How to Build an Effective Personal Finance Application
Effective control of money flows is our urgent need, and each of us solves the problem in our own way. However, if earlier people had to invent complex accounting systems to keep track of their earnings and expenses, today the situation has become simpler, and personal finance apps come to the rescue.
There is already a fair number of programs of this type, of course, but, with the right approach, you have the chance to join the market leaders. All you have to do is to create a financial app that will be intuitive, secure, and with useful features.
Though, the problem is too complex and worth a more extensive and detailed response. That’s why we dedicated the whole article to the issue of building the finance management app. Spend some time and attention on reading it and, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
What is a personal finance app?
Yes, money management apps have made their place in the sun, people use them everywhere to control their own monetary cycle. In fact, we should be grateful for the comfort these services provide, for, in the old days, the procedure wasn't an easy one. Fortunately, now, when the mobile program allows calculating the expenses on the go, the process no longer seems a nightmare. Well, you, as the one who decided to build a personal finance app, can even turn it into a source of profit.
Primarily, we should think of what people need. What are they expecting to get from the financial management software?
Functions the money management software apps perform
Financial saving apps are intended to perform very specific tasks, quite simple, but important. The main goal is to help the user manage his own budget.
Speaking of making money… We don’t mean global earnings, it’s rather about small investments and savings, however, as they say, a penny saved is a penny earned. Acorns and YNAB (popular applications of the sort) have taken a similar approach and benefited from it. Though, we'll go into more detail a bit later.
You don't need to solve all the above tasks in one fell swoop. Just come up with a personal finance app idea (try to find an unusual approach), "pack" it nicely (we’re talking about UI/UX part, of course), and act!
By the by, we have a great design concept to inspire your imagination.
Types of finance apps
There are many variations of financial management software, but all these programs can be divided into 2 basic types:
- simple applications which require manual data entry;
- complex services that automate the entry process (and have a number of other benefits, which we’re mentioning below).
Simple finance apps
This is the simplest type of money management apps when a user enters all the spending data on his own, simply by hand (manually). These applications allow keeping track of expenses and categorizing them, planning large purchases, and the like.
- the human factor which increases the risk of mistakes (among other things, a person may be too lazy to enter the data);
- significant time costs.
- security (as bank cards are not linked to these applications);
- a simpler (and therefore cheaper) personal finance app development process.
The tediousness of manually entering data needs to be somehow redeemed, - say, through an effective and intuitive interface design. However, we'll recall the UI/UX topic in our article one more time. Just keep reading.
Among the famous brands, there are those which went in a simpler way and developed a service with manual data entry, for example, Wally. So if you don’t have enough resources to create financial apps of the second type, it doesn't mean you won’t succeed - you definitely will, with the right approach.
One more beautiful concept
Complex finance apps
Now we’re talking about a more advanced version of the personal finance app. In this case, the user’s accounts and bank card are linked to the program which receives data about each transaction automatically.
- security becomes a primary concern, after all, it's money we’re dealing with!
- the task to build a personal finance app of the 2nd type is a difficult and expensive one (compared to the previous case).
- ease of use, such an application doesn't force the user to perform unnecessary actions;
- high efficiency, as relying only on the memory and responsibility of a user isn't the most reasonable approach.
As we said, you should work hard on the security issue. We'll give you a few tips on this matter later when explaining the details of creating the best personal finance app.
By the by, if we’re talking about the best of the best, we should also discuss your rivals.
Best personal finance apps: examples and analysis
Freedom of choice of financial apps is quite understandable. After all, there are already a lot of programs of the sort in this market, which means you should make a real effort to stand out among your competitors.
And your primary concern in this regard is to analyze the best financial planning apps and see how they attract users.
Mint is a well-known service focused on controlling personal spending, with more than 14 million users. This financial assistant has been on the market since 2008, so its usability is time-tested. Mint offers many interesting features that other applications don't have.
- The user only needs the Mint program to manage all his financial matters, including bank accounts, payment cards, and mortgage loans.
- In addition to the obvious help in managing the funds, the personal finance app offers various tips on the proper allocation of the budget. The program analyzes all the user expenses and offers him a simple way to reduce costs.
- The company declares that it takes advantage of the “banking-level security system” and is able to notify the client in case of suspicious and atypical expenses.
- Mint financial apps work with different operating systems and support all popular platforms.
The program is free and uses indirect methods of monetization, such as in-app advertising.
