With a number of Aussies copping the brunt of inflation, cost of living pressures and rising interest rates, there are a number of ways you can save including refinancing to a lower rate on your home loan, opting for a used car over a new one, cutting down on credit card interest and more. It sounds simple enough, but in reality, identifying where you can spend less money and finding practical ways to improve them can be challenging.
Back in the day, people would pore through receipts on a Sunday night and write all their expenditures down. But today, personal finance apps have become the new norm for Aussies looking to budget and save with thousands available through either Apple's App Store on iOS or the Google Play Store.
Best Budgeting Apps of 2023 based on category
- Best free budgeting app: Frollo
- Best for managing debt: WeMoney
- Best for group budgeting: Beem
- Best for bill reminders: Get Reminded
- Best for cashback deals: Shopback
In no particular order, here are some of the most popular budgeting and savings apps available to Australians.
Availability: iOS and Google Play.
App store rating: 4.7 stars
Google Play rating: 4.6 stars
Cost: Raiz is free to download, but there are fees when you start investing.
Although it’s primarily an investment app, it also has features that are helpful for saving. Not only can you utilise the micro-investing or recurring deposit features as a tool to save via investments, but it also has a free ‘My Finance’ feature within the app that provides personalised insights into your spending. This feature can categorise your spending into things like food or utilities and breaks it down on a month-to-month basis.
While the investment platform of Raiz might come with fees, it costs nothing to use the savings feature on offer by Raiz.
Key features of Raiz:
- Roundup technology, allowing you to either save or invest every time you spend through your linked transaction account/s.
- Lump-sum and recurring investment options, easily allowing you to invest more money at the touch of a button.
- Your money can be invested in one of six diversified ETF (exchange-traded fund) portfolios.
- Cashback options are available after spending money with linked brands.
- Personalised insights into your spending, including categorisation.
- Savings tips sent via push notification, based on machine learning that can also predict your future spending.
- A chatbot is available for you to ask questions like “how much did I save last month?”
- Bank-level security to protect your information and money.
App store rating: 4.7 stars
Cost: Free to download, however users must pay a subscription to unlock full functionality. Buddy Premium costs $4.99 per month or $34.99 per year.
Buddy is a Swedish budgeting app that helps you set up a budget and keep track of your expenses. Individuals can invite their friends, family, and partners into their budgets to keep on top of expenses and get a clear picture on who spends what.
Users can also import all their transactions from their bank accounts to see how their budget is doing.
Key features of Buddy:
- Sync from Australian bank accounts.
- Split function allows you to see who paid what and how to settle up the bill.
- Simple, yet detailed overview of your spending, income, and savings.
- Users can create their own categories and choose the colour themes of the app.
- Can set up multiple accounts as well as any debt to see total net worth.
App store rating: 4.0 stars
Google Play rating: 3.3 stars
Frollo is an Australian fintech best known for providing open banking services. Frollo offers free and secure synchronisation with your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, superannuation and investments into an interface that allows you to monitor your spending. Frollo also lets you take daily, weekly, and monthly challenges to try and save money.
Frollo can also send you money tips and notifications e.g. letting you know if you have upcoming bills due.
The budgeting app also has a Financial Passport feature powered by open banking, to provide an easy to understand overview of income, expenditure, assets and liabilities for the last twelve months. Frollo users can utilise the Financial Passport feature to get a better understanding of their financial position and borrowing power, or share it with their broker via PDF to facilitate a conversation about their financial future.
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.
- A dashboard for tracking your net worth.
- Bank-level security and encryption.
- Track tax-deductible expenses.
App store rating: 4.6 stars
Google Play rating: 4.3 stars
Cost: Free basic plan, with a paid plan costing US$8 per month or US$70 per year.
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.
Unlike some other budgeting apps, Goodbudget requires you to manually input each transaction - there is no way to sync your bank account to the app for automatic updates.
The free version allows one account, two devices, and up to 10 'envelopes'. Meanwhile, the paid version allows unlimited envelopes and accounts, and up to five devices.
Key features of Goodbudget:
- Simple way to get started with budgeting
- Export data to Microsoft Excel.
- View your spending by category - a proven method.
- Reports, such as an income vs spending report.
- Spending analysis for each envelope, including pie-charts.
- Schedule transactions and automatic envelope fills.
5. Get Reminded
App store rating: 4.5 stars
Google Play rating: 5 stars
GetReminded claims it can help households save thousands per year by reminding them when household contracts and bills are set to expire such as utility bills, car insurance and registration, and subscriptions. As GetReminded co-founder David Wareing has previously told Savings.com.au, it can also show you cheaper policy options.
