The first step anyone tells you when you start thinking seriously about (and voicing) your desire to get out of debt, do more with your money or maybe even retire early, is to make a budget. There’s a variety of budget types out there, and a variety of ways you can track them.
I’m going to cover the three Apps that I have found that will automatically suck in your bank account details and give you an overview of your spending without you having to do anything.
This app is relatively new, yet it’s the first one that came up when I searched for budgeting apps in the Apple store. It’s FREE to use, which seemed to me to be an important feature when you are trying to save money.
Some reviewers have commented that their bank is not listed – so they can’t have their data automatically imported. I didn’t have this problem – all three banks I use (CUA, BankWest, ING Direct) were listed. Also, it appears to take 24-48 hours for data to be collected from the banks [edit: you can force it to update if you like].
What I liked: I linked two accounts (mine and Eli’s) and during the import process I was easily able to exclude the two accounts that we share so that I didn’t get duplicate money transfers.
This app was able to categorise the majority of my transactions by itself. Handily, it understood the differences of just moving money around all of my linked accounts, so I didn’t have to exclude any transactions.
It lists the Accounts you have (Cash, Credit, Loans), followed by Recent Transactions, Bills & Income. It then gave me a pictorial overview of what I had been spending money on. Finally, it gave a Saving Performance value. Mine was horrifying low, due to less income and Rates and other bills.
What I didn’t like: I absolutely didn’t understand how the ‘Safely Spend’ worked. For me, I know that I paid my Council rates in full at the beginning of Feb, which was ~$900 I wouldn’t ‘normally’ spend. That put my limit out really quickly. Maybe this will improve over time.
What could be improved? I would have loved to be able to import my Superannuation data – I don’t check those accounts nearly as often as I perhaps should. This would enable me to calculate my Net Worth. I didn’t think about either of those things though until I tried…
I read quite a lot of frugal and money blogs, so my FaceBook started suggesting ads of apps I might like. The advantage of this app is that you can ask it to update and query your account balances at any time. Unfortunately, you need to pay to continue using this after your free month, at a rate of $9.90 a month. There is a ‘basic’ plan, which is free, which may also meet your needs.
What I liked: I really liked the ability to put in my assets, and then work out my Net Worth (which I had in my head, but never really thought about before). Also it was able to download my Superannuation data and I could add it to my Net Worth (not that mine has all that much money in it).
What I didn’t like: I found it troublesome to get rid of duplicate accounts. The interface was very slow, and importing accounts caused it to crash multiple times. And finally, it had trouble working out my transactions by itself, and I had to manually enter a lot of categories.
I was also horrified to find that it suggested opening a credit card account. Yes, I have a mortgage with an offset account, but I’ve worked hard to not have even the temptation of a credit card.
Wandering around on the net, I found people who had converted from hand budgets to YNAB. YNAB has been around for a long time and thus has a huge collection of lovers. It costs $50 a year after a free trial month and has a free trial year for students. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t work with imports from Australian banks, making it useless for this category.
Additionally, I struggled to get it to work on my phone. You can’t sign up from your phone, you need to use a desktop device. That’s all well and fine, but when I asked it to send me a link to my email, it said I had done this before and had already requested it too many times…
What do you use to manage your money?