory accounts.
Too many budgeting systems rely on after-the-fact analysis, which is what makes PlanGuru stand out. Instead of reconciling your finances and helping you “do better next time,” PlanGuru helps with strategic planning and analysis to predict future expenses and keep them from getting out of control.
Related: 9 Business Expenses You Can Reduce or Eliminate to Save Thousands
That’s not to say that PlanGuru is perfect. Its business plans start at a pricey $99 per month. But this price includes the system’s budget and forecasting platform, its analytics dashboard, an Excel add-on, and training; so the program is quite useful, though the cost is still an order of magnitude more than the other options on this list.
Is the extra expense worth it for your business? That depends on you.