Saving money, tracking expenses and sticking to an allocated budget can be tough, and it takes time to build towards your goals. Thankfully, like just about anything nowadays, when it comes to budgeting, there’s an app – or several hundred of them – for that. To help you sift through the near-endless budgeting and savings apps out there, we’ve compiled a list of six that piqued our interest in particular.
Pocketbook is a free Australian budgeting app that tracks all your expenses to calculate how much you spend each month. It automatically collects and syncs data from your bank accounts and categorises each purchase you make, so it can be a useful tool to show you exactly where you’re spending your money.
Once you’ve seen a breakdown of your spending, you can then use the app to set yourself a monthly allowance for each type of spend, be it food, leisure, travel or bills. You can also let Pocketbook send you notifications when you’re getting too close to your monthly limits, and reminders when you have upcoming bills.
Summary: Pocketbook analyses your spending habits to help you figure out how much you’re spending and where.
Potential pro: It’s a free way to help you manage your bills and to budget. This can be useful to see what you can cut back on and what you can be a little more relaxed about.
Potential con: Pocketbook allows you to sync a range of Australian bank accounts, including those of the big four. However, if you’re with a smaller bank, it may not be supported. You can still add in your information manually, but you’ll need to use the web version of the app to do so.
→ Is your car insurance policy good value? Compare with Canstar
MoneyBrilliant allows you to collate multiple accounts – such as savings and transaction accounts, credit cards, loans and superannuation – into a single location. This may help give you a fuller picture of your financial position and what’s going in and out. Through the app you can also create budgets, categorise your transactions and access tools to help you save towards important goals like owning a home or saving for retirement.
Its ‘Basic’ plan is free and allows you to connect all types of accounts and access certain tools such as spending reports and a personal budget. However, MoneyBrilliant also has a ‘Plus’ plan which costs $9.90 per month, or $99 per year. This gives you access to additional tools, such as a tax tool that is designed to help you identify certain transactions that may be tax-deductible come tax time. It also allows you to use its ‘Bill Watch’ feature, which it says will help you get better deals on electricity and gas.
Summary: MoneyBrilliant offers a comprehensive look at your finances.
Potential pro: The app is equipped with the spending breakdown feature of other apps like Pocketbook, while also giving you a thorough picture of your assets and liabilities.
Potential con: To get the full range of features, you’ll need to pay for MoneyBrilliant’s ‘Plus’ plan, which could be counterproductive if you’re trying to be more budget-conscious.
Goodbudget capitalises on an age-old budgeting method – the envelope system. In the past, this involved splitting up your cash into different physical envelopes, with each envelope representing a different purpose such as rent, groceries or savings.
Goodbudget says it takes this idea into the 21st century with its virtual budgeting program. Using the app, you can create virtual envelopes for your monthly bills and spending and are only allowed to spend out of the designated envelope.
Goodbudget has a free version as well as a ‘Plus’ version, which costs $8.49 monthly or $69.99 annually. This gives you access to features such as unlimited envelopes and the ability to sync the app with more devices.
Summary: Through Goodbudget, you can allocate portions of your income towards specific purposes.
Potential pro: If you’re looking for a simple way of saving money and budgeting for various expenses, Goodbudget might be worth a download.
Potential con: Unlike apps like Pocketbook and MoneyBrilliant, you can’t sync Goodbudget to your bank account. However, this might be appealing if you aren’t so keen on sharing your bank details with an app.
Splitwise is a bill-splitting app that could be worth a look if you have shared expenses – this could be anything from splitting bills with your housemates to dinner with friends. While not strictly designed for budgeting, Splitwise can give you an insight into how much money you’re lending to people or how much you owe others.
Splitwise automatically splits all payments you enter between members of a group, while also tallying a total of who-owes-who what.
Splitwise is free to download. However, there are in-app purchases if you want to access the app’s ‘pro features’, which include no ads, currency conversion and the ability to save default splits.
Summary: Splitwise could help you keep track of shared expenses and ensure you don’t forget about any money you’ve lent or borrowed.
Potential Pro: It could be particularly useful for situations like sharehouses and overseas holidays.
Potential con: To use the app with a group of people, it does require all users to download the app individually.
You Need A Budget, or YNAB, is a popular budgeting app that encourages you to take a proactive approach to your savings. One of YNAB’s rules of budgeting is to ‘give every dollar a job’, also known as zero-based budgeting. Similar to Goodbudget, this involves dividing all of your income into various categories and setting strict spending limits for each category.
Features of the app include the ability to connect bank accounts, set and track goals and receive reports showing your progress. YNAB also offers a financial support team and a range of weekly online workshops.
YNAB currently has a free 34-day trial. After this, the app costs $US11.99 per month or $US84 per year.
Summary: YNAB encourages you to think about how every dollar you earn will be spent and to prioritise and plan your spending.
Potential pro: YNAB encourages users to take a proactive approach to their money and provides a number of resources to help them do this. It focuses on your future spending, rather than just tracking what you’ve already spent.
Potential con: Unlike some of the other budgeting apps, YNAB does not come with a free version. While it does come with a free 34-day trial, after this time you will need to pay the full subscription amount.
Your bank’s app?
Your bank’s mobile app may also come with a budgeting tool that automatically tracks your spending. A lot of Australia’s major banks have created apps and functions designed to help their customers save money. For example, some bank apps have ‘round-up’ features whereby purchases made with your transaction account are rounded up and the extra amount is shifted into a linked savings account.
Find out which savings and transaction accounts we have recently awarded a 5-Star Rating for Outstanding Value.
Please note that this is just a selection of budgeting apps available. There are other budgeting apps out there and we are not making a recommendation about these platforms. It’s important to do your own research before deciding if any of these kinds of apps are suitable for you.
More apps to consider
There are apps out there for just about every purpose, and Canstar has compiled roundups for the following topics:
Main image source: Master1305 (Shutterstock)
Original author: William Jolly
Thanks for visiting Canstar, Australia’s biggest financial comparison site*
The comparison table below shows some of the Savings Accounts on Canstar’s database for a regular saver in NSW with links to the providers’ websites. The results shown are based on an investment of $100,000 in a personal savings account and are sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), then provider name (alphabetically). For more information and to confirm whether a particular product will be suitable for you, check upfront with your provider and read the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision.