Money saving apps you need this Christmas

  • With Christmas just around the corner, it’s too late to start a savings plan for the silly season, but it’s not too late to save money. It’s never too late to save money!
  • This year, Australians will spend more than $51 billion over the Christmas trading period. Online shopping in particular is expected to drive this growth.
  • We share some of the best money management apps available that will help with your festive budgeting and spending.

  • We’ll also share tips and tricks to help you master your credit cards without overspending.

Each year, the uber-organised among us will lay out a budget for Christmas expenses while the rest of us spend with wild abandon, buying lavish presents for friends and family.

All financial woes are set aside till after the festive period. But who wants to face fresh debts come the New Year?

To help you avoid overspending this Christmas, we’ve uncovered some of the best planning, tracking and savings apps to get you through the silly season without breaking the budget–again!

How much do Australians spend at Christmas?

Can you remember how much you spent at Christmas last year? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Only 57% of Australians bother with Christmas budgets, resulting in many people spending way more than they probably should.

spending

Last year, the Commonwealth Bank carried out a survey of 1,038 Australians which revealed that we overspend at Christmas to the tune of $625 million. And it’s set to be higher this year.

According to the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and market research company Roy Morgan, Australians will spend more than $51 billion over the Christmas trading period, up 2.9 per cent from the previous year. Online shopping in particular is expected to drive this growth.

Christmas spending in Australia
ARA and Roy Morgan release pre-Christmas predictions

Budgeting & tracking apps

It’s easy to overspend at Christmas, especially in this age of all-too-easy EFTPOS and Apple Pay transactions. 

But, we get it. Christmas is the one time of the year we tend to spoil ourselves and others a little. We even spend more on our houses. 

Nevertheless, being mindful of your budget and spending is more important than ever if you don’t want to get into debt.

My reaction when my husband asks where all the money went

Goodbudget

Remember the days when your Nanna used to have an old-school budgeting system?

Goodbudget works on the same method, where your monthly spend is divided into virtual envelopes for each category.

Through this app, you can set budget limits for each envelope and track spending as you go. For Christmas, it’s a good idea to divide expenditure between gifts, food and essentials.

Once there are envelopes allocated to each budget, you can break them down further within the app.

And if you’re especially good at budgeting you can put the money left over at the end of the month into another envelope for savings. The free version of this app allows you to share your budget with another device, which makes it great for couples trying to rein in their spending. A paid version offers unlimited envelopes and accounts over five devices.

You can download it on Google Play and iTunes.

Track My Spend


Developed by ASIC’s MoneySmart, TrackMySPEND is a simple but effective budgeting app that does what it says on the tin–keeps track of your spending.

This free app allows you to record your weekly expenditure divided up into a few different categories. You can record small expenses like coffee and lunches and set a spending limit. A limit per week would work well in the run-up to Christmas.

You’re also able to categorise purchases and set reminders by phone. What you can’t do, however, is link the app to your bank accounts, so all your spending needs to be entered manually. Still, it’s a good app for those who are new to budgeting using their smartphone.

You can download it on Google Play and iTunes. 

Pocketbook easy budget planner


Compatible with all Australian banks and used by more than 400,000 Australians, Pocketbook is a free money management and expenses tracker.

After connecting with your bank account, the app automatically synchronises data from your accounts on a daily basis and intelligently categorises spending so you can see in graph form exactly where you’re spending the most.


It’s an easy-to-use app with a simple interface, and offers the option for notifications to your phone when you’re reaching the bottom of your budget.

When you’ve been using it for a while and can see the breakdown of where your money goes, you can set a monthly allowance for each spending category.

If you keep using this popular app through the year, you’ll be in much better financial shape for Christmas 2019 too.

Christmas Gift Budget planner

on a budget gif

Unlike a puppy, this one’s just for Christmas. This free app is a great way to help you plan your spending and makes sure you don’t unintentionally omit friends or family from the coveted Christmas list.

Christmas Gift Budget allows you to add people one-by-one or make groups. Keep track of what you’ve spent and mark presents as bought, as and when you do. Your list can be password-protected to ensure your Christmas list stays secret.

Although this app is good for making note of all those you’d like to buy a present for, keep in mind you don’t really need to buy for all your family and friends. Be tough and only buy for kids in the family and your partner, so you have a good chance of staying within budget.

Shopping apps

buying gifts

Doing your Christmas shopping is easier than ever before in this wonderful world of smartphones.

No need to pay extortionate parking fees at the shopping centre. Gone is the need to fight through the seasonal rush to BUY ALL THE THINGS.

You can start shopping right now using one of these handy shopping apps designed to help make Christmas shopping merrier than ever.

Christmas Gift List

santa's coming

A relatively simple app, Christmas Gift List is a good one for those who like an easy life. Available only on Android, this app keeps track of your Christmas present list, what you’d like to buy for each person, what you’ve bought and how much it cost. There are also reminders to ensure your pressies are wrapped.

To help with spending, enter the amount you’d ideally like to spend per person and edit your list as you go.

You can send the list to Evernote or your email, but can only edit it within the app.

Once Christmas has been and gone and all your gifts have been delivered, come January 1st your lists are automatically archived clearing the way for next Christmas.

Santa’s Bag

There’s no secret about this Santa sack. Made for iOS, this Christmas shopping app works in a similar way to Christmas Gift List but offers a few more bells and whistles.

