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The Best Money Apps

Smart apps make light work of managing your money online, says Diana Clement. That’s because computers crunch numbers better and faster than the human brain.

19 October 2021

Applications on Android, iOS, and other platforms could really revolutionise your financial life, from splitting bills with friends to investing in cryptocurrency. Virtually every smartphone owner on the planet could find one or more apps to suit. Here are five cool apps that worked for me.

PocketSmith for budgeting

PocketSmith is one of the best budgeting apps I’ve tried over the past 20 years. It lets you categorise your income and spending, right down to the last cent. Like all the best budgeting apps, PocketSmith has a safe-tospend feature which lets you see at a glance whether you have money left in a ‘wallet’ to spend, such as groceries or fun money. That makes it harder to break the budget. The really killer feature for PocketSmith is a bank link, which means your accounts are updated automatically straight from your bank. Alternatives: Spendee has grabbed my attention of late. It’s on its way to being a great app, but still lacks full connectivity with New Zealand banks. Others include: YNAB, Buxfer, Toshl, Wally. There’s a budgeting app for everyone.

TransferWise for transferring money overseas

If ever Kiwis needed an app, this is one to disrupt our banks. As someone who travels, sends money to friends and family overseas, and buys online internationally, TransferWise has changed my life. It’s a borderless account that allows you to upload money and exchange into other currencies at the real mid-market rate. The fees tend to be cents, where banks might charge you at least a $5 minimum. The app now offers a real-life Mastercard and I was one of the first New Zealand customers to get it. I only received it before my big overseas holiday earlier this year, but I’ve done the maths and this card would have saved me NZ$204 in rip-off transaction and fees from my bank. TransferWise is supervised by the Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand. Alternative: XE Money Transfer

Blockchain for cryptocurrencies

My introduction to cryptocurrencies was at a conference where a young IT-type was trying to convince the woman next to him to buy NZ$10 of Bitcoin. His aim was to explain the concept, but she wasn’t taking the bait. “I’ll buy it!” I interrupted, and within a few minutes I’d downloaded the Blockchain app and paid my NZ$10 to buy a small amount of his Bitcoin. My small investment soared to $170 and back down to $112 over the next couple of years. But don’t think these currencies are a magical way to make lots of money. Their values rise and fall. The app is a wallet to send, receive and store cryptocurrency and is simple to use. Alternative: Coinbase.

Splitwise for splitting the bill

Say goodbye to arguments over divvying up costs with friends. Bill-splitting apps like Splitwise keep a running total of who owes what. It’s great if you’re on holiday with your tightwad friend who avoids paying things at all costs, or if you're living in a flat and need to pay up your share of rent and bills at the end of the month. The only downside is Splitwise uses PayPal for finalising the bill and not that many Kiwis use PayPal. There’s no reason, however, that you can’t just finalise it in cash or by bank-to-bank transfer. Alternatives: Splid, Settle Up, or at the time of writing ASB and Westpac were testing a bill-splitting app called Zeal.

PriceMe to find the best price

So, you’re out shopping or online shopping and you want to know if the price for your object of desire is competitive. If that’s me, I look it up on PriceMe. Armed with that information you can sometimes get retailers to drop their prices. Just show them the result from the app. Or if you don’t want to buy that iPhone 11 until the price drops to a certain figure, set up a PriceMe price alert and you’ll be emailed when the price drops. Alternative: PriceSpy.

Published 25 November 2019

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