Make cents from your internet banking

Want to leverage the power of internet banking to your advantage? The answer is to track your spending and budget using free online banking applications.

If you consider budgeting a bore, think again. Online money management applications take the grunt work out of budgeting by crunching the numbers for customers automatically.

All the banks have budgeting related tools on their website. Westpac and National offer simple budget planners that require customers to manually enter figures about their spending and the tool produces a budget for the consumer.

BNZ, ANZ, and Kiwibank have money management applications that import transactions from a customer’s accounts into the budgeting software and can categorise recurring payments.

It’s easy. The banks’ applications open up showing customers’ latest income and expenditure from their bank accounts and credit cards in one window. All the customer needs to do is use a drop down box or similar to choose a category for items that aren’t recognised from previous months such as one-off purchases.

Once done, customers can look at how much they’re spending in each category. Pie charts of spending can be a brutal reminder of where all the money goes.

ASB’s Track My Spending is good, ANZ’s Money Manager and Heaps.co.nz from Kiwibank are better because users can include accounts from other banks, giving them an overview of all of their banking and spending, not just that limited to their main bank.

Good money management applications allow users to split payments between two or more categories, and to add as many categories to spending as a customer may want.A payment at Mitre 10 or Bunnings Warehouse may be for a new dishwasher, cleaning products and plants, which may need to be split between categories.

The ability to add unlimited categories is also useful. A customer may want to separate lunches from restaurant and takeaway costs rather than lumping them into “dining and bars.”

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