Five apps to help you budget and manage your money

As ever-increasing living costs continue to hit household budgets, it’s essential to get a sense of your incomings, outgoings and overall financial position.

While banking apps have come a long way in providing transaction and spending insights, it can be difficult for households to get a total picture if their finances are spread across different accounts and institutions.

Thankfully there are a number of money management and budgeting apps designed specifically to help bridge the gap. Here’s a rundown of five free and paid options available in Australia.

1. Frollo

Price: Free

OS: Android and iOS

If paying for a budgeting app sounds counterintuitive to you then the free money management app from fintech Frollo could tick a lot of boxes. So what does it do?

Users can link their accounts from a range of banks, superannuation funds, lenders, brokerage platforms and more to get an overarching view of their financial position in the one place. One of the benefits here is that accounts from eligible institutions can be linked using open banking, which means you won’t have to share your password with Frollo.

The Frollo app can then break down this financial data pulled in from your various accounts into categorised spending buckets (e.g. income, living, lifestyle and savings) and provide you with a picture of your net worth based on your assets and liabilities. There’s no option to edit the existing buckets or manually add new categories though.

You’ll also be able to set a budget, create financial goals, view upcoming bills and, interestingly, create a financial passport based on your income, expenses, assets and liabilities which can be used with some lenders when applying for a loan. Unlike some of the other money management options around, Frollo doesn’t provide a web-based interface (it’s just an app) and users can’t currently export their data.

2. WeMoney

Price: Free (no cost) or Pro ($9.99/month)

OS: Android and iOS

A self-described financial wellness platform, the WeMoney app is another option with plenty of features for Australians looking to create a more complete picture of their finances. Like Frollo, WeMoney users can link their accounts from a comprehensive list of banks and financial providers, including some which can be connected via open banking.

WeMoney can then showcase your income and expenses from various accounts and show you how your spending compares to previous months. You’ll also have the ability to create budgets and financial goals, and view your net wealth including assets you may have outside of your financial accounts, like cars or valuables, which can be added manually.

A monthly credit score checking service is also available inside the app, although because of this, first-time users will need to verify their identity with a drivers licence, passport or Medicare card, along with some other information, when signing up for the app.

All of these features are available with the free version of the app, though WeMoney also offers a Pro option for $9.99/month with greater customisability, a more extensive list of features and access to a desktop version of the platform.

3. Goodbudget

Price: Free (no cost) or Plus (US$8/month or US$70/year)

OS: Android and iOS

Goodbudget is an American budgeting app which can be used by Australians, and it might prove particularly appealing to anyone interested in the envelope system of budgeting. For those unfamiliar, the method is all about splitting your expenses into categories (via actual envelopes) and then allocating money to each one which can then be drawn down on as needed.

Of course, Goodbudget is an app, so in place of real envelopes users can create digital envelopes (e.g. groceries), input their income and then assign transactions (e.g. $45 Coles shop) against the relevant envelope. Transactions can also be split across multiple envelopes and envelopes can be stacked side by side to see how much you’ve spent or have remaining each month.

At its core Goodbudget is built for budgeters who love the idea of being able to manually enter each transaction, because there’s no option to automatically link any bank or other financial accounts with the app. Having said that, users can import and export their transaction data themselves and they will also be able to generate a number of spending reports.

There are both free and paid versions of the app, with the main difference being that the free version limits the number of envelopes and accounts that can be created. There is also a web version of the platform available to all users.

4. YNAB (You Need A Budget)

Price: US$14.99/month or US$99/year

OS: Android and iOS

Like Goodbudget, YNAB is built around a philosophy. In this instance it’s the zero-based budgeting system whereby every dollar of your income is allocated a purpose. This is the fundamental base on which YNAB is built on, but one of its ultimate aims is to help users transition from living pay cheque to pay cheque to being able to budget at least 30 days ahead.

So how does it work? Users can create customisable budgets by setting up expense categories (e.g. bills or frequent costs) and income sources, and then assign money from that income against their expenses either automatically (which is based on need) or manually. While it’s possible to link bank accounts in the US, it’s not in Australia, but income sources can be entered manually.

Aside from the core budget feature YNAB also allows users to set and track goals, and carve up and view their financial data in a variety of reports such as a net worth breakdown of assets and debts and a categorised breakdown of spending over time.

YNAB can be accessed via a mobile app and a web-based version, though budget and transaction data can only be exported on the web platform. Unlike some other options on the market there is no free version of YNAB, but there is a 34-day free trial.

5. Pocketsmith

Price: Basic (no cost), Premium ($10.95/month or $99/year), Super ($21.95/month or $186.96/year)

OS: Android and iOS

Started in New Zealand, Pocketsmith is among the more comprehensive budgeting and personal finance options available to Australians and it can be accessed through a mobile app or a web-based platform.

Users are able to manually import their own transaction data (including from other budgeting apps) or set up automatic feeds from a list of Australian and overseas financial institutions, though the latter option is only available with the Premium and Super versions. Transaction data can also be exported.

Pocketsmith can automatically categorise these transactions (they are also customisable), which users can then use to set up their own budgets or have Pocketsmith generate one for them. Users can also dig into the weeds with search and filtering tools, or access a range of reports including income and spending reports or a net worth report which can take into account deposit account balances, investments and property as well as outstanding loans and liabilities.

Financial forecasts, such as projected cashflow and interest earnings, are also available, though the projections range from six months with the Basic version to 10 years with Premium and 30 years with Super. The extent of the features available also differ between the versions, so it’s worth comparing the options to find the right fit for your needs.

Interested in taking a look at even more apps that could help make your financial life easier? Check out these three apps to help you save money or these five apps to help you reach your money goals.

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