Markets are shifting toward online trading. This is one of the reasons why personal finance software Australia reviews are hugely popular these days. The next question, which every person has to ask themselves is this: What kind of system do I need in order to effectively use personal finance software?
Most software packages have high levels of functionality, with budget trackers and related tools being common features, and they’ll sync with your financial accounts to give accurate and real-time information of where you stand. You’ll often find that they’re the ideal accompaniment to the best tax software (opens in new tab) as well, with the ability to link to your tax accounts whilst offering reporting functions and receipt tracking capabilities for the ultimate all-around financial solutions.
Tens of thousands of Australia are still struggling with the hit to their personal finances. So, it’s important to know where you stand with your money, whether or not you’ve been affected so far. After all, no one can accurately predict where we’ll be in a month, six months, or a year.
More than ever, you need to keep a close eye on your income, expenses, budget, and investments. There are many websites and desktop apps that help you understand your personal finances so you can make better, more informed decisions about spending. Many are free, and the rest are reasonably affordable. We review the best here.
All the applications we reviewed have new features, but they share common characteristics. For example, most of them support online connections to your financial institutions. That is, you can download cleared transactions and other account data from your banks, credit card providers, brokerages, and other financial institutions, and see all of it neatly displayed in the applications’ registers. Typically, you simply enter your login credentials for those financial sites, though occasionally you have to provide additional security information.
Once you import a batch of transactions, you will probably spend some time cleaning up the data. For example, transactions need to be correctly categorized as income (salary, freelance payment, and interest, for example) and expenses (food, mortgage, utilities, and so on). Most personal finance apps guess the appropriate categories, but you can always change it—and you can split transactions among different categories. If you’re conscientious about this, you’ll see charts and reports that accurately tell you where you’re earning and spending your money. This information can also be helpful when tax preparation time rolls around.
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Depending on the service, you might be able to add transaction tags. That way, you can search for transactions that are related in ways other than category assignments. You can add notes and attach files, too. If you bought something with cash, though, your bank won’t have a record of it. In those circumstances, you can manually create a transaction. CountAbout and others go a step further, providing additional tools that let you designate selected transactions as recurring, for example. Moneydance, too, is good at transaction management, but Quicken Deluxe tops all rivals.
Quicken’s dashboard lets you see your income and expenses.
YOUR BANK’S APP
Availability: Android and iOs
Manage your money, check your balance and pay your bills on the go and more with your bank’s app.
And, if your bank has this feature, you can use your phone to ‘tap and pay’ instead of carrying around your wallet.
Availability: Android and iOS
Pocketbook is an Australian budgeting app that allows you to track your expenses to work out your monthly spending. You can set spending limits to help you stick to your budget.
This app connects to your bank (19 available) so that you can track income and expenses automatically.
Cost: Free with 10 regular envelopes $6US per month for unlimited
Availability: Android and iOS
This budget app uses a virtual version of the old-fashioned envelope system to help you budget your money.
This is actually the budgeting app I use myself. It’s simple to use and effective. I use the free version and find it’s sufficient for my needs.
Track expenses, monitor savings goals, sync with your partner, monitor cash flow and analyze spending patterns.
While this app isn’t Australia-specific, Australians can use it and it is one of the most popular budgeting apps on the web.
A Different Kind of Dashboard
Every service reviewed here has a dashboard, or home page, that you see when you first log in. Sometimes, the dashboard is the only screen you need to see, because it displays the most pertinent information about your financial situation, such as your account balances and pending bills.
You see charts and graphs that tell you, for example, what your income is versus your spending, and how you’re doing on your budget. You may be able to set goals and gauge your progress at meeting them, as well as see live updates on your investment portfolio if markets are open.
Basically, this overview shows you snippets and highlights of the data analysis these services do behind the scenes (with options to dive deeper). Click a checking account balance in Mint, for example, to go to the account’s register. Click your credit score in Credit Karma to learn what contributes to it and how it’s recently changed. In short, a personal finance app’s dashboard can either provide a quick look at your money situation or serve as a springboard to a deeper financial study.
Budgets, Goals, and Bills
Being conscientious about your finances includes minimizing your expenses so that they come in below your income. That’s the philosophy that the developers behind Personal Capital have: Spend less than you earn every month. Having a realistic, detailed budget helps. Budgeting tools in personal finance applications range from very simple (Personal Capital) to exceedingly complex (You Need a Budget or YNAB).
The mechanics of creating a workable budget are much easier than the process of specifying your limits. It’s often guesswork until you’ve been working with a budget for several months and start to see how your money comes and goes. For that reason, Quicken Deluxe and some other personal finance apps let you use past income and expenses as a model.