While it does have a Christmassy feel, the interface isn’t quite as gaudy as some other apps, which will suit those who prefer a minimalistic look.

Tech-wise, Santa’s Bag combines a shopping list, a budget tracker and a Christmas countdown ticker.

Alongside each recipient listed, you can enter the budget, how much is spent and how much you’ve saved. There is also the ability to link to the online shop with details of each gift.

If you’re responsible for buying a group present, there’s a section to add group split lists. You can also link to other people’s wishlists.

Giftster

Gifster christmas spending

If you just LOVE Christmas and buying (and spending), Giftster is the app for you. It’s perfect for making lists for your lists. You can organise gift lists for your family, friends, groups or offices. You can make a list of your own, choosing presents yourself for recipients, or get them to join Giftster and link to them to see their ideal gift list.

Giftster is like a social networking site for Christmas. It removes all the guesswork from trying to figure out what friends and family really want, and instead allows you to browse their wishlist, buy a present with one click and mark it off their list as bought. There’s also a Secret Santa feature so they need never know who bought them the present.

The bonus with Santa’s Bag is that other people can browse your list and buy you something you really want, which means everyone gets something they love.

You can download it on Google Play and iTunes.

Savings apps

money in the bank

Now you’ve got your budget and gift lists sorted, read on to discover yet more ways we can help you save money on your Christmas shopping. From coupon deals to smarter shopping, there are more ways than one to minimise overspending this festive season.

Honey

trolley run

There are two types of people when it comes to bargain shopping–those who know how to take advantage of coupon deals and those who don’t. If you have a complete lack of coupon awareness, prepare to be dazzled … just in time for Christmas.

Honey is a free browser extension for Chrome that automatically finds and applies coupon codes when you check out, for over 30,000 online shopping sites.

Once installed, an ‘h’ button will appear beside your browser bar. When you’re shopping online, click on the ‘h’ to see if there are any coupon deals that can be applied to your purchase.

If there are, Honey will automatically deduct the coupon at checkout. Who doesn’t love an extension that does all the hard work for you?

Geek

Geek christmas spending

If you plan to do most of your Christmas shopping online, Geek might save you bundles of money this season. 

By going directly to manufacturers, Geek secures excellent deals on trending products, often offering 50-80% off store prices.

Geek is especially good if you’re looking for tech gear like headphones, speakers and watches. Or home décor and beauty products. To make a wishlist, enter what type of products you’re seeking to buy and the app will generate a feed of tempting products for you to browse.

You can download it on Google Play and iTunes.

Woolworths app

minion shopping

Christmas shopping isn’t only about buying gifts for people. You need to eat, too!

And if you’re like most people, Christmas is the one time of the year you splurge on the weekly shop. To make the most of the Woolies app, you could use it in conjunction with the Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card, which has a rewards program attached.

Buy gifts for friends and family via the app or order your Christmas food and drink shopping online and avoid the queues altogether.

With a great points per dollar plan on purchases, you can accumulate points quickly with this card. Every four months, your points are automatically converted to shopping cards–4,000 Credit Card points gives you a $20 shopping card–and you also get 10% off one Woolworths shop on a selected day each month.

You can download it on Google Play.

Credit card hacks for Christmas

credit card

We couldn’t possibly release you into the wilds of Christmas shopping without sharing a few tips and tricks on how to get the best from your credit cards this Christmas. Despite what some people might say, using a credit card for Christmas shopping is clever.

  • Credit card debt is never something you want to have, but even more so at Christmas time. In the spirit of Christmas, many of the major banks offer some strong balance transfer deals around this time. This can mean that you can pocket the money you would have been spending on your interest repayments at this time of year, or use it to help out with expenses. 
  • Unlock sign-up bonus spend requirements with your Christmas shopping. If you are planning travel in the new year, capitalise on the spend you are already making and get a points booster. This time of year is ripe for lucrative sign-up bonus offers. Currently 100-120k offers are in play, with the spend requirements ranging from $1500 - $7500 within the first three months. 
  • If you have no problem paying off your card every month–even after Christmas–a rewards credit card is well worth considering at this time of year. You can get something back every time you spend with it, in the form of points, air miles or cold hard cash. 

100,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points

American Express Explorer® Credit Card
5 reviews

Get 100,000 points when you apply online by 7 January 2019, are approved and spend $1,500 in the first 3 months.

Receive a $400 Travel Credit each year towards any flights, hotels and car hire when you book online with this card.

Smartphone Screen Insurance for up to $500 for screen repairs when you pay for your phone or contract with this card.

Earn up to 2 pts per $1 spent on eligible purchases with the Membership Rewards Gateway program.

0% p.a. for 12 months for balance transfers and a one-off credit plan establishment fee of 1%.

Book two consecutive nights’ stay and enjoy a hotel credit up to US$75 and a room upgrade, (when available) at properties part of The Hotel Collection.

Enjoy two complimentary entries per year to the American Express Lounges at Sydney or Melbourne International Airports. (Conditions Apply)

Travel with peace of mind with the complimentary travel insurances.

Entry into The American Express Lounge is governed by the full Terms and Conditions available at amex.com.au/airportlounge.

This credit card offer is subject to change and may not be directly related to the content of this article.

The final word by Goldie Spendwell

However you choose to shop this Christmas, make sure you have a good one!