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Easy, On-the-Go Expense Reporting

Today’s smartphones have capabilities that many users may not be aware of, and there are all kinds of programs you can run on them that can be activated with a simple download. Here’s one that can definitely make your mobile life easier.

It’s called Expensify, and it’s among the ever-growing number of Web-based services of value for traveling lawyers. It lets users upload, import, store and retrieve expense details and assembles them into digital reports in a secure online space. I came across it while I was looking for a better on-the-road way to track the expenses I need to submit to my employer. But beyond being able to gather details of each expense, I also wanted a solution that would let me capture and submit images of the actual receipts. And if I could find one that worked on my smartphone and was free, all the better. Expensify met each of those requirements, so I signed up.

Expensify works with Android, Palm Pre, iPhone and BlackBerry smartphones and supports direct import of expense information from the vast majority of U.S. credit cards. You can also log cash expenses by sending a text message to a special Expensify number. Expensify will create eReceipts for purchases under $75.

To capture an image of an actual receipt for reporting purposes, you simply take a picture of it with your phone’s camera and e-mail it to your Expensify account. Plus, if you have receipts that you’ve received via email or that you’ve scanned, you can send those to Expensify to have them uploaded to your account, too.

In addition, Expensify allows you to export your submitted expense reports to either FreshBooks or QuickBooks (desktop or online versions), a very useful capability when it comes to billing clients for expenses. To make life even easier, you can import your QuickBooks Chart of Accounts into Expensify, so your staff can assign the correct category or account number when they enter the expenses into your organization’s system. Also, expenses attached to a QuickBooks account can be reimbursed via direct deposit using your checking account or a credit card.

As for its security layers, Expensify states that it is PCI-DSS compliant and uses SSLv3 for all Web connections (https), as well as extremely strong encryption for communications between its servers and for storing users’ data. The service is free for the first two users, including for report creation, saving (in .csv or .pdf formats), exporting and reimbursement purposes. Its mobile application is free as well.

Expensify bills itself as “expense reports that don’t suck,” and I can definitely agree with that statement. I’ve looked at a number of remote expense applications, and for my purposes this is the best one currently available.

About the Author

Nerino J. Petro, Jr. , is a legal technologist and the Practice Management Advisor for the State Bar of Wisconsin. He blogs on technology and practice management at