Five smart phone apps to help you manage your money

Five smart phone apps to help you manage your money

We live in an era of constant connectivity, with smartphones beeping, tablets flashing and laptops popping up with all kinds of alerts. But some of these interferences are much more than just that — they can save you money.

Regardless of your financial position, it’s reasonable that you want to protect your money, reduce your credit card debt and grow your future wealth. It seems more Australians are jumping on the trend to manage their money — from the comfort of their smartphone!

“Where internet banking gave people the convenience of banking at home, smartphones now give them the convenience of banking anywhere,” said Pip Elliot, Roy Morgan New Zealand General Manager. 

Aside from your bank’s offering, what other mobile apps are on the market to help you manage your money?

Pocketbook

Do you feel like your finances are beyond your control? The creators of Pocketbook have tapped into this sentiment to deliver an app that helps everyday Australians manage their finances.

Pocketbook automatically sorts your spending habits into the applicable categories, from clothing to fuel. It connects with Australia’s major banks and seamlessly pulls your spending data to give you personalised notifications to help you meet savings goals and stay on top of pesky bank charges.

BillTracker

Internet, electricity, mobile phone, gas and landline bills are a reality of life. If you’ve taken out a car loan for a shiny new vehicle, you’ll have repayments to look forward to.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had an app to keep you in the loop of when bills are due? BillTracker tells you which bills are overdue, which bills are due shortly and which bills are payable in the next 30 days.

Expensify

If you’re self-employed, using Expensify could be a smart choice. 

You can easily add cash expenses, import card transactions at the drop of a hat and keep track of billable and reimbursable expenses. 

The app automatically categorises expenses, too.

XE Currency

If you’re heading away on an overseas holiday, you still need to manage your money. 

However, there’s more to it than ensuring your regular payments go out of your account without a hitch. If you’re playing with different currencies, it pays to know how much those souvenirs, delicacies and tourist trips are really costing.

The XE Currency app provides live currency rates so you can quickly establish the equivalent cost of an item in Australian dollars.

Your bank’s app

Do your banking on the train! Most banks, such as ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, UBank and Westpac, now have their own mobile apps, which can easily be downloaded for free onto your smartphone.

These apps allow you instant access to all your linked accounts so you can transfer money, find the nearest ATMs, set up saving goals, track your spending, check your balances and pay bills.

Like the RateCity home loan calculators, which will help you work out your repayments, there are plenty of money, budgeting and planning applications on mobiles and online — so do yourself a favour by keeping on top of your financial commitments and savings plans.

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Learn more about savings accounts

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

How can I get a $4000 loan approved?

While personal loans and medium amount loans don’t offer guaranteed approval, there are steps you can take to help increase the likelihood of your application being approved, including:

  • Fulfilling the eligibility criteria (providing ID, proof of residency, proof of income etc.)
  • Checking your credit history (you can order one free copy of your credit file per year, and make sure that there aren’t any errors that may be bringing down your credit score)
  • Comparing carefully before applying (making multiple loan applications can mean having your credit checked multiple times, which can look bad to some lenders and reduce your chances of being approved by them)

Can you set up direct debits from a savings account?

It’s not usually possible to set up a direct debit from your savings account to cover ongoing expenses or bills, as savings accounts are structured around growing your wealth by earning interest on regular deposits, and discouraging withdrawals.

Some transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits and also earn interest, though you may not enjoy as much flexibility as a dedicated transaction account, or get as high an interest rate as a dedicated savings account.

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria

Can you direct deposit to a savings account?

Yes. You can make one off payments or set up regular direct deposits into a savings account. This can be organised easily through online banking or by making deposits in a branch. Talk to your lender to find out the easiest way for you to set up direct deposits.

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.