10 popular mobile apps for budgeting and saving

William Jolly By on December 19, 2018
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Budgeting and savings apps

Here is Savings.com.au’s list of some of the most popular budgeting and savings apps available right now.

  1. Pocketbook
  2. MoneyBrilliant
  3. Frollo
  4. TrackMySPEND
  5. Goodbudget
  6. Moneytree
  7. ATO app
  8. Finch
  9. ShopBack
  10. Quit that!

There are many ways you can save, like getting a lower rate on your home loan, going for a used car over a new one, cutting down on credit card interest and more. It sounds simple enough, but in reality, actually identifying what your problems are and finding practical ways to improve them can be challenging.

Back in the day, people would pour through receipts on a Sunday night and write all their expenditure down. With the rise of personal computers, digital spreadsheets then became the go-to, until now.

As smartphones fuse themselves into our palms, thousands of personal finance apps continue to spawn, including a large number of budgeting and saving apps which many people now use for their personal fiscal management.

So if you want to finally put your phone to good use instead of aimlessly scrolling through Facebook at work (don’t kid yourself), here are, in no particular order, some of the most popular budgeting and savings apps available to Australians right now:

Spending tracker apps

Expense tracking apps are all the rage at the moment, with people downloading them by the tens of thousands. Each of these apps offer various levels of functionality, either syncing with your bank accounts or requiring a slightly more manual approach, but their end goal is the same: to give you a categorical breakdown of your monthly spending so you can decide how and where to make cutbacks.

1. Pocketbook

Availability: iOS and Google Play.

Pocketbook syncs with your bank account (as long as you give it permission to do so), listing every spend you make and sorting it into categories. The sort function isn’t perfect and you might end up with a few ‘unclassified’ spends, but you can easily go into the app and allocate these purchases to categories yourself, and it will then allocate every similar transaction accordingly.

With your daily spending sorted into categories, you can easily see where most of your money goes, and what you might need to cut back on. With over 350,000 downloads and a 4.3 rating from the Apple App Store, this app has proven extremely popular with Aussie savers.

Key features of Pocketbook:

  • Sync to Australian bank accounts
  • Automatic categorisation for more than 80% of all transactions
  • An easy to use interface with weekly, monthly and six-monthly overviews
  • Views of your recent transactions, incomes and upcoming bills
  • The ability to set safety spend limits
  • Push notifications for when you spend too much or get too close to your limits
  • Bank-level security and encryption

Source: getpocketbook.

2. MoneyBrilliant

Availability: iOS and Google Play.

MoneyBrilliant is a very similar app to Pocketbook – it connects to more than 200 financial institutions in Australia and syncs your spending to categories. What it also offers that Pocketbook doesn’t is that it syncs ALL your money, including superannuation and investment portfolios. MoneyBrilliant also has a tax deductions function, finding potentially tax-deductible expenses based on your occupation.

Unlike Pocketbook however, MoneyBrilliant is not free – it costs $9.90 per month after a 30-day trial period. But this hasn’t stopped it being downloaded more than 10,000 times from Google Play and earning a 4.5-star rating on the Apple App Store from more than 3,000 reviews!

Key features of MoneyBrilliant:

  • Sync to Australian bank accounts – including superannuation and investments
  • Automatic categorisation for transactions
  • Automatically finding the cheapest gas and electricity deals based on your usage data
  • Set savings goals, budgets and track progress
  • Track tax-deductible expenses
  • Push notifications and personal insights
  • Bank-level security and encryption

Source: MoneyBrilliant.

3. Frollo

Availability: iOS and Google Play.

Frollo is also very similar to MoneyBrilliant and Pocketbook, yet is newer and not quite as popular: estimated downloads are at 1,000+ according to Google Play but there are no official figures. Frollo offers free and secure synchronisation with your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, superannuation and investments into an aesthetically pleasing interface that allows you to monitor your spending. Frollo also lets you take daily, weekly and monthly challenges to try and save money.

Key features of Frollo: 

  • Sync from Australian bank accounts – including superannuation and investments
  • Automatic categorisation for transactions
  • Set savings goals and challenges
  • Push notifications and personal insights
  • Bank-level security and encryption
  • Track tax-deductible expenses
  • Push notifications and personal insights
  • Bank-level security and encryption

4. TrackMySPEND by ASIC

Availability: iOS and Google Play.

TrackMySPEND is a free app from ASIC, so you know it’s trustworthy. TrackMySPEND also links to your bank accounts but unlike the three apps above, it does require you to categories your spending manually at first before auto-filling similar expenses after. This can be a pain for people who perhaps don’t have the time (or simply can’t be bothered), but the numbers don’t lie: it’s been downloaded more than 100,000 times and has an average rating of 4.1 stars on Google Play from over 1,000 reviews.

While it might not be particularly pretty on the eyes either (it has a fairly outdated interface), TrackMySPEND allows you to easily track your weekly expenses and export the data to external devices.

Key features of TrackMySPEND:

  • Records expenses (manually then automatically)
  • Nominate a spending limit
  • Create ‘favourites’ for frequent expenses
  • View your expenses history
  • Add ‘tags’ to categorise expenses
  • Create expense reminders sent as text messages
  • Sync with Australian bank accounts
  • Free data backup with export functionality

Source: MoneySmartAu.

Budgeting apps

While the spending tracker apps go into the fine details of every cent you spend, these budgeting apps can give you a broader overview of your financial health.

5. Goodbudget

Availability: iOS and Google Play.