Wally is a great example of simple finance apps requiring manual data entry (we've mentioned it, remember?). It’s an intuitive program, popular in 52 countries, and it has a lot of categories and subcategories that can be customized and renamed to the user's taste.
- Very user-friendly customizable analytics.
- Cost control in terms of related events.
- Geolocation. Wally automatically identifies and classifies the place where the user is now, and he has only to specify the amount spent.
- Intelligent technology. Wally memorizes user preferences and habits using machine learning technologies.
- Smart notifications - reminders of events (say, mandatory payments) related to the financial activity of the user.
- Maximum convenience: the application allows you to enter your costs using the keyboard or photographing checks.
- Competent analysis: thanks to this personal finance app, you analyze not just where you've spent money, but also why and with whom you've done it.
- The ability to adapt to human behavior, monitor consumer patterns in real-time, and provide information in a user-friendly interface.
The service also belongs to a number of free financial saving apps but offers paid exclusive features (such as Currency Converter, Repeat Notifications, Advanced Filtering, etc).
Acorns is a wonderful option of financial management software if a person wants to take his chance with investing in bonds, stocks, and so on, but doesn't dare to do it. Today the mobile service in question has more than 850 thousand registered accounts, and more than 75% of them belong to the millennials.
- Simple investment with a choice of a convenient method: one-time investments (if the user has free money) or periodical writing-off a certain amount;
- “Found money” - the feature allows earning money by making purchases. The companies with which Acorns cooperates (the same Blue Apron, HotelTonight, and others) reward users for purchases made (something about $10 or so on).
- The use of change as a micro-investment. It is about rounding change from each purchase. Of course, for this to happen, the program must be linked to the user's bank cards.
- An excellent chance to learn the secrets of a successful investment and avoid monetary risk while doing so.
- Individual approach. The Acorns application asks the user a few questions during his registration and forms a personalized stock portfolio based on the answers.
- High security. You cannot create an app for personal finance without thinking about its protection. According to the owners of Acorn, they've solved the security problem at the highest level.
- Saving. Thanks to the described strategy, users of the Acorns financial apps can well save in the process of their usual life activity.
The application can be downloaded without payment but after the user starts to invest money, $1 will be charged off every month (payment of $2 or $3 dollars is also possible, depending on the type of subscription).
YNAB stands for You Need a Budget and simplifies budget planning, making it flexible and manageable.
It means YNAB is not one of the usual money management software apps. The key goal of YNAB is to work with the budget.
The interpretation of the rules is quite simple:
Following the 1st rule, the user monthly distributes all available money into categories:
Giving (a very trendy topic in US culture).
Monthly Bills - a very clear and inevitable item of expenditure.
Everyday Expenses - ordinary daily purchases, the same food, etc.
Rainy Days - we'll tell more on that later
Saving Goals - say, a vacation or a new car.
In accordance with the 2nd rule, the user monthly sets aside money for rare predictable (such as repairing a car or apartment) and unpredictable (fines or health problems) expenses.
“Roll with the punches” is, in fact, a principle in boxing, according to which a boxer moves in the same direction as an opponent’s punch. When applied to financial saving apps, it means that in case of cost overruns, the user doesn’t whine, but adjusts the budget.
One of the important tasks of the system is to wean you live paycheck to paycheck. This rule is not mandatory, but, ideally, you should have enough savings to start living on the money received in the past month, without touching your current earnings.
In addition, YNAB money management apps have other, more understandable features:
- the opportunity to account for expenses;
- drawing up reports on transactions;
- synchronization and control of accounts;
- tracking monthly expenses.
- The possibility to learn how to effectively manage your budget. Moreover, users are provided with a webinar telling how to get rid of old debts.
- The chance to save money and lay away for a "rainy day." This is really convenient and can be useful!
- Original approach. We won't deny that YNAB approached the issue of building the finance management app in a very non-standard way.
In the first month, the program is free (even more than a month - about 34 days!), then users have to fork out ($ 50 annually).
Financial apps’ features
Okay, now you’ve got the idea of what your competitors are famous for, it's time to think about a way to surprise your own future users. You ought to build a personal finance app, knowing what functionality it will have.
We suggest that you consider creating such features as:
- User authorization and account creation;
- A personal page with all the information about the user.
- Linking to bank cards and user accounts (if you decide to create a second type of finance mobile apps)
- The ability to track all transactions and store their history;
- Setting a day and month budget. A useful feature that will allow users to save money and plan large purchases.
