19th Dec 2018
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Handy app keeps track of your spending
Author: Olga Galacho
Fast-track your savings

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.

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    COMMENTS

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    Rae
    19th Dec 2018
    11:16am
    Great idea to see where disposable income is leaking away on unnecessary purchases.
    maelcolium
    19th Dec 2018
    11:28am
    Great idea, but never use a banking app on your phone. No smart phone is secure. Use your computer protected with a an internet security app to access any bank information. I'm even a bit suspect of iPads with mobile capability, which diminishes the security of the device.

    The other issue is that your data can be mined for information on spending habits, brand preferences and a whole bunch of other information unrelated to your budgeting needs. It's like these home control devices that turn your lights on and off at a command - ticking away in the background is all your usage data being collected and onsold to third parties.

    Merry Christmas.
    Greg
    19th Dec 2018
    1:10pm
    This app they are talking about is offline, never have to go online with it so no security issues.

    I love it.
    KSS
    19th Dec 2018
    1:09pm
    With the ever faster march towards the demise of cash due to the rapid rise in use of -tap-and-go' devices, I can't help but think that personal debt levels will inevitably rise along with all the tapping. It is much easier to register spending when you actually have to hand over the cash no matter how small the amount. A coffee or two here and there, a newspaper/magazine, lunch, that drink in the pub, the take away on the way home, the automatic top up of travel cards ..... all add up to a significant amount of money. These are now unseen expenditure until that is you get the statement or the 'tap' is declined due to insufficient funds.

    In a cashless society there will be no 'jam jars on the mantelpiece' with the week's money portioned out!
    Gypsy
    19th Dec 2018
    1:36pm
    I still use jam jars :) And lay-by.

    19th Dec 2018
    3:57pm
    Too much of a pain to have to enter every single expense individually on your mobile or tablet

    I just look download my credit card statement once a month - for personal tracking as well as for tax expenses

    Never ever spend more than my income so daily tracking is a waste of time . Have to force myself to make large purchases or do some speculative share trading which i do when bank blance gets too high
    Sundays
    19th Dec 2018
    8:13pm
    Any budgeting tool is a good thing. I use a spreasheet but pen and paper would work just as well. Key is to have a budget, stick to it and don’t spend if you can’t afford it. If you must have something but know you can’t afford, take a pause. Don’t rush off. Remember, credit cards and things like afterpay are loans. Pay them off by the due date to avoid crippling interest. I’ll have to check this app out


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