When you’re juggling study with everything else in your life, the last thing you want to spend time thinking about is a budget. And yet, whether you have reduced work hours to allow more time to study or simply think you need to be saving more and spending less, being in control of your finances is incredibly important.
Making your budget student-friendly can be hard enough. However, although finances can seem daunting at first, there are ways to make managing this area of your life a little easier. Here we look at five of the best budgeting apps for students that can take some of the hassle out budgeting and even … dare we say it … make the process fun!
Track my Spend
This is by far one of the most simple budgeting apps out there and great for anyone who just wants a better idea of where their money is going.
Through Track My Spend you can nominate a spending limit (per week, fortnight, month or year) and track your progress. Every time you spend you will enter the item into your app and attribute it to a ‘needs’ or ‘wants’ category. This is handy as it helps you get a handle on how you’re spending your money and also helps you identify areas where you could be saving a little more.
If you get to the end of the month and see that a large percentage of your spending falls into the ‘want’ category, you may decide to cut back on some of your spending.
Similar to Track My Spend, this self-proclaimed ‘seamless and intuitive’ budgeting app helps you get a better idea of how you spend your money. With Wally you can set financial goals and achieve them by better understanding your money habits and altering them in the future.
Taylor Gordon from Magnify Money suggests Wally is best for people who simply want an app that will help cut down on excess spending: “the budget history section of Wally is a breakdown of your spending with minimal detail. However, if you’re looking for an app that has more to offer in the analytics section, this isn’t the one for you,” she says.
You Need A Budget (YNAB)
You can’t argue with the name, can you? If you’re someone who quite enjoys managing an excel spreadsheet, then this budgeting app is a great option. You Need A Budget (YNAB for short) is a detailed platform to manage all of your finances – and you can connect your bank accounts and set yourself goals for reducing debt and saving.
Lifehacker.com says that YNAB is best for people who like to spend a little more time on their budgeting: “since you have to manually import transactions at the end of each day, YNAB isn’t very forgiving if you stop paying attention. It’s great for people who have rigorous habits and want a tool that will let them manipulate the fine details.”
Where many budgeting apps require you to manually enter your spending, Pocketbook automates a lot of this for you. The app connects to your bank so you can track income and expenses automatically, helping you better monitor your monthly spend. This is a great budgeting app for students – especially during the exam period when it can be easy to forget life admin tasks. It can also auto-detect bills in your transaction history and send you an alert when a bill needs to be paid.
In an article for The Australian, Krishan Sharma suggests that Pocketbook is a great option for anyone looking for a reason to get rid of those trusty Excel spreadsheets.
“By syncing all your bank accounts, credit cards and loans, the app will automatically categories and tag at least 80 per cent of your transactions so you can see exactly where your money is going,” he says.
Now for something a little different. Acorns is a budgeting app that allows you to invest your spare change automatically from everyday purchases into a diversified share portfolio.
Basically, you connect your bank account to Acorns and then every time you make a purchase it will round up to the nearest dollar and invest that amount. So your morning latte that costs $3.50 becomes $4.00, with 50c invested.
Writer and author of Making Money Simple, Noel Whitaker, wrote in The Age last year that Acorns is one of the greatest products he has seen in his career.
“Acorns is far more than just a method of investing small sums – it is also a brilliant educational tool … If you decide to use the program as a saving tool it will give you a projected balance at any date in the future you choose,” he says.
Are you already on top of your finances? Maybe a career as an accountant or a financial planner is for you.