This year marks a decade since the global financial crisis, and Australian households appear to be slipping back into a pre-GFC habit of saving less and less of their incomes. While the latest figures show economic growth in Australia, the household saving ratio has slipped to sit at just one per cent, the lowest it’s been since 2007. The household saving ratio is the ratio of households' net saving to disposable income, and right now, Australian’s aren’t saving.
According to a recent survey by Suncorp, the average Australian is tucking away $427 a month in financial savings. Not a lot, but it could be worse. The 2017 Financial Resilience in Australia report found that one in seven Australians have absolutely no savings stashed away for a rainy day, and are instead living week to week with no buffer between them and bankruptcy. Furthermore, one in six Australians are picking up credit card debt to fund their lifestyles.
Considering the current financial environment, it comes as no surprise that finance apps for smart phones and devices have risen in popularity. Taking care of everything from saving and budgeting to keeping track of receipts, investments and spending habits, finance apps are the pocket-sized financial advisors helping Australians cut through the mess of everyday money management.
The apps provided by major Australian banks and lenders work well for checking your current balance, transferring money and paying bills, but they don’t encourage you to save or budget your money mindfully. Here are 10 finance apps that will set you up for success by helping you budget, save and invest.
For first-time Investors
The Acorns finance app turns loose change into an investment portfolio by rounding up the balance of your debit or credit card transactions to the nearest dollar, and puts the difference into your Acorns investment account. Once that account (in the app) reaches $5, that $5 is invested into a mix of ASX-listed exchange traded funds, based on a diversified portfolio that you select at the time of set up. For example, if you spend $4.60 on a coffee, the remaining 40c will go into your investment account in Acorns. It’s great for people who are mostly strapped for cash but are interested in dipping a toe into the investment pool. However, it pays t get your available Acorn savings up to $2000 as soon as possible otherwise fees can eat up your money quickly, costing $1.25 a month for balances under $5000, but is free to download.
If you’re looking for a basic budgeting and money-tracking tool, then Pocketbook is the ticket. This app will synchronise with Australian banking apps (so you don’t have to manually enter information) and you’ll be able to see where your money is going as Pocketbook categorizes your transactions. It can also alert you to upcoming bills. It’s free to download but there are extra features that are only available by inviting a friend or donating a few dollars to the app.
For splitting bills
This Splitwise finance app takes all the awkwardness out of splitting bills with friends and family. It’ll keep a running total of who owes you what, and allows you to keep track of spending trends. You can set up email reminders for people who owe you, set up expenses so they are divided equally or by percentages, and it’s free to download.
For saving money on food
This finance app is for all the designated grocery shoppers. Trolley Saver is an Australian app that’s currently links to Coles, Woolworths and Aldi. Based on your shopping list and the current specials at each store, it’ll tell you where to shop to save the most money. It’s free to download but a little glitchy.
For seeing the whole financial picture
Designed to help improve your financial fitness, Frollo is a free finance app that connects all of your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and superannuation together into a single dashboard to give you a complete picture of your finances. Based off your transactions, it provides you with personalised insights that help you save money. Budgeting and keeping track of bills is all done automatically, and the inclusion of personal goals and community-based challenges help you stay motivated to continue your positive savings habits. Free to download.
For splitting costs
If you’re somewhat of a social butterfly, Finch is a must-have finance app for ensuring your hard-earned money doesn’t end up paying for other people’s expenses. You can proactively pay someone money, request that someone else pay you, and also create groups to track shared expenses across multiple people. No more awkward conversations necessary! Free to download
Easyshare is another payments app that focuses specifically on splitting payments and bills in a shared household. This could be for rent, groceries, electricity, Internet, and any other shared expenses that need to be divvied up amongst roommates. Easyshare collects the cash from relevant parties and then pools it all together to pay rent or bills on your behalf on a one-off or recurring basis. Free to download.
For making quick payments
The beauty of Beem It is that it doesn’t overcomplicate payments. So long as the person you want to transact with is an existing Beem It user, the actual payments process has been designed to look more like a Twitter feed than a stodgy bank transfer. The app is jointly owned by CommBank, NAB and Westpac, and given payments happen instantaneously, it’s actually better than transferring money to someone’s bank account via online banking – a process that typically takes 1-2 days. New users also get a $5 credited to their linked debit account.
Basic finance management
Made by ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) TrackMySPEND is an expense tracking app that’s great for setting up a budget. Simply set up your spending cycle and spending limit, then you’ll be ready to add new expenses on the go with a name (e.g. pizza for dinner), amount (e.g. $34) and category (e.g. eating out). Free to download.
For everything tax
Take care of all things tax-related with the ATO finance app. It can lodge and track your tax return, record and track deductions, access many of the ATO tools and calculators and is totally free to download.
You might also like: