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Tap To Tweak Your Budget

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Tap To Tweak Your Budget
Jyotika Sood - 03 July 2021

Aditi remembers those little red notebooks her father would buy every year. He would write details of his daily spending there. She grew up with this culture of measured spending. When she moved to Delhi from Shimla with her first job five years back, her father showed her one of his notebooks and asked her to keep track of what she earned and where she spent the way he kept the records for years.

The young B-school graduate didn’t realise the importance of this lesson much until the pandemic began rocking the world since last year. The dreaded blow of Covid-19 shattered the financial format for most individuals like her and redefined the importance of savings and budgeting. Just like any other millennial, Aditi, too, went a step back to budget her expenditures. She followed what her father taught her. Only with a difference: the little notebook was replaced by a mobile app.

“It’s an altogether different experience when you know how and where you spent and it has helped me to be cautious on how I handle my money,” says the Noida-based employee of British research firm IHS Markit.

There were several options on Google Playstore and she downloaded the free versions of a few of them and finally picked up Money Manager. “It has features like creating groups and subgroups in expenses, it keeps a backup on Google Drive, and of course, has great reviews by users,” Aditi says. She is now planning to migrate to the paid version that is free of advertisements.

Budgeting is integral to financial planning but many people hardly care for it. In simple words, budgeting is all about planning your expenses against your earnings for a specific period. It is as much essential for an individual as it is  for a family or a business. The practice of budgeting saves on three counts: it stops unnecessary expenditures, makes some savings for future, and helps you avert a debt in times of need. It also helps you make your dreams come true.

Developing the habit of budgeting and making it inherent to your daily routine give you a greater control on your finances and, in turn, secure financial independence.

And, all it takes now is a smartphone, to do the job. There are hundreds of mobile applications available on the net. Every app has its own unique features. On CashBook, for example, you can click a photo of a bill and upload it instantly while making the entry for a specific expenditure along with statements in a PDF format. Many of these apps have an option of keeping your accounts as a backup on your Google Drive, marking of daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly and yearly expense categories. These also allow credit and debit card management functions along with passcodes for safety.

The money management apps market is still in its nascent stage in India and Indians are yet to adapt to this system. Most of the users opt for the free version. It has an attrition rate of around 20 per cent. People generally use these apps for a month or so and then uninstall them. Money Manager in its seven-year journey has managed only one-crore-plus downloads, says the Google Play store statistics, while there are other applications which have just a few lakh downloads.

Many of the mobile money management apps, according to sector trackers, respond to their reviews to enhance user experience and in turn rein in deserters. Some paid versions also offer the option to select the language. This gives the apps an edge in the remote markets. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic changed our lives there has been an increased penetration of smartphones and internet.

This has helped apps like Income Expense-Daily Expense (IE-DE) succeed in rural India. Over the last two years, Ankit Saraf, who had developed the Budget Manager app has seen downloads reaching 2.5 lakh across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The app developers thrive on either of the two options available to them: advertisement and subscription.

“Most of the app developers depend on advertisements and that makes the users unhappy,” points out 43-year-old Ankit. His three platforms have around 35,000-40,000 active users. Ankit has launched his app in Hindi version, too, called Aay-Kharch.

Day-to-Day is another success story with a 4.5-star rating on Google Playstore. Padmaja Sheshadari’s app clocked over 10 lakh downloads in the last three years and is now available in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, English, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Punjabi, Malayalam and Kannada versions.

The computer science and engineering graduate created the app while waiting for her first job. “I got this idea to develop an app for tracking expenses for a few of my family members. In the initial years, there were very less installs. But that was quite normal for a new app that’s gone to the market without any promotion,” she says. “I kept improving the app once I started getting feedback from users. I tried to give it usability (easy to use in multiple languages), stability (reduction in app crashes), performance (user-friendliness and smooth running), backup feature (storage on cloud) and PDF option (ready-to-print or dispatch records),” says Padmaja.

Now working with a multinational, Padmaja is more focused on improving her app to give the best user experience for free, and not to generate revenue, although she believes that Indian customers are open to the idea of in-app purchases or subscription-based models.

