It’s never a bad idea to have a little help managing your money – and when you’ve got monthly mortgage repayments to make, balancing the books is extra important. There’s a great range of apps and tools designed to help you budget, save and track your finances. And we’ve put together a list of some worth checking out.
Budgeting and Tracking
The formula is pretty simple. To balance your budget you need to know how much you’re spending and what on. One great way to keep close tabs on your financial health – on a daily basis – is by using one or more apps and tools to help.
Pocketbook describes itself as a personal assistant for your financial situation, and can be linked with your bank accounts, credit cards and loans. Once you’ve done that, it will automatically keep track of where your money goes, organising your spending into categories such as loan repayments, groceries, household bills and more.
Moneytree gives you an overall picture of your financial situation; from your bank accounts, credit cards and digital currency wallets (think Bitcoin and the like) to your superannuation accounts and daily spending. The app also keeps track of loyalty points, such as Frequent Flyer points and store reward cards, so you know what you have, when they can be spent and if they’re about to expire.
If you need something that helps you set rules as well as track spending, YNAB (You Need A Budget) has plenty of fans around the world. It’s designed to stop you living from payday to payday so you’re ahead of your bills and budgeting, not trying to catch up.
The digital tool itself requires a yearly subscription, and that sign-up comes with access to online forums, guides and classes that will help you – in the words of its creators – “give every dollar a job”.
Being late when it comes to paying bills can cost you late fees and potentially impact your credit rating – meaning it could be harder for you when it’s time to apply for a loan.
Apps like Easy Bill Pay are designed to help you stay on top of what’s due and when. You can add your latest bills to the app, schedule regular bills you know will be coming in, and link your bank account to the app. Then, the app will calculate what bills are due in your cycle and pull money from your funding source.
If you’re splitting bills with one or more people – your partner, other family members, housemates – Splitwise can help make sure everyone pays their part. You can assign people to groups, add bills that need to be shared, then nominate who owes what and keep track of who’s paid and when.
If you’re in the market for a mortgage, thinking about becoming a homeowner or considering refinancing, the first step is knowing how much you can borrow – and what your repayments might be. Many lenders provide online calculators to help you work out the details.
NAB provides a suite of tools that can estimate your home loan repayments, suggest how much you can borrow, calculate what you might pay in stamp duty, compare the cost of renting to buying and more. There’s also a tool that can help you decide if debt consolidation is right for you.
And the Australian Government’s Moneysmart site also offers a calculator that can estimate your borrowing power and suggest ways to pay your loan off faster. With some basic details it can give you solid answers in just a few minutes.
Of course, it’s important to remember that these types of calculators and tools should be used as a guide only. It’s always best to consult an expert, like a mortgage broker, for more concrete answers.
Smart investing can be a good way to diversify your financial situation and exposure to risk, and help your money grow. And there several smart apps and tools available that make being an investor part of your everyday spending.
Raiz is one example that aims to turn everyday Aussies into everyday investors. Money that’s added to your Raiz account is invested into a mix of exchange traded funds, based on which of six pre-determined portfolios you choose. Each offers different types of investments based on your appetite for risk and how long you’re keen to invest.
You can make one-off payments or regular deposits that are invested, but what’s really unique is the way you can invest your spare change. When you make purchases, Raiz rounds up what you spend to the nearest dollar and turns those extra few cents into “micro investments” that are pooled together and can add up quickly over time.
One way to make sure your financial situation stays in tip top shape is by keeping your tax payments and tax returns always up-to-date. And the ATO has an app loaded with tools and calculators to make things as easy as possible.
The ATOs myDeductions feature means your expense and income records are all in one place, so when tax time comes around you can upload all your deductions into your tax return application, or email your information to your accountant.
Don’t forget that these are just some examples of what’s available, and there may be other apps and tools available that are better suited to your personal situation. It’s always best to do your research, read the fine print and consult an expert for dedicated advice.