- Exhaustive financial statistics and detailed analytical reports for a specified period of time. With financial apps, users can compare the amounts spent in different stores (or by different family members).
- Categorization of expenses: “food”, “clothing”, “perfumery”, etc.
- A reminder of obligatory payments, fines, and taxes.
- Interactive search and relevant information.
- Online currency conversion.
- The possibility to make payments on templates.
- Regular payment calendar.
Okay, you’ve figured out the proper way to create a financial app... but how to make it as efficient and successful as possible?
7 tips to create a powerful financial app
A successful personal finance management app must have extended functionality, and we've already discussed the issue thoroughly. However, this is not enough to attract the maximum of users and interest them in your program. There are 7 more points to think through before starting personal finance app development.
#1. Security is a must
It's crucial not only to build a personal finance app but also to ensure its security. People should trust you and know that data on their money is being protected.
What are “secure financial apps”?
Two-factor authentication. The user identity is being verified through two independent channels:
username (login) & password or a secret encrypted value (1st protection factor);
PIN code or a password for one-time use (2nd protection factor).
Encryption of transmitted and stored information at the level of the data channel. These can be a standard SSL protocol.
Session mode. Also, it’d be smart of you to provide short-term sessions (meaning with a limited lifetime) in order to maximally avoid situations when programs are running unprotected (of course, we’re talking about client-server apps).
- You should carefully display private user information which a person wouldn't be happy to see stolen. This means catchy large fonts can be beautiful, but undesirable when it comes to financial saving apps.
- Don't trust open-source libraries implicitly. The exceptions are time-tested libraries with a well-deservedly high reputation (like the Realm database).
- It’s also undesirable to use closed-source cryptographic libraries because such solutions don’t allow checking their reliability and efficiency.
Of course, this is only a part of the recommendations regarding mobile and web protection. Moreover, technologies are being constantly evolved, and developers are inventing more sophisticated methods to improve the security of money management software apps.
#2. Think as your users
It would seem obvious: you'll have to deal with people facing finance management problems. However, there are nuances. If you remember, we mentioned that the target audience of the Acorns service is millennials: users aged 18 years and up to 34 years. That is, the brand focuses on them and speaks in their language.
Analyze your potential user, try to start thinking as he does, and then create an app for personal finance according to his needs.
People aren't fond of unnecessarily complex programs, especially if it's about their money (after all, any mistake here is fraught with unpleasant consequences). So simple finance apps are your key to the user's liking and loyalty.
The golden rule says that 3 clicks (or taps) should be enough to lead the user to the desired (say, he'd like to see statistics or something else, no matter). Keep it in mind when building the finance management app.
And one more important point. Some money management apps offer the possibility of payment, and such a procedure is more complicated than it seems at first glance. You should check all the data properly without tiring the user or confusing him.
You have 2 ways to solve the problem:
- a single screen containing all the key information required for user verification and conducting transactions. However, such a page may be too complicated.
- several screens which consistently lead the user to the cherished goal, step by step. Do your best to find a middle ground and create the minimum number of screens allowed.
#4. Thoughtful UX design
The 4th rule follows logically from the previous one, since the application simplicity implies, among other things, an appealing and clean design. Users avoid programs with an obscure interface overloaded with details. You need to ask the advice of an experienced UI/UX expert who will tell you how to create a financial app able to attract customers with its design.
And remember, UI/UX trends are changing, and app design should change with them to go with the times.
Take a look at another personal finance app concept, we hope, it’ll inspire you!
#5. 24\7 customer support
Sooner or later, one of your users may face a certain problem, and he'll contact you with a question related to the operation of your financial management software. Your task is to respond as quickly as possible.
And be ready to stay in touch round the clock, providing 24\7 customer support.
Today, there are a lot of devices for mobile banking and financial management, and you should satisfy users of all of them. It means you need to create a powerful financial app that works with both iOS and Android platforms (and if it also supports Windows devices, it'd be a great bonus!). Take this necessity into account in the development process.
#7. Start small
If you don’t have sufficient finance software app budget, start small - build an MVP model.
If now you’re convinced of the advantages of building the finance management app, we're happy to grant our services. The Agilie team has the proper experience proven by our portfolio. Take a look at it to be sure our experts are highly qualified.
Anyway, we are here to assist in case you’re going to create an app for personal finance and willing to get the best possible result.