The fate of the money management apps hinges on the maturity of the Indian user to the subscription-based model. “Advertisements are the biggest put-off for an user and there can’t be an alternative without making the apps paid,” says Ankit.

Although the concept of money management apps is fairly new, it received a traction from new normal. It’s no longer a phenomenon confined only to the urban millennial. The launch of vernacular versions has taken it to a larger cross-section of upwardly mobile rural masses as well.

As the budgeting apps take long leaps, there is an increasing concern among the users about data security. The worries worsened since the instant loan app scam surfaced early this year. “I am using Wallet – Money, Budget, Finance and Expense Tracker app. It’s not an Indian app and that makes me more cautious about not using data like bank accounts while making notes. Although I subscribed to their in-app purchases as they are very handy while calculating extra spending at the end of the month,” says Priyanka Mittal, who works for an IT consulting firm.

“One has to be always cautious about data being shared on any electronic medium. If the apps are for free, it is for using your data. The question is how the data is being used. Is it being used in a benign manner or in a manner that harms you,” says Jaijit Bhattacharya, President of the Centre for Digital Economy Policy Research.

There are indeed many apps in Playstore which are a copy of original apps created solely to show ads. Users must choose the right app based on honest reviews and ratings. “When it comes to budgeting apps, always choose the app, that provides good backup facility. No one wants to lose important financial data,” alerts Padmaja.

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Apps & Reviews

The App: Money Manager

Rating on Google Playstore: 4.7 stars

App Type: In app purchases

Downloads: 1 cr+

User Review: Perfect app that meets my need, also lets u add your own income and expense category and subcategory. Excel file can be generated and shared. First I downloaded free version after some days of usage I found it perfect for my needs, hence bought paid version to remove ads and also support the developers for this wonderful app.

– Rudra S (May 16, 2021)

The App: Wallet – Money, Budget, Finance and Expense Tracker

Rating on Google Playstore: 4.7 stars

App Type: In app purchases

Downloads: 50 lakh+

User Review: It's okay. Free app is good. I didn't like the paid version because of bugs. When I connected dbs bank, it shows the amount in dollars instead of Indian rupee and the amount was completely wrong. The among it was showing was 6 times the original amount in my bank. For my icici credit card, I couldn't connect it. I raised tickets. But it wasn't solved. The remaining accounts connected perfectly. Also, there is no way to connect paytm bank account.

 – Sourav A S (May 16, 2021)

The App: Monthly Budget Planner & Daily Expense

Rating on Google Playstore: 4.7 stars

App Type: In app purchases

Downloads: 10 lakh+

User Review: Hello team, App really getting better and I like it, thanks. But if you guys add below missing features then it becomes very very best app. 1. Option to copy existing transaction to reduce manual entry (reach option is not fully helpful) 2. Upload n Download of excel templates with all fields (where sub category is missed now) to reduce manual entry 3.Allowing to add 2 to 3 custom fields in transaction to enter quantity etc as per user need 4.

– MK (May 14, 2021)

The App: Day to Day Expenses

Rating on Google Playstore: 4.5 stars

App Type: Free

Downloads: 10 lakh+

User Review: Excellent app...I was searching this kind of app for a long time.... good job, developer.... just two suggestions, 1. Add disable option for "backup", 2. Make "income" invisible in monthly view, when we don't add any income for the day...( These are only my opinion, choice is yours)... wish you all the best... Updated: Now it's better than before...

 – Akhil Biswas (May 5, 2021)

The App: Income Expense – Daily Expense, Budget Manager

Rating on Google Playstore: 4.5 stars

App Type: Free

Downloads: 1 lakh+

User Review: Excellent application. I have been trying with similar applications available on play store but each one had limitations. Your app is complete in itself. The best being export in XLS and pdf formats and cloud backup in Google drive or similar platforms. The categories are well planned and cover almost every thing one needs in day to day financial and expense management. The architecture, planning and flow chart of the app gets 10 on 10 frm my side.

 – Bimal Jain (May 3, 2021)

Disclaimer

The Apps suggested are based on reviews and ratings on Google Playstore. Outlook Money doesn’t take any responsibility, Use apps based on your own discretion.


jyotika@outlookindia.com

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