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Essential apps for budgeting and saving money

06 April 2020

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

Determined to master your money and stick to a budget in 2020? It doesn’t have to be boring or difficult if you keep it simple, and easier still if you let technology do the heavy-lifting for you.

Just like finding an exercise regime that’s ideal for your lifestyle, it’s never been easier to get on top of your financial fitness, thanks to the many apps available for your mobile device. We bring you a round-up of seven money management tools designed to put financial control at your fingertips, any time, anywhere.

Information about these apps, including pricing is current on 3 April 2020.

1. Pocketbook

It may take its name from a word used in the US for handbag, but this popular budgeting app is home grown in Australia and integrates with many of our major banks and financial institutions.

Simply sync the app with your bank accounts and credit cards to track where your money is going. For cash payments you can use mobile photos and geo-location to record these, or add additional details like receipts, bills and invoices to help you track your transactions.

Pocketbook automatically organises your spending into categories like clothes, groceries and fuel, showing you where money is being spent. You can also set up budgets for each category, see your balances and view your transactions. The app ensures all your bills are automatically detected and in the one place. Plus, you get notified when bill payments are coming up and if you have enough money to cover them.

Download Pocketbook 

Cost: Free

2. MoneyBrilliant

Want to have a personal financial assistant in your pocket? According to their website, that’s just what you’ll get with MoneyBrilliant. This app is similar to Pocketbook as it connects your bank accounts to help you monitor your finances. The basic version also allows you to connect your credit cards, loans, superannuation and investment accounts. Other basic features include creating budgets, getting bill notifications, categorizing expenses, working out your net worth, and generating spending reports.

With the plus plan, you get access to a whole host of other features and services. The upgrade provides alerts for better deals from service providers, recommendations for optimising your accounts and products to making your finances simpler and sorts your expenses into tax deduction categories. So if you’re after a money management app with all the bells and whistles, this could be a good option if you’re willing to pay.

Download MoneyBrilliant

Cost: Basic version is free, Plus plan $9.90 monthly/$99 annual

 3. PocketSmith

In its basic version PocketSmith is similar to MoneyBrilliant and Pocketbook, with automatic imports of bank transactions and access to reports summarising your financial activity. It also offers features like digital and cash spending projections, calendars and a choice of either daily, weekly or monthly flexible budgeting options to suit your lifestyle and financial needs.

But the value-adds you get with the paid versions could be worth considering if you want a more sophisticated approach to money management. A paid for PocketSmith account allows you to track spending in multiple currencies as well as reconcile income and spending for couples. There are even features to make it easier for you to share your real-time cash flow and financial position with your financial planner.

Download PocketSmith

Cost: Basic version is free, Premium plan $10.95 monthly, Super plan $21.95 monthly

4. Goodbudget

If you’re a fan of the old-fashioned ways of managing your finances, this could be the app for you. And as you can’t sync it to your bank accounts, you might also prefer Goodbudget if you’re not completely comfortable with sharing bank details with an app.

Goodbudget takes the envelope system digital. Instead of dividing cash for rent, bills and savings between paper envelopes, you get to create up to 10 virtual ones with the basic version of this app. By doing this you can direct your income to where it’s needed, making sure essential expenses are covered and stopping you from overspending on extras. The Plus plan gives you access to unlimited envelopes and the ability to use the app from more devices

As one of the most popular budgeting apps around, this could be a good option if you want a simple start with virtual money management.

Download Goodbudget

Cost: Basic version is free, Plus plan US$7 monthly/US$60 annual

 5. WiseList

With more of a focus on helping you save, this app brings a couple of extra elements to managing your budget and bills. It’s designed to help you spend less on your food bills, with features for comparing product prices and getting family members working together on shopping lists.

You can also keep track of loyalty points you’re earning as you shop and plan to save even more with app notifications when your favourite products are on special. It has some handy features for keeping on top of your other bills too. Simply take a photo of each bill and the app will store all the important information and alert you before the due date.

Download WiseList

Cost: Free

6. Finder

Launched in 2020, the Finder app brings together the money-tracking capability seen in other apps with their well-known comparison data for financial products and services. Not only can this app sync with your bank accounts, it also gives you regular updates on your credit score and savings tips based on analysis of what you’re spending money on.

Just like WiseList, this app also alerts you to the best deals, but for financial products instead of food. And because it knows which credit cards, loans and savings accounts you have, it can compare the interest you’re getting or paying now and calculate how much you’d be saving by swapping to a different product and account. 

Download Finder

Cost: Free

7. Beem It

An independent company backed by Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac, Beem It is an Aussie version of the popular US bill-splitting app, SplitWise. With Beem It, you can take the hassle and awkwardness out of sharing expenses with friends by making it easy to calculate each person’s share and make requests for payment as well as transfers.

You can also lose all those loyalty cards from your wallet and scan and save them to Beem It instead. The app has a gifting feature for sharing your cash with friends and loved ones for a special occasion – particularly handy if you can’t be there in person to make their day.

Download Beem It

Cost: Free to download, there may be costs for transactions depending on who you bank with.

For more on how you can use these apps to manage your money, explore more of our Money & Life content on budgeting and saving. Or to get in touch with  a professional who can provide personalised financial advice, use our Match My Planner tool to connect with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional.