Five major banks have their own apps, which offer some budgeting and money management functions. In most cases, you need to be a customer with the bank to log into the service. But how do their budgeting features measure up to the dedicated apps?
The CBA has four consumer mobile apps – CommBank, CommBank Kaching, CommSec and a Property Guide – as well as additional apps for businesses. They’re handy for money management and transferring cash on the fly, but offer very few budgeting options. There are a few basic functions that can help you set your spending goals and track your expenses, but you need to log in to your Netbank account for these to work. If you want to use the CBA for budgeting assistance, you’ll have to use its browser based tools. CommSec and the Property Guide are useful tools for investors, but live trading with CommSec requires a paid account.
NAB condenses most of its money management tools into one app. As well as being able to transfer money and pay bills, you can schedule payments and view your online portfolio in one location. There are some basic tracking tools, including savings and loan calculators, but these aren’t as advanced or detailed as a budgeting app. Most of these tools are available in NAB’s Money Tracker program, but you won’t find a dedicated version for mobile devices. It’s possible to get around the lack of a dedicated app, as the program is browser based. However, it may not be entirely optimised for smartphones, and certain features may not function properly.
Included with St. George’s standard mobile banking app is a detailed budget planner. It lets you monitor your income, manage expenses, set savings goals (iOS only) and study transactions with a basic reports and comparative graphs. Even non-St. George customers can use the budgeting portion of the app for free.
The reports summarise whether you’ve saved or spent too much over a specific period. They can be broken down into categories that compare your target based on actual expenditures, so you can easily see where you may need to adjust your spending. You can set up a budget from scratch, or choose from one of eight pre-prepared categories that estimate your income based on data from the ABS (2009-10). You can’t sync your financial information from your bank account with the budgeting portion of the app.
Our previous roundup
highlighted ANZ MoneyManager
for its ease of use and availability to non-ANZ customers. Since then, ANZ has released mobile apps for iOS and Android called goMoney, but these are reserved for ANZ customers who need to bank and pay bills on the go. ANZ doesn’t limit its mobile banking to the smartphone market. If you’re using an older mobile phone (with buttons instead of a touchscreen), you can still check your account balance and receive mini-summaries of your past five transactions via text message.
Westpac’s main mobile budgeting apps for Android and iOS are reserved for mobile banking, which includes transferring money between accounts, paying bills and scheduling these payments. A few basic budgeting tools are included, such as financial calculators and instructional videos, but there are no fully featured budgeting tools comparable to the other apps. It also offers professional tools similar to Commonwealth Bank and a saving app for kids called PayPig.
Export your report
Most financial apps can export your data. This makes it easy to view the information on a computer, and, in some cases, import it into other programs. Most use at least one of these formats:
- OFX (Open Financial Exchange) Industry standard report format, designed to open in all financial programs.
- CSV (comma-separated values) Each line represents a single transaction.These usually represent the date, a description, income or expense amount and a running total. They’re separated with commas.
- Microsoft Excel format (XLS, XLSX) Content is similar to CSV but may be organised slightly differently. Excel can also open .csv files.
- QIF (Quicken Interchange Format) Originally written for Quicken financial software. Although it works best when used with Quicken, it is recognised by most financial packages.
- HTML Less common. Exports your data as a summary in web page format. Suitable for printing reports.