An American app that’s also available down under, Goodbudget labels itself as a ‘budget tracker for the modern age’, yet it uses the old-fashioned ‘envelope’; method of saving: you set yourself limits for certain categories of spending and it limits you to only spending what you have. For example, you can set monthly limits for groceries, coffee, shopping etc. To help make budgeting a bit sexier, Goodbudget presents all of your spending in cool-looking pie charts, and of course, it links to your bank accounts.

Globally this app has more than one million downloads and has a 4.4-star rating from more than 18,000 user ratings. It is a paid app but the free version still lets you use up to 20 ‘envelopes’.

Key features of Goodbudget:

  • Sync to bank accounts & expense tracking
  • Export data to Microsoft Excel
  • View your spending by category – a proven method
  • Reports, such as an income vs spending report
  • Schedule transactions and automatic envelope fills

6. Moneytree

Availability: iOS and Google Play.

Moneytree connects to over 50 financial institutions in Australia and creates a total net worth for you based on your bank accounts, debts, loans, investments, superannuation and even your rewards points. It can send you notifications for large incoming and outgoing payments, like salary or rent, plus for other things like rewards points that are set to expire.

This app has more than 100,000 downloads from Google Play and an average rating of 4.3-stars from nearly 2,000 reviews.

Key features of Moneytree:

  • Sync with multiple bank accounts and financial institutions into one convenient location
  • Provides a total net-worth
  • Get notified of salary payments, large transactions, low balances, upcoming bills and rewards points
  • High levels of security

Tax time

If you’re looking to save money on your taxes, there are plenty of apps you can use. But given the importance of a correct tax return, there’s only one app we’ve included in here.

7. ATO app

Availability: iOS and Google Play.

According to the Australian Taxation Office:

“The ATO app puts tax and super help in your hand, making it easier for you to conduct your tax and super affairs on the go.”

Essentially, it lets you check for deductions and other tax-related information as well as a range of tools and calculators to ensure you get the correct tax return. This app is extremely popular, with more than 500,000 downloads from Google Play, but has a fairly average rating of 3.4 stars from over 1,000 reviews. Only the official Apple App Store and Google Play links should be used to download this app since there is no shortage of non-genuine apps from scammers.

Key features of the ATO app:

  • Voice login
  • Record and manage work-related expenses
  • Upload your myDeductions records to your tax return
  • Calculate how much tax to withhold from salary and wage payments
  • Search for any Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Set key reminders for important dates
  • Do a financial health checkup on your business

Other ways to save

A lot of these apps so far have been pretty similar – sync with your bank, categorise your spending, blah blah blah. Here are a few popular mobile apps that can help you save in ways that are a little different…

8. Finch

Availability: iOS and Google Play.

Recently launched in 2018, Finch has already won numerous awards, including Best Digital Wallet Fintech Australia 2018 and Best Personal Finance App 2018. It currently has an average rating of 4.6-stars on the Apple App Store from nearly 100 user ratings.

Finch describes itself as ‘the financial app for your social life’: it allows you to track group expenses and instantly pay friends (or receive payments). A study by OpenTable from the UK in 2016 found that 38% of people feel like they lose money when bill-splitting – an average of £8.73 (more than $AUD15) each time. Finch can help stop you from losing this money by tracking who owes who what and what the money was spent on.

Key features of Finch:

  • Instant payments without requiring BSB numbers
  • Easy and automatic bill-splitting
  • Payment reminders and notifications
  • Foreign currency conversions for holidays
  • Easy-to-create groups
  • Expense tracking
  • Biometric ID and bank-level security

Source: Finch – Pay friends, stay friends.

9. ShopBack

Availability: iOS and Google Play.

If you like to do shopping online, ShopBack can help you save money in the form of cashback deals from over 500 stores. Using the mobile or web app gives you access to the latest coupon codes and deals from popular brands like Woolworths, eBay, The Iconic, Uber Eats and more.

It has had more than one million downloads from Google Play and has attracted an average rating of 4.1-stars from more than 26,000 reviews.

Key features of ShopBack:

  • Up to 30% cashback on online purchases
  • Partnerships with more than 500 stores
  • Cashback in your bank account within 48 hours
  • Push notifications for offers relevant to you

Source: ShopBack.

10. Quit That!

Availability: iOS only.

If you have a bad habit you feel is costing you money, like eating too much junk food or drinking too much alcohol, you can record how much you spend on these habits in Quit That! and see how much you save after giving it up. It has a live counter showing your progress and is 100% ad-free, although you can make a donation to the creator with the money you’ve saved.

Quit That! has been downloaded more than two million times from the Apple App Store and has an average rating of 4.7-stars from over 500 reviews.

Key features of Quit That!:

  • No ads with an easy-to-use interface
  • Live counters showing your savings progress
  • Timers on how long it’s been since you quit
  • No limit on habits you can break

Your bank might have a good savings app too

Depending on which bank you’re with, you may not even need any of these apps. More and more of them are starting to roll out helpful features in their mobile banking apps to help customers save, including the big banks.

A common feature being rolled out by financial institutions now is the ’roundup’ feature, which can round up every debit card transaction to the nearest dollar and directs these ’roundups’ (usually a few cents) to your savings account. This kind of passive saving can really give your savings a boost without even realising it.

While these apps won’t work for everyone, have a play around with some of them for a while to see if they help you. A simple download might end up changing your life completely.

William Jolly
William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research and comparison website Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.
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