ASIC’s MoneySmart is a fantastic resource for all Australians who are in a place to take responsibility for their financial situation. Not only do they come up with some brilliant content, but they have also recently released an app to help people reach their financial goals. This article serves to independently review the app.
Here are some images of some of the app’s features:
As you can see, the interface is nice and simple and it has clear marks and colours, which are in line with the MoneySmart branding. I think that objectively, it’s a great tool if you don’t already track your savings elsewhere in a visual way. However, there are Google Tools and budgets which already help do this for free. You can use these tools on your phone.
Although, if you’ve never tracked your goals or habits, this app can be nifty for you. Your goals are not limited to just saving money, but they do have to do with money. By this I mean, you can ask the app to track a particular purchase goal. It’s great that there’s a free tool out there to help keep us accountable.
One thing I immensely disliked about this app were some of the savings tips. A previous article on Help Me Bank was about savings tips but I tried to at least demonstrate that I had used these tips. However, the tips I disliked on this app were as follows:
“Put a timer in your shower to reduce water and power use”. I don’t like this one as it puts personal hygiene on a back burner and also implies that everyone showers in a wasteful way. I think it could actually cause more harm than good.
“Shop around for a bank account with cheaper fees”. This is wrong. Customers should be advised to try and find a free bank account, because there is one of those available for the needs of most people.
“Don’t buy books and DVDs, borrow them from your local library”. This is a wonderful way to discourage people from supporting arts and literature.
“Go on a picnic or to a free outdoor concert”. Firstly, picnics aren’t free. Tip #1 in the app is to write a grocery list and stick only to what’s on that list. What if you didn’t budget for a picnic? Or do you expect to invite a bunch of people and mooch off them because you’re the organiser? Also, where are these free outdoor concerts?
“Quit your gym membership and walk or ride your bike to work”. This just encourages unhealthy living habits. The riding your bike to work not only assumes that you in fact have a bike, but that you also live close enough to ride to work. I know people who catch a three hour train to get to work. I wonder how long it’d take them to ride a bike.
“Give up drinking coffee or alcohol for a month.” There are ways to drink coffee for cheap without giving it up. Not going to argue against alcohol.
“Buy in bulk and only go grocery shopping once a month.” This assumes that you’re not living in an apartment with a tiny fridge space. It’s absolutely presumptuous to think that people can fit a month’s worth of groceries into their fridge and freezer. Clearly the person who thought of this tip isn’t in touch with reality about how many people actually live.
“Lock up your credit card for a month and only pay for things with cash.” This only teaches people that their credit card is something negative, and not something that they can use to get free Reward points for their usual expenses. It doesn’t teach discipline, it just sweeps the problem under the carpet.
“Check out your local public transport options to save on petrol, tolls and cabs.” Again with being detached from how many people live. MoneySmart, as awesome as you are, don’t you think that most of us already travel by public transport?
My commentary might come off as harsh, but these tips seem rather disconnected from the real people of our society, and that’s precisely why Help Me Bank exists.