Living costs too high? Simplsaver money app could help you avoid the budget spiral

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Mobile banking and contactless payments have become the preference of most Australians; there’s something about the simplicity of just having your money all in one place. Now, with inflation pulling everyday prices out of reach, budget apps have climbed to the top of the download list.

However, suddenly paying attention to your money after letting things run themselves can sometimes lead to a budget – and mental – spiral. So if you’ve discovered your finances are in a bad way, what can you do? 

Money apps like Simplsaver could be your ticket out.

Simplsaver: your money, straight up

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Terrified of making a budget? You’re not alone: it can be confronting to see your money raw. 

“The more I talk to people about stressed budgets, the more it feels like budgeting is just too difficult and time intensive, so we just don't do it,” explains tech and finance journalist, Leigh Stark, in an interview with Mozo. 

“And then we keep spending, gradually cutting back on things, often to no avail, because we can't work out where the issues are. That causes stress and can lead to a budget spiral where it feels you just can't get out. I get it. It sucks.”

However, it’s never too late to start a budget – though a cost of living crisis is a good time. That’s why Stark became the founder and developer of Simplsaver, a no-frills budget app that tells you what you’re spending where, and what to do if you’re in the red. 

“I tried budget apps and found they did very little in terms of communicating what my money was doing,” says Stark. 

“They were very much about trying to fit my finances to a budget, as opposed to explaining what my finances were doing, which I desperately needed. I needed to know why it felt like my money was disappearing when I was trying to control it.”

Many budgeting apps these days use open banking and AI to pull your spending and saving from your bank account and analyse it for you, but Simplsaver follows a more traditional route. Users download the app and input their ongoing expenses manually, compiling a monthly overview of their income and spending. 

And if their spending’s too high? Simplsaver will offer solutions – just tap the dollar figure and read through the suggestions.

How Simplsaver works

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Simplsaver is at its core a budget calculator: that’s it. But it has much of the convenience we’ve come to love about money apps.

Many of the most popular services, like Netflix subscriptions or insurance, are pre-populated through the Simplsaver app options, while common fields like rent or mortgage payments, broadband and mobile plans, and grocery shopping can be entered with ease. 

Once you’ve loaded your income and regular spending into the calculator, Simplsaver will break down your money overview and show you clearly where you’re spending the most – and where you can cut back. 

“I think it's important for people to try to work out what's going on, otherwise they'll never get on top,” says Stark. “The problem is typically time and ease of use. We're all time poor, so budgeting is the last thing we’ll do.”

As an added bonus, Simplsaver keeps your data local to your phone: none of your information gets sold. As a tech journalist, Stark knows well that if a product is free, the customer is the product. 

“It's all stored on a user's phone, so while other free budget apps like Frollo go for using the data as the product, I wanted this to be private on a person's device,” says Stark.

Simplsaver can be downloaded free from the Apple App Store; Stark told Mozo an Android version is in the works. The first five items you add to your budget are free – after that, a $6.99 annual subscription fee applies.

Is Simplsaver a good budget app? Let’s break down the pros and cons

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As a long-time user of Frollo (which won a 2022 Mozo Experts Choice Banking Apps & Tech Award), as well as a cost-of-living writer, I was curious to see how Simplsaver stacks up as a budget app. Here’s what I found. 

NOTE: Your preferences and needs might be different from mine.

Collage of screenshots from the Simplsaver money app.
Courtesy of Simplsaver.
Budgeting (gradient)

Pros of using Simplsaver

  • Manual input. Simplsaver is essentially a calculator, so it’s on you to input your expenses manually. This could be a pro or con for some people: personally, it’s refreshing and encourages ownership of all ongoing costs. 
  • Very simple, raw number cruncher. There are no pop-ups, extra features, or distracting menus. Simplsaver is just a budget app. That’s it. 
  • Low cost as a subscription. If you opt for the in-app purchase, Simplsaver is only $6.99 a year. Amazon Prime is about to cost $3 more than that per month. But, if you don’t want to buy it, the first five line items on your budget are free. 
  • Data is localised to your phone. Concerned about your digital privacy? Simplsaver is too. It’s lovely to know your data isn’t sold out from under you just because you want to take charge of your finances. The only downside is if you accidentally delete the app without backing your phone up, all your progress is lost. 
  • Works best for monthly costs. Simplsaver subtracts your monthly costs from your salary, letting you know how much you have left. Spending too much? You trigger the solutions mode.
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Cons of using Simplsaver

  • Manual input. Again, for some people, this could be the kicker. You’ll need to remember all your expenses, have specific numbers, and type it all in. Missed an expense? It’s on you. 
  • Not useful if your expenses vary, like utility bills. Subscriptions and rent will cost the same month to month, which is where Simplsaver shines. But if your bills fluctuate, particularly grocery shopping and energy costs, Simplsaver can be less specific and useful. 
  • Some interface teething issues. Some interface issues slow things down, such as deleting zeroes before typing in a line item’s cost. These may be resolved with future updates.
  • No bells and whistles like savings buckets/goals, bill reminders, or AI analysis. To be clear, Simplsaver is designed to be just that: simple. If you’re looking for extra features like bill reminders to help you shore up your finances, this app isn’t it right now. Stark says he plans to add more comprehensive features in future, such as CSV export. 
  • Could be confronting for a timid new budgeter. The manual input and lack of analysis features may not be the friendliest to someone timid and just starting out.
  • Solution mode is less practical and more ‘where to find help’. If you trigger the ‘in the red’ alert (i.e. go over budget), Simplsaver takes you to a screen with links to the National Debt Helpline, Lifeline, and ACCC. If you’re looking for more specific, practical advice on your situation, the app has no answers. Luckily, that’s what sites like Mozo are for. 

Overall, for what it is, Simplsaver makes a compelling first option if you’re just starting out with your budget, with some distinct pros and cons to suit different tastes. In the developer’s own words, the app is just “fast and easy”. 

“In terms of targeting bad choices, I think what Simplsaver does is highlight the choices we're making,” concludes Stark. “Knowing that can help work out the importance, and what you can cut back on or even change.”

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