"They’re [the suggestions] obligation-free, but they're really just there to help consumers to commence the shopping around process and not leave everything into the last minute," he said.
Alerts are sent to your phone and email with the relevant advertiser’s offers so you can start shopping around straight from the app.
Key features of GetReminded:
- Set reminders in multiple categories across all household costs (insurance, health, personal expenses etc.).
- Annual cost summaries for household contracts.
- Simple, easy-to-use interface.
- Multiple automated reminders ahead of time and when you need them.
- Can recommend cheaper policies.
App store rating: 4.3 stars
Google Play rating: 4.0 stars
Cost: Free basic plan, with the paid WeMoney Pro costing $9.99 per month (first 7 days free).
WeMoney has been dubbed as a “financial wellness” platform that allows users to gain a full 360 degree picture of their overall financial health by connecting all of a person's financial accounts into one convenient place, such as:
- Savings and transaction accounts
- Credit cards and buy now, pay later
- Home loans and personal loans
- Share trading accounts
- And superannuation funds
As well as tracking a person's net worth, WeMoney also allows users to:
- Track their credit score
- Create budgets within the app
- Receive upcoming bill reminders
- Connect with other users in the community to receive tips
Through the app, you can automatically categorise your transactions, track your bills and subscriptions, and set monthly budgets and money goals. WeMoney claims the average member improves their credit score by 63 points just 9 months after signing up to their service.
WeMoney doesn't sell your data to third-parties, and comes with Fingerprint, FaceID, and PIN logins.
App store rating: 4.9 stars
Google Play rating: 3.8 stars
Beem (owned by Eftpos) is a free-to-download mobile payment app that helps solve those awkward "hey-you-owe-me-this-much" moments.
Through the app, users can pay and receive money securely within a matter of seconds - as long as they’re both registered Beem users. It’ll even nudge people with friendly reminders if they’re yet to pay another user back.
The app also comes with a tracking and splitting feature for shared bills or group expenses, perfect for couples, families, or housemates. You can even browse online or in-store shopping deals and accumulate rewards and cashback with every purchase (just watch out for the terms and conditions).
Key features of Beem:
- Split, transfer and get paid instantly – with no added fees.
- Track and split expenses between mates without any chasing required.
- BPAY is built-in so you know where your money is going and when it’s going to land.
- Information is encrypted so people can’t access it.
App store rating: 4.7 stars
Google Play rating: 4.0 stars
If you like to do shopping online, ShopBack can help you save money in the form of cashback deals from over 4,000 stores. Consumers can earn up to 30% cashback on their everyday online shopping - the cashback funds will be instantly added to your ShopBack account, and you can easily transfer them to your nominated bank or PayPal account.
Alternatively, you can use the funds towards a purchase within the app, whether it’s gift cards, movie tickets, or dine out vouchers.
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, Myer, Booking.com and more.
Key features of ShopBack:
- Up to 30% cashback on online purchases.
- Partnerships with more than 4,000 stores.
- Free cash back in your bank account.
- Push notifications for offers relevant to you.
App store rating: 3.8 stars
Google Play rating: 3.5 stars
Rivalling ShopBack is Cashrewards, helping Aussies save at over 2,000 stores nationwide. In similar fashion, shoppers can receive cashback when they shop online or in-store from popular brands such as Myer, The Iconic, Uber Eats, Apple, Amazon, and more.
Once your cashback is approved by a retailer, Cashrewards will pay it straight into your Cashrewards account, which can then be transferred to your PayPal or bank account.
Key features of Cashrewards:
- Cashback on online or in-store purchases.
- Partnerships with more than 2,000 stores.
- Free cashback in your bank account.
- Push notifications for offers relevant to you.
- ANZ debit or credit cards unlock Max rewards.
App store rating: 4.4 stars
Google Play rating: 3.4 stars
With grocery bills rising no thanks to shrinkflation, WiseList allows users to make a grocery list and then compare the prices of the items on their list against all the major grocery stores (currently only Woolworths and Coles are available on the app) to find the lowest price in their area.
Alerts can be set up for specific items to notify you when they go on special - a handy feature indeed. You can also export your shopping list into Coles and Woolworths online for quick and easy click and collect/delivery.
Key features of WiseList:
- Create grocery lists by manually searching items or by viewing Coles or Woolworths catalogue specials.
- Add items to temporary or weekly needs list.
- Add and scan your rewards cards (Flybuys or Woolworths rewards card).
- Share your lists through Facebook, Wechat, email, or send them the link.
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 banks are opting to roll with the times, bringing out their own budgeting and saving apps to better integrate their product portfolios.
