Christmas chews through your money faster than you can say 'Dear Santa' … till now.
Christmas may be just days away, and if you have already spent on gifts and other jolly season goodies, you will have already noticed a bigger than usual dent in your budget.
I usually do, which last month got me wondering if I will run out of savings before the end of the year. This would put me in a precarious situation come January when a rush of bills arrive in my letterbox.
Car registration and insurance, study-related spending on the teenagers, extra-large water usage bill … and the list goes on.
This year, I wanted to avoid the struggle of getting through the summer with minimal cash so I used the MoneySmart TrackMySPEND mobile phone app.
This award-winning budgeting tool from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) not only allows you to see precisely where your money is going, it also allows you to:
- nominate a spending limit (per week, fortnight, month or year) and track your progress
- separate 'needs' and 'wants' to identify opportunities to save
- create 'favourites' so you can track frequent expenses
- view your expense history
- add 'tags' to categorise expenses and set spending limits for each category
- create expense reminders sent as text messages to your phone
- auto-fill expenses based on past entries
- backup information to prevent data loss
- synchronise your profile and use on multiple devices
- export data to a CSV file (for Excel, or other financial software)
The app, which is available for free on Google Play and the Apple App Store, works best when you enter a spending limit for a defined period of time, such as a week or a month. As you pay for goods and services, you input the information and your spending is tallied, allowing you to see how much of your limit you have left for future purchases.
Your spending limit can be one lump sum, or you can divide it between categories such as groceries, entertainment and eating out, transport, medical, utilities, and so on.
One of the options allows you to set up expense reminders. This is handy if you have a payment that is due on the same day each month or quarter. By allocating a reminder, you can check that your savings balance will cover the bill, which is useful if your payments are direct debited and you are not sure how much is left in the account.
You can ‘tag’ or select as ‘favourite’ certain expenses that are important, and delete ones you no longer need to keep track of.
TrackMySPEND allows you to delete your spending history from your device and from the MoneySmart server.
And the app is not limited to smartphones, as it can be synchronised and used across multiple devices. It even has a mode for using it when not connected to the internet.
For many, it might be too late to set up this app for this year’s Christmas shopping madness, and the pain of having overstretched your budget is already being felt. But now you know there’s hope for next year.
Do you have a novel way of budgeting to make sure you are always in a position to pay bills? How do you manage your Christmas and holiday season expenses?
Financial disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.