You can pretty much run your life on your mobile these days, and that applies to managing your money as well.
There is a huge range of personal finance apps designed to help you track spending, build savings and keep on top of bills. Best of all, most are free. We asked some UAE finance and investment experts which apps they have on their phones and would recommend to others.
Liv. from Emirates NBD
How it describes itself: Liv. is the UAE’s only digital lifestyle banking app, created by Emirates NBD
Key features: You can open an instant bank account and earn 2 per cent interest a year, split your bills with friends via its Pay Someone feature; share money using social media and benefit from 50 per cent off deals at your favourite restaurants, activities and getaways.. The account also offers a Visa debit card.
For use with: iPhone, iPad, and Android
Cost: Free to download
Expert view: Ambareen Musa, founder, and chief executive of comparison site Souqalmal.com, says: “This helps you track your expenses and stay on top of where your money is going. You can also pay bills, send and receive money securely through social media, split payments with friends, and access deals and discounts on dining, movies, getaways, and more.”
How it describes itself: Fudget is a simple and fast alternative to complex budget planners or personal finance apps. There are no categories to manage, no charts to interpret and no learning curve.
Key features: It allows you to create simple lists of incomings and expenses, keep track of your balance and use a single-tap to add entries or edit. This is a global app but can be used in the UAE, with AED.
For use with: iPhone, iPad and Android
Cost: Free to download
Expert view: Ms Musa says: “This global app is a really simple, no-frills budgeting app aimed at those who struggle with clutter. You can select AED as your preferred currency and create as many monthly, weekly or daily budgets as you want, based on your requirements. There are no fancy pie charts and graphs, just good old income and expenses tallying.”
How it describes itself: “Wally lets you keep track of the details as you spend money: where, when, what, why and how much.”
Key features: This UAE-created app can compare your income to your expenses, understand where your money goes, and set and achieve goals. You can also save pictures of bills and receipts and the apps is available in every currency “from the American Dollar to the Congolese franc”.
For use with: iPhone and Android
Cost: Free to download
YNAB or You Need A Budget
How it describes itself: Stop living paycheque to paycheque, get out of debt, and save more money.
Key features: You can connect all your bank accounts in one place, access your real-time info from any device and share finances with a partner to help you avoid overspending. There are educational tools to help you get out of debt as well as budgeting workshops and ways to track your progress.
For use with: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Android
Cost: Initial free trial for 34 days then $6.99 a month, billed annually at $83.99
Expert view: Ms Musa says: “This isn’t free but offers some really cool features that allow you to prioritize debt repayments and rope in an ‘accountability partner’ to help you stay committed to your financial goals.”
How it describes itself: Budgeting software based on the “envelope method”. Plan your spending instead of just tracking your spending.
Key features: This tool can divide your income and cash for each month’s expenses into “envelopes” for different budget categories such as groceries, transportation, eating out, and rent, to help you control your spending. It also syncs and shares household expenses, and helps you save for big expenses.
For use with: Mac, iOS and Android
Cost: Free although you can upgrade you can pay to upgrade for $6 a month or $50 a year for extra features such as unlimited envelopes, up to five devices, unlimited accounts and email support.
Expert view: Ms Musa says: “As well as tracking your balance and controlling your spending, you can sync your household budget across multiple devices and share it with your spouse or other family members.”
How it describes itself: Splitwise takes the trouble out of sharing expenses – with friends, with roommates, with anyone. Share bills and IOUs. Make sure everyone gets paid back.
Key features: Split expenses with your friends by keeping a running total of what’s owed, so you can pay each other back in one big payment, instead of a series of small ones. The app comes with friendly email reminders and notifications of upcoming shared bills such as the rent as well as reminders if you forget to pay someone back. Make sure to expenses as soon as they happen. It can convert all your bills to any currency you’d like, using today’s foreign exchange rates.
For use with: The web, iPhone and Android
Cost: Free to download
Expert view: Mr Khairajani says: “Splitwise helps remove one of the biggest headaches when we mingle with our friends or relatives, splitting bills. It tallies all the bills by the end of the month and sends reminders to the people who owe your money, which can resolve awkward situations.”
The best of the rest
Other personal finance apps worth considering include Toshl, which lets you connect all your bank accounts and credit cards, track your income and expenses, and budget. The basic app is free although you can pay for more in-depth services, starting at $1.67 a month. You can use practically any currency you want, including UAE dirhams.
Beamwallet calls itself “the leading mobile wallet app in UAE”, used by 750,000 people, that lets you pay using your phone and collect rewards at the same time.
Another to consider is Dewa, from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, which helps you view and pay utility bills in real time, activate your electricity and water supply when moving premises, as well as tips and videos to reduce consumption.
Stuart Ritchie, director of wealth advice at AES International, says local money-saving and lifestyle apps can also help you cut your spending. “The Entertainer, Groupon and Cobone are all great ways to save with 2-for-1s on dining out, even at top restaurants, as well as staycations, shopping and days out, like visiting local waterparks. They are particularly useful when friends and family visit and want to do all the tourist things, which can prove expensive. Classifieds site Dubizzle can help you save or make money buying or selling items online.”
Tuan Phan, a board member of SimplyFI.org, a non-profit community of UAE investment enthusiasts, says clever downloads and fancy graphics aren’t the only way to manage your money. “I prefer the original ‘pen and paper’ app for monthly budgeting and tracking. Although there’s no automatic update function and takes me a couple minutes to manually complete, it forces me to evaluate all my purchases in the cold light of day.”
Steve Cronin, founder of Deadsimplesavings.com, an independent community for financial education in the UAE, says the old ways may still be the best. “I still use an Excel spreadsheet to manage my money.”
Source: The National.