In 2022, ANZ launched its digital banking service ‘ANZ Plus.’ The app offers savings and transaction accounts along with digital money management tools including:
- Manage spending with detailed transaction data including maps, categories and contact details.
- Alerts when you spend or get paid.
- See how your spending adds up with monthly summaries broken down by category.
- Know what’s coming with predictions for upcoming bills and subscription payments.
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 direct these ’roundups’ 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, take the time to download them to your phone and become familiar with the interface to determine if they ultimately will help you achieve your budgeting and saving goals. A simple download might end up changing your money habits completely.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about budgeting
What is a budgeting app?
A budgeting app is a software application designed to simplify the process of tracking income, expenses, savings, debt, financial goals and manage monthly cashflow. The primary purpose of a budgeting app is to enable users to gain better control over their finances, make informed spending decisions, and work towards achieving their financial objectives.
Budgeting apps often sync with your bank accounts to provide an overview in real-time when finances change.
These apps can be used on various platforms, such as smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers, making them easily accessible and convenient for users.
How to choose a budgeting app
Choosing the right budgeting app is essential for effectively managing your finances. With numerous options available, it can be hard to work out the right one for you. To help you out, here's a step-by-step guide on how to choose a budgeting app:
- User-friendly interface - Look for a budgeting app with an intuitive and user-friendly interface. You want an app that is easy to navigate and understand, allowing you to input and access your financial data effortlessly.
- Compatibility - Consider the platforms you use most frequently (e.g. Android, iOS, web, desktop). Ensure that the budgeting app is available on your preferred devices to ensure seamless access and synchronisation across different platforms.
- Security and privacy - Since budgeting apps deal with sensitive financial information, security is crucial. Choose an app that implements robust security measures, like data encryption, password protection, and two-factor authentication, to safeguard your financial data.
- Expense tracking options - Check whether the app allows manual input of transactions or has the ability to connect to your bank accounts for automatic expense tracking. Automatic tracking can save time and provide a more accurate picture of your finances.
- Goal-setting and tracking - If you have specific financial goals, look for an app that supports goal-setting features. The app should allow you to define goals, track progress, and offer insights to help you stay on track.
- Reporting and insights - Consider whether the app provides detailed reports and financial insights. A good budgeting app should present your financial data in charts or graphs, making it easier to analyse your spending patterns and identify areas for improvement.
- Notifications - Check if the app can send you alerts or notifications to keep you informed about your financial progress, upcoming bills, or when you exceed budget limits.
- Cost/fees - Some budgeting apps are free, while others may have subscription plans or one-time purchases. Evaluate the cost and features to determine if it aligns with your budget. Additionally, check if the app offers a free trial to test its functionality before committing.
But remember, before you select the one for you, be sure to consider what your needs and goals are first. Are you looking to save for a specific goal, track your daily expenses, or pay off debts? This way, you can refine your search to tailor your needs.
What are other ways to budget?
You could stick to the good ol' Excel spreadsheet, or even create a budget with a pen and paper if an app doesn’t do it for you.
In terms of different budgeting approaches, you could implement the ‘bucket’ strategy or the ‘50/30/20’ method.
In The Barefoot Investor, author Scott Pape suggests the following percentage splits for the ‘bucket’ strategy:
- 60% to your ‘Blow Bucket’ – which is for everyday expenses like your rent, home loan repayments, utilities, and food.
- 10% to your ‘Splurge Bucket’ – which is for things that make you feel good, like socialising or buying new clothes.
- 10% to your ‘Smile Bucket’ – which is used for savings for fun, longer-term goals like a holiday.
- 20% to your ‘Fire Extinguisher Bucket’ – which is also for your long-term savings goals, but the less fun ones (house deposit, debt, paying off your mortgage quicker).
Or, in the ‘50/30/20’ method, you spend 50% of your income on your needs and necessities, 20% on savings or debt payments, and 30% on wants like entertainment, eating out, shopping, and travel.
Why is budgeting important?
There are plenty of positives to budgeting.
Creating a budget helps you to identify common pitfalls like overspending. It allows you to stay on track to meet your short and long term financial goals. Even better, it helps people break free from financial struggle and create financial stability.
Having a budget and an emergency fund provides a safety net during unforeseen circumstances like job loss, medical emergencies, or natural disasters. This financial cushion can help you navigate challenging times without going into debt.
It’s also handy for couples and families as it fosters open communication about finances and shared financial goals.
Without a budget, it's easy to overspend and live beyond your means, leading to debt accumulation and financial instability. A budget acts as a guide to ensure that you live within your financial means.
Article originally published January 2021 by William Jolly. Updated 28 July 2023.
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