Mint treats each category as a budget. You select one, choose a frequency (for example, every month), and enter an amount. The site shows you how well you’re adhering to each budget by displaying a series of colored horizontal bars that show where your spending is currently compared with your budgeted amount. Green means you’re doing OK, and red means you’ve gone over your self-imposed limit. You can tweak each budget as you learn more about your spending habits by clicking up and down arrows.
Quicken Deluxe considers a budget to be a comprehensive table that contains all categories. The software also lets you view your budgets by a variety of time periods (monthly, annually, and so on). It also provides tools to help automate your data entry.
Setting goals, such as establishing an emergency fund, isn’t rocket science. You specify the amount you’re trying to save, the target date for achieving it, and the application tells you how much you have to save every month to achieve it. Some sites do more. NerdWallet, for example, lets you link your goals to the appropriate spending account, so your progress is automatically tracked.
Quicken Deluxe includes additional planning tools that help you accelerate debt reduction, plan for taxes, and establish a comprehensive lifetime financial plan. Personal Capital offers free planning tools on its website, but it also has a team of financial professionals that provide advanced planning services for a fee.
Of the applications we reviewed, only one offers online bill-paying tools as a part of its service: Moneydance. You can set up a connection to the bank where you have a checking account, and use the bank’s bill-pay tools through the service.
Other applications let you at least record bills and bill payments because those figure into your personal finance picture significantly. Mint and Quicken Deluxe are especially good at this. You can set up automatic connections to online billers (Xcel Energy or Verizon, for example) or enter offline bills from suppliers who don’t offer bill pay on their websites, such as your gardener or your occasional tech support person. The site alerts you when they’re due to be paid and lets you record payments manually.
Your Credit Score: An Important Number
An excellent credit score is a gold. Beyond helping you get approved for a credit card, mortgage, car loan, and so on, it helps minimize the interest rate you’ll pay. So, it’s important to know not only what it is at any given time, but also to understand how it gets calculated and what you can do to improve it.
Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, NerdWallet, and WalletHub, all free websites, meet these critical needs. Credit Karma is especially comprehensive and efficient, in this regard. It regularly pulls your score from two of the three major bureaus and gives you access to your credit reports.
One of the ways you can improve your credit score is to use financial products—credit cards, and mortgages—that have attractive interest rates and other benefits, making it easier for you to pay off debt as quickly as possible. The four dedicated free websites we reviewed help pay for the services they provide by displaying occasionally intrusive ads for products that might appeal to you based on your credit profile. You can also browse marketplaces for additional candidates. Mint uses a similar business model so the site can remain free.
Of course, frequently canceling credit cards and/or acquiring new, different ones affects your credit score. Still, it’s good to learn about these suggested products so that when the time comes, you’ll know the best options.
Other Personal Finance Considerations
You may only want to use a personal finance service for day-to-day income- and expense management, budgeting, and goal setting. That said, financial applications, such as Mint and Quicken Deluxe, let you track your assets, including homes, vehicles, and investment holdings. If you keep your financial data updated, the applications maintain a running tally that, when combined with your debt, reflects your total net worth.
You probably don’t need advanced tools when you’re away from your desktop or laptop. Still, when you’re out spending money, it’s good to know how much you have available. The personal finance services that we reviewed offer both Android and iOS apps. Most offer somewhat reduced functionality, but you can at least check your account balances, view and add transactions, and see graphs illustrating numbers related to spending and cash flow. You may also be able to get your credit score and check the status of pending bills. Moneydance is an exception; its mobile apps are not as mature as the competition’s apps.
Are all the reviewed applications easy to use? The short answer is yes. Credit Karma and Mint are the most user-friendly, incorporating state-of-the-art interfaces with can’t-miss navigation tools. NerdWallet blends editorial content with a credit score, plus limited income- and expense-tracking tools. These dual purposes make the site somewhat confusing until you understand how the two co-exist.
CountAbout and Moneydance are certainly easy enough to use, but they have dated user interfaces. Quicken Deluxe has been around for so long and offers so much that its user experience is a little uneven. Its blend of old and new content can be a little jarring when compared with a solution built from the ground up to live online. YNAB takes some study to understand and use it effectively.
Each of these personal finance solutions offers something the others don’t. That said, their skill at delivering the tools consumers need, and the cost at which they offer them, varies. Mint has won our Editors’ Choice award for free personal finance services and does so again. Quicken Deluxe, on the other hand, is our Editors’ Choice pick for paid personal finance services. We’d send people first to Mint if they’re considering online personal finance, because of its usability, thorough tool selection, and useful feedback. And, of course, it’s free. Free is good in these days of economic uncertainty.
The personal finance software Australia reviews on this website are well known for their quality and trustworthiness. These products have been tested for the best value, ease of use, and performance. You’ll find a wide range of different products to choose from including personal finance software Australia 2022 and more.