7 of the best free budgeting tools that work in NZ
There are plenty of fantastic, free budgeting apps out there - but not many of them work in New Zealand. If you’re sick of seeing “Not Available in your Country”, we’ve put together 7 of the best budget building and/or tracking tools that are perfect for savers in Aotearoa.
Read more: 8 steps to make a yearly budget
1) YOUR BANK
If you’re signed up with a New Zealand bank, they may already have a budgeting tool ready for you to use.
These tools are usually very basic but are a good entry-level point for new budgeters or those who just want a general overview of their spending.
Recommended for: Beginners or those who want to get a simple overview of their spending without extra effort.
Sorted.org.nz provides a simple, easy-to-use budgeting planner that is excellent for making a first, broad budget. However, it lacks functionality to track a budget after it has been created.
While it’s free and user-friendly, it’s best to pair this tool with another budget creation method to get into the details as well as a budget tracking tool.
Recommended for: New budgeters who want to make their first, broad budget
Like Sorted.org.nz, PAYE.net.nz provides a budgeting tool. It’s a highly user-friendly offering with lots of customisability, and even suggests how much you should spend in each budget category once you get started.
It also has some other useful tools for budgeters, such as the PAYE calculator. This makes it useful for getting started. But like Sorted, it isn’t useful for tracking your budget afterwards.
Recommended for: Budgeters who want more flexibility than the Sorted.org.nz budget builder.
4) GOOGLE SHEETS
Google Sheets is a free Google product that people use as an alternative to Microsoft Excel for everything from reports at work through to household budgets.
One of the biggest benefits of Google Sheets is that there are a large number of community templates for it, including budgets. This means that no matter how you like to build a budget, there’s probably a Google Sheets template out there for you.
Sheets is highly adaptable and can be used in a variety of ways, but for budgeting, it’s best to use it for building a budget rather than tracking it. While there is an app to use Sheets on the go, it’s difficult for the average user to use. If tracking is your goal, you’re better off using one of the other more specialised tools on this list.
Recommended for: Building your initial budget and keeping it updated.
PocketSmith is available as an online tool as well as an app. It provides forecasting, scenario testing, and general budget tracking. You can make various lengths of budget, ranging from daily through to monthly. This makes it notable among other entries here which usually force you to pick one time period.
PocketSmith allows you to quickly see your spending habits over time. The forecasting is especially useful, as it gives you an idea of where you’ll be in the future, not just what happened in the past.
Best of all, it’s New Zealand made, which means it is ideal for us kiwis who might be forgotten by other tool makers.
PocketSmith has a free and a paid version, the most notable addition of the paid version being the ability to ‘sync’ your bank with the software. This means no more need for manual entries. However, the free version offers a lot of the same functionality, including automatic categorisation of transactions after some initial upfront definitions. This makes building your first yearly budget a lot easier.
Recommended for: People who are comfortable with making a budget and want to have some advanced functionality for future goals.
Wally is an app that is available as Wally+ for Android and Wally Next for iOS. It is primarily used for budget tracking rather than building a budget, which makes it perfect for an on-the-go kiwi who already has a budget.
It’s a simple and easy-to-use piece of software that is completely free. There’s no premium version, so nothing is locked behind a paywall. This does mean it lacks some of the more advanced features that other tools have, but that can be a point in its favour for budgeters who just want to track their spending.
In order to use it, you do have to make manual expense entries with every purchase in the real world, which may get tiresome.
Recommended for: People who are looking for a simple budget tracking tool that is easy to use and can be carried wherever you go.
Goodbudget is a budget tracking app with a difference: it uses a digital ‘envelope system’ to make keeping track of your spending easy.
If you’re not familiar with the envelope system, here’s a breakdown. You put money into literal envelopes, separated by category. You would have one for groceries, another for entertainment, another for rent, and so on. When you need to buy something, you pull money out of the relevant envelope and use that. This way you immediately know exactly how much you have left to spend on that particular category for the rest of the budgeting period.
Goodbudget digitises the system so that all the ‘envelopes’ are kept on your app. Other than this, it works the same way. It’s a simple system, easy to use and highly effective for on-the-go budgeters.
However, Goodbudget does have some limitations. There’s no autosync to your bank account so you have to track everything manually. You can also only monitor one bank account at a time, which is not ideal for those with multiple. It also isn’t so useful for making a budget in the first place, so you have to know what you’re working with before you start.
Despite these issues, it is likely the best tool for beginners on this list. An easy-to-use system and simple interface makes it great for keeping track of your weekly spending.
Recommended for: People who like Wally but also want to use the envelope system.