• New Yearís Resolutions App Round-Up: Part 2 - Be Frugal and Save Your Money



    Be Frugal and Save Your Money

    Are you planning a big trip, buying a car or just want to end the year with a savings account that actually has some savings in it? It can be tempting to buy a great deal of things, especially with all these sales going on at the moment. Spend up now, because with all these apps, youíre going to be much more money-wise in the coming year.

    Your own bankís app

    The first step to financial stability is having access to your money on the go - not so you can spend it, but so you can schedule bill payments, review your spending and transfer between your spending account and your savings (but try to limit the reverse of this). In order to do that, download your bankís mobile app. Youíll find that all of the big banks, and even some of the smaller ones, have iPhone apps. You can carry around all your bank accounts in your pocket.

    Iím a fan of the Commonwealth Bank app, although I might be biased since thatís the bank I use. If youíre a regular funds transferer, you might think about getting the Kaching app. Itíll let you send money from your Commonnwealth account to another nearby iPhone without having to input their BSB and account numbers. You log-in, input a few details like the amount to transfer and description and then just bump phones. Payment complete.

    The regular Commbank app will let you send money too, although you can only select accounts currently in your address book. If you want to transfer to someone new, youíll have to log on to the site to do it. For simple, everyday viewing though, the Commbank app will give you access to your statements and your transfer history so you can keep track of your spending.



    If youíre not with Commonwealth, there are still a heap of other bank apps that you can use. NAB, St. George, ANZ, Bankwest, Suncorp and ING Direct all have apps with varying degrees of success.

    NAB provides more or less the same services as the Commbank app: mobile optimised internet banking, find an ATM/Branch, fiscal calculators and foreign exchange rates. Instead of having to use your netbanking login, you can implement a 4 digit passcode for the app which will allow you to access your money faster.



    St. George builds more upon its mobile app, introducing a Budget Planner to help you divvy up your wages and make sure that your money goes as far as it possibly can. Bankwest offers a Savings Calculator to help you do the same. ANZ will give you a Kaching-like option to transfer money to a mobile as opposed to a specific account via BSB and account number. Suncorp lists its exchange rates.

    Unfortunately, not all banking apps are created equal: ING provides a decent face to its app, but itís very basic and only lets you see your last 10 transactions. Not long ago it was simply a link to the mobile site. Future updates should see it fleshed out some more (thatís how Commbank started out after all and now itís got a few really great mobile banking apps).



    While the bankís app shouldnít be all you use to sway you towards one account or another, it should be a serious consideration when choosing which savings account is right for you. Being able to check your account balance on the go is fast becoming a necessity for many, as is mobile money transfers. Just be careful how often youíre using that last one - it may be convenient, but it can drain your account super quick if you donít pay attention.


    Lemon Wallet

    Lemon Wallet is a virtual wallet for your phone. It actually works quite well, despite a few issues. The basic concept is scanning your various cards and receipts to save a digital copy on your phone. You line up your card with the rectangle on screen and Lemon Wallet snaps a picture of it. Turn over your card, repeat and voila - instant virtual card copies.

    The neat thing about Lemon Wallet is that it can identify certain cards and pull up the details for them without you having to type anything! When I tried it out, only about half the cards were picked up in this way, but considering some of them are quite obscure (a very old Marrickville Library card for one) half is a sizeable amount.



    You can even scan in a debit or credit card and itíll pull up the details like the cardholder name, card number, expiry date and the CVV number from the back. Hold on Ö thatís a lot of personally identifiable information. Well, Lemon Wallet handles security by asking you to set up a 4 digit pin code to access any of the data from within the app. Itís not the best method, but you can couple it with a password that completely locks the app and is linked to your Apple ID alone, if youíre willing to pay a subscription fee. It seems a bit unfair to ask us to pay for security for our own data, but thatís how the extra features work. Youíll also be limited to just one credit or debit card with a free account.

    Scanning a receipt worked in much the same way as the cards - you scan the receipt, wait and tada! All you receipt data gets pulled by the app and shows up in digital form: type of purchase, cost and type of payment. If the app gets something wrong, just edit the it - the app stores the original scan of the receipt so you can reference it later. Itís a clever way to keep track of how much youíre spending and where that cash is coming from (your savings account, petty cash, credit cards, etc.) without spending too much time on it.

    While itís incredibly handy and worked far better than I thought it would be able to (it is a free app, after all), it did take quite a while to digitise the data. At first I thought the app had failed and that Iíd have to manually store the data for the receipt, but after a few minutes it all appeared perfectly. If there had been a loading bar or some sort of way to notify me that the digitisation process was still in effect, I think I would have liked it better.

