How many bank accounts and credit cards do you have?
When you become an expat, that number could easily double. And depending on your new country, you could be juggling two or three different currencies as well!
When you’re deciding to move abroad, the logistics of overseas budgeting probably aren’t top of mind. But when you’re paying rent in GBP, saving for retirement in USD, and taking weekend trips across the EU, finding the best budgeting app for expats becomes a necessity.
Enter the Wallet app from BudgetBakers. This powerhouse platform is available for iOS and Android, and you can also access core functions from your web browser.
Wallet has all of the functionality you’d expect in a budgeting app, including account syncing and detailed reports. But what sets it apart from other contenders is the ability to budget in multiple currencies on a single interface.
Some apps, like YNAB for example, require you to set up a completely separate budget (or personal account!) for each currency. But in Wallet, I’m able to view all of my bank accounts, add expenses, and record transfers between them. When you’re paying bills in two different currencies, this is critical for staying on top of your finances.
Please note that this is not a sponsored post. I just really like the Wallet app and believe it’s the best budgeting app for expats! I use the paid starter version of Wallet, which only costs £17.99/year. You can click here to see a side-by-side feature comparison to determine which version is right for you.
Wallet’s core functions fall into three main buckets:
- Tracking expenses and income
- Setting and monitoring budgets
- Analyzing your finances
It also has a number of nifty optional features like a Smart Assistant expense reminder and a spending review game called “Was it Worth it?”.
The interface is easy to use and customize to your preferences, with a widget-based dashboard that displays what you care about most.
Before you can add your first account, you need to choose your default currency. This change cannot be reversed, so choose the currency that you use the most. Once you’ve done this, you can go to Settings > Currencies, and add any additional currencies you’ll be tracking.
Adding new accounts is straightforward. You can either sync an account directly to the app, routinely import your banking data via spreadsheet, or manually manage all of your transactions. I use the latter option.
The flexible import option helps make Wallet the best budgeting app for expats in particular, as not all banks (or banking laws) outside the US allow you to share your credentials with third party apps.
Wallet’s free version allows users to have up to three accounts, while both of the paid versions offers unlimited accounts.
Once you’ve set up your accounts, they will appear at the top of your dashboard. You can select one or multiple accounts at a time to filter the data displayed in the rest of the widgets. For example, the Balance widget shows the total balance across all of your selected accounts in your default currency. If you have any accounts in a different currency, the app uses the current conversion rates to aggregate everything.
Having a flexible account view was a necessity when I was searching for the best budgeting app for expats. If you prefer not to see certain accounts in your stats, you can adjust the account settings to toggle on “Exclude from stats”. However, if you’re simply trying to avoid the app merging your accounts into a single currency, use the multi-select feature to view only the accounts with the same currency.
Save me for later!
Creating records can be as simple or as complex as you desire. The app has a Quick Add feature that lets you create a basic expense, transfer, or income record right away, and return later to add in the details. This function is available within the app or as a long-press action on Android phones. There’s also the ability to add expense templates with pre-populated details, thus saving you time when manually entering records.
If you like getting into the nitty gritty of tracking your expenses, you’ll love Wallet’s categories. There are nearly 100 default options to choose from across nine overarching categories. But the best part is the ability to add your own custom sub-categories, complete with color-coding and icon selection.
It’s this commitment to customization that helps make Wallet the best budgeting app for expats, who often have unique expenses that are worth tracking separately. Bloggers, for example, may want custom Income sub-categories to track affiliate marketing vs. guest posting.
Payments & Transfers
If you’ve opted to manually enter your account’s transactions, the Planned Payment feature is a great time-saver. Instead of creating new records for fixed recurring expenses like rent and utilities, Wallet will do it for you. You can tell the app to automatically add records for recurring expenses, or ask you to confirm the expense occurred before creating the record.
The only downside I’ve found while using Wallet is when creating a transfer record between accounts with different currencies. For example, if you record a transfer of 100 GBP into a US account, the app’s currency converter essentially determines how much USD made it into your US account. However, every bank uses its own conversion rate, so the actual amount of USD will be different than what Wallet put in the record. Unfortunately, if you go into the record and manually change the USD amount of the transfer, it will adjust the GBP amount to match. The only way around this is to add a second record to reconcile the difference. Fortunately, I don’t encounter this scenario enough for it to be a major issue.
Create and Monitor Budgets
Wallet’s budgeting feature is user-friendly and versatile. When setting up a line item budget, you can customize everything from the associated categories to the notifications about overspending. You can also narrow down the associated accounts. For example, if you have a Shopping budget but don’t want your purchases from a “fun money” account to be included, you can exclude that account’s records from counting against the budget.
There’s also the option to set quarterly or annual budgets, which comes in handy for things that add up over time, such travel spending.
The Wallet Now tab displays a budget overview for each line item, allowing you quickly diagnose if you’re spending is on track or out of hand. You can also have Wallet notify you if your spending goes over budget, or if it’s trending that way (or both). This is perfect for things like dining out, where it’s all too easy to use up half your monthly budget on a fancy meal.
I’ve always loved analyzing data, and Wallet makes it easy to dive into my finances. The paid version of the app has eight different charts and two line item reports, giving you the freedom to choose how deep you want to go.
The Expense Structure chart, which gives a breakdown of where your money went each month by category. If you’re using the app to track your savings progress, the Balance Trend report can be a great motivator.
When I first moved to London from the US, I found the Income and Expenses report extremely helpful. It takes a few months after moving for spending to settle into a routine. Comparing my category spending from one month made it easy to adjust my estimated budget.
Summary: What Makes Wallet the Best Budgeting App for Expats?
- Easy management of accounts across multiple currencies
- Fully customizable categories to track unique expenses and income
- Flexible data import system if auto-sync is not right/available for you
- Robust finance monitoring and reporting in the palm of your hand
Wallet took the stress out of managing my finances as an expat. If you’re still not sure about using the app, you can do what I did initially. Simply download the free version of the app, test it out for a week, and decide if the paid version is right for you.
Have any questions about the Wallet app? Feel free to ask in the comments section!