Are personal finance apps worth the hype?


    Katrina C. Guevarra

    With the promise of helping people keep track of their expenses and manage their money better, mobile users have gravitated toward personal finance apps to help them improve their financial management skills.

    Given that these finance apps are compact and handy, not to mention their fun-looking interface, it’s no wonder people gravitate toward using them. But are personal finance apps really worth it? Or are they just a trend that will soon pass? I talked to five people from various professions who all use, or have used, personal finance apps to find out about their experience with the apps.

    Kenkaiser Casilao, a developer by profession, tried using a budgeting app upon the recommendation of his supervisor. He likes using the said app because he finds it user-friendly and produces reports. Prior to using the app, he would create his budget manually. “Manual ako dati, parang 40 percent to 60 percent yung budget for expenses, 10 percent wants, tapos remaining ipon na. (I used to do it manually, 40 percent to 60 percent for expenses, 10 percent for wants, and what’s left goes to savings).”

    For him, the main benefit of using a personal finance app is being able to get a visual where he can see where he overspends. “Like sa allowance ko nakikita ko na nagoverspending ako, tapos cut ko na lang yung spending ko (Like when budgeting my allowance, I can see where I overspend, so [with the app]I can easily cut down on that).”

    When one is sharing living expenses with others, it can be hard to track the expenses. Good thing, there are also personal finance apps that are specifically designed for such concerns. An example would be Splitwise. Anton Bonev, a marketing consultant, uses Splitwise to track the expenses he shares with his flatmates and friends.

    “You can make a list of who have paid for their share, how much, what currency, and among how many and which people are specific expenses split.”

    Like Casilao, Bonev also enjoys the fact that the app gives its users a breakdown of expenses every month and has an image capture feature for tracking his receipts. He was able to reap its full benefits by using it, together with the app of his bank of choice. “Splitwise helped me budget my expenses because I am expecting the same recurring bills to arrive at the same time (internet, electricity, water, rent). whereas the banking app helps me check how much money I have on hand.”

    Mabelle Paloma, an employee, on the other hand, is also a big believer in the benefits of using personal finance apps, having used Acemoney from 2006 to 2010. After using it religiously and maximizing its features during that period, she was able to get a ballpark figure of her family’s expenses.

    “Sobrang helpful talaga yung data na nakuha ko from that period that I was using the app, kahit gaano pa ka-tedious sa simula (The data I got during the period I was using the app was very helpful, despite a very tedious start).” Getting this figure helped her estimate her monthly expenses better. She said although the process was tedious at first, the rewards she got from it were worth it. “Negligible na yung effort, kasi naoffset siya nung knowledge na nakukuha mo about your family’s basic cashflow.” (The efforts exerted in setting up the data in the app became negligible because they are offset by the knowledge you gain about your family’s basic cashflow).
    However, using a personal finance app seems not to be for everyone. Take for instance, Espie Trinidad, entrepreneur, and Vanessa Pineda, housewife. “It’s very useful for me when I’m consistent with it. Otherwise, it’s just one of those tools,” narrates Trinidad. Pineda, on the other hand, gravitates toward using the good ole’ Microsoft Excel in tracking her finances despite having tried personal finance apps.

    “Mas Excel person ako eh. Dati I used this certain [personal finance]computer app, but I found using Excel easier. (I’m more of an Excel person. Before, I used this certain [personal finance]computer app, but I found using Excel easier.)”

    She further explains that she also gets a good overview of her finances through Excel, “I get to keep track of my monthly expenses, savings, and investments.”

    At the end of the day, whether a personal finance app is effective in helping one manage his money and investment depends on the person using it. “Different strokes for different folks,” or so they say. Consistency of use, lifestyle, and how a person processes information also play a big role in successfully adapting to it. But what matters in the end is not the tool but how one actually decides what to do with the money that presents an opportunity to spend or save.

    Katrina C. Guevarra is a content writer for MoneyMax.ph, the Philippines’ leading comparison website for insurance, credit cards, and loans. We want to help you save money through free and fair financial information, so please tweet us: @MoneyMaxPH, like us on Facebook: MoneyMax.ph, and email your comments to kat.guevarra@moneymax.ph. For more information, visit our website: www.MoneyMax.ph


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