We all know we should be budgeting and keeping track of our everyday expenses, but who really does it? And who has the time?
With the new financial year upon us, it’s as good a time as any to start tracking your spending and uncover exactly where your monthly pay cheque disappears to. And even if you’re not living paycheque to paycheque, being aware of your spending can help you afford that holiday or new car a lot quicker.
With so many apps to choose from it’s hard to know which ones to download, so to inspire you to get on the budgeting bandwagon we’ve done the work for you and discovered some of the best budgeting apps to help you control your spending.
If you’re trying to save for your next holiday or a new car, Savings Goals is a handy app to get you on track.
By entering a target amount and a target date, this app will give you a savings schedule and calculate the amount you need to save each week or month to reach your goal. Costing $0.99, Savings Goals will tell you how much you’ve saved as a proportion of your target and you can work towards multiple savings goals at the same time.
For $1.99 this app will categorise all your expenses and provide weekly, monthly or yearly reports to show you how much of your income you’ve spent on everyday things like your car, rent, groceries or clothes (a shocking revelation for some of us). Plus, all your income and expense information can be synced across your devices using Dropbox.
This free app is great for those of us who aren’t very good at keeping track of work expenses or the hundreds of paper receipts that seem to accumulate throughout the year.
Expensify allows you to monitor your expenses and create reports by taking a picture of a receipt and uploading it – all while automatically syncing with your bank account and importing your credit card statements. It then scans the details of your receipt (allowing you to save as a PDF), categorises it and groups it into a report. You can either keep the receipts for your own records or email them to your employer for reimbursement.
YNAB (You Need A Budget)
Although YNAB’s a free app, it does require an outlay of $60 for the related desktop software. But if you do, in fact, need a budget, then it’s probably worthwhile – at least in the long run – and you can trial it first if you’re not quite convinced.
YNAB allows you to enter transactions on the spot and if you have a Dropbox account, any changes you make to your budget will be automatically saved to your laptop, iPad or smartphone.
This app goes a little further than providing an expense log by giving you four budgeting rules to live by and even if you don’t end up using the app, these rules are probably good to keep in mind.
The first is to “give every dollar a job”. This involves categorising your bank balance by designating parts of your income to different expenses such as car repayments, groceries and entertainment. This means you’ll technically only have a certain amount of money to spend on groceries or dinner with friends, stopping you from blowing your entire week’s income on an expensive dinner out.
The second rule is to “save for a rainy day” by taking the large, less frequent expenses – like your car registration or quarterly energy bill – and breaking them into monthly chunks to save yourself the shock when a large bill arrives in your inbox.
The third rule is to “roll with the punches”. YNAB reminds us to be flexible and address any overspending we do – before we move on to the next month. If you went a bit overboard and spent too much at a birthday lunch you went to over the weekend, YNAB asks you to look through your budget and move some money around to make up for it. If you don’t do this it will automatically deduct your overspending from next month’s money.
The fourth rule of YNAB is to “live on last month’s income”. This rule is probably the hardest and might seem a little far-fetched for some of us, but it asks us to spend this month what we earned last month. According to YNAB we should be saving enough money to go an entire month without touching our regular income. The following month we should spend last month’s income while earning this month’s paycheque. Got it?
This free app was created by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and provides a savings calculator, a loan calculator, mortgage calculator, superannuation calculator and an interest-free deal calculator.
The app will help you to figure out how much you’re up for if you’re contemplating taking the plunge and buying your own home or if you’re concerned about super, the super calculator will give you an estimate of your super balance at a given age, based on minimum employer contributions.
MoneySmart also has an app called Track My Spend which helps you monitor your expenses and reach your savings goals.
While this app won’t necessarily help you save, it does make life a lot easier.
For those of you who’ve been to too many group dinners where splitting the bill becomes a bit like splitting hairs, this app will make paying your friends a lot less painful.
CommBank Kaching lets you pay your friends (and your friends pay you) using your mobile, email or Facebook contacts so that you don’t lose track of who owes what. Easy!