    All in all, the app works amazingly well for something that doesnít cost a cent to use. Itís simple and direct. It even provides a few nifty features like an ĎAdd to Passbookí option thatíll let you move your loyalty cards over into Appleís latest native app if you decide to upgrade to iOS 6. All it lacks is a little more peace of mind for the user in terms of security and possibly some sort of way to show whatís loading in the background. I donít think Lemon Wallet will replace traditional, physical wallets anytime soon (unless the next iPhone comes with NFC, then weíll see), but as a back-up, Lemon wallet is handy and helpful.


    TrackMySpend

    Made by the guys over at Money Smart (an Australian financial help website), TrackMySpend is simple, straightforward and easy to use. Log all your purchases, tag them by category and flag them as ĎNeedí or ĎWantí. That way you can see where your money is going and where you can cut back on expenses.

    At first youíll be asked to input some basic numbers like a time period for your spending cycle (I think time in between paychecks is a good one to put here) and a limit (be honest with this).



    While the premise is simple, the actual app is quite powerful Ö if you use it. This app, more than most, requires your constant attention. Just bought a coffee? Log it. Grocery run? Log. Picked up some Tic Tacs? You get the idea. It doesnít take very long to log an entry (you only get asked four things about the expense - how much, what for, which category and was it necessary?) but it can get tedious if youíre the type of person who buys a lot of things a lot of times.

    SmallSpend is a similar app, but it doesnít have a Need/Want option which I think is quite innovative in TrackMySpend. Iím sure there are others, but if you want basic and simple, this one is it.


    RedLaser

    Red Laser is one of my favourite apps, and I donít even do all that much shopping. It's pretty childish, I know, but I love taking out my iPhone, pointing it at barcodes and getting the product to show up on screen. I know the technology isnít all that radical and new, but it still boggles my mind that weíre living in an era where I donít have to jot down my grocery list - I can just scan the barcode on the empty milk carton and boom, it shows up right there on my iPhone which, incidentally, I take with me everywhere and am very unlikely to forget.

    Red Laser does that, and more. You can create lists, you can look up products and you can even buy some of them directly from within the app. When you look up an item, youíll get to see user reviews, product images, prices, any local listing that sell the item and suggestions on similar products.



    As with any database based application, RedLaser has its flaws. Some items donít scan (although this number is impressively low - I tried a lot of barcodes) and some items have incomplete entries or missing images. Most lacking is the reviews - I didnít come across a single one, even though the option is there. Perhaps theyíre limited to American products or something of the sort? Not sure, but it would have been great to see what other people think about Crayola markers. Personally, I love Ďem.

    A huge plus for RedLaser is how speedy it is! I was connected to wi-fi, but the internet isnít unusually fast, or at least not any faster than it is usually. I scanned the barcode and straight away the app returned a result. It cascade the loading, so it came up in pieces (first the image, then the details section, then the suggestions if you click on that part), but it was still impressive. So much so that I couldnít take a screenshot of the process - instead youíll have to content yourself with me almost scanning the aforementioned markers.

    Download RedLaser, even if you just use it to impress friends or to play with in the supermarket.


    Catch of the Day

    I know, I know - you should generally stay away from these time-sensitive deal websites as you end up spending money on things you wouldnít otherwise think you wanted. Even so, Catch of the Day can help you save money.

    On the front screen, youíll see a rundown of what the dayís deals are with the option to click on it and expand on the details. You can then read up on the deal and finally make a purchase, or go back if itís not for you.

    Most of the deals are quite random and donít fit together in any sort of tangential way, so itís unlikely that a whole heap of deals will catch your eye. So long as you exercise restraint and only click through on deals that you actually need and were planning on buying anyway, then Catch of the Day can save you some serious cash.



    Each deal has a timer and set stock levels, so thereís no guarantee that youíll be able to use them - which is I suppose what makes them so irresistible. Try to stick to your budget and donít overspend.

    If youíre not up for the big ticket purchases, the same company offer a grocery equivalent, Grocery Run, that features everyday item specials.

    What I like about both these apps is how clean the interface is and how simple they are - there are literally three buttons on the main screen (settings, home and cart) and a large tile display for the deals. Most of these kinds of apps can feel cramped or cheap, but Catch of the Day is refreshingly ordered. I think itís because they have a limited amount of deals on at any one time that enables this - which can be seen as a drawback. If you want more choice, and deals that filter by location and category, check out Grouponís app. Itís also quite simple, but it throws in a bit more variety and some usability features.


    These apps can work great in conjunction with one another, and even with some of the stock iPhone apps like Passbook. While they can help you keep this goal, you have to realise that these apps are only as good as the person using them. If you're not committed to this goal, even the greatest apps won't help you out much. If you are set on saving up this year, these apps will ease your path a little and that's what all good apps should do. If you've got any suggestions, let us know.


    @_kellycvieira just learned how to ride a bike - but don't judge her for not learning sooner: she's very uncoordinated and much prefers writing for MobilePhoneFinder.com.au to sporting activities anyway. Although, she does like watching the tennis on TV.


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