When online banker ING Direct asked customers what they were saving for, no surprises for guessing a deposit for a first home was number one at 29%, and paying off the mortgage was number three at 9%.

At least there was some fun, however. Some 17% said they were saving for a holiday!

Setting goals is good. But getting a little help from technology is even better.

Wouldn’t it easier if someone else (even a robot!) was there to give you a nudge to pay your credit card or a slap on the wrist when you ordered that chocolate cake?

We road tested some of the latest – and found they can really help.

Getting smart

Those clever guys at ASIC have some really nifty tools – and the good news is, they are all absolutely FREE.

Track My Spend is designed to give Australians more control over their money.

You can set a budget using the online tool at Moneysmart, and use the app to record your expenses and see where your money’s going.

You can even divide your spending between Wants versus Needs – those Jimmy Choos versus a salad for lunch.

Users love it for its simplicity – but you can’t export data to the Cloud or sync it with the Money Smart tool. You’ll also need to spend some time manually recording your flat white orders. I tried it for a while and found I got lazy.

The major players

Amazingly, the big banks have done little that we could find in this space.

The CBA’s Netbank app certainly provides a good dashboard so you can see how your accounts are tracking. And it allows you to easily transact online.

But it and its competitors still lack the smarts of the new wave of FinTechs.

Best of breed, in our opinion, is MoneyBrilliant, which is owned by AMP.

Pocket-sized assistance

A kind of ‘financial assistant’ in the palm of your hand, it syncs to all your bank accounts and home loans then automatically captures transactions.

But it goes further. You get alerts about bills and balances, insights and advice, and a monthly review of where your money has gone.

There is a free version which gives you an account overview and helps you manage spending, budgeting and reports.

And there is a version costing $9.90 a month which gives you personal insights into your spending – including monthly trends and where you should cut back or increase activity.

It’s a bit like carrying your accountant in your pocket.

The hard part is giving a private entity all of that information. But considering the tap-and-go way we spend today, it’s really the way of the future.

Just make sure you only deal with recognized brands.

Peter Lord, founder of Money Brilliant, says that people waste about $1,226 a year because they don’t keep track of their spending. Once you’re on top of things, that’s almost 300 flat whites you won’t need to feel guilty about anymore!

Meanwhile, here are a few more apps that will cheer you up this weekend – courtesy of ING direct.

MotorMouth – A crowd-sourced database of petrol stations and fuel prices from all across Australia. All station information is added and edited by users like yourself (iOS and Android compatible).

The Happiest Hour – Dinner and drinks on the cheap. This app will help you hunt down the best deals at pubs, clubs and restaurants Australia wide (iOS and Android compatible).

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