Saving Money Just Got A Whole Lot Easier Thanks To Free2Spend

Image: iStock

Though I have been called a filthy millenial, I'm not the biggest avocado on toast fan, so I can't blame fruit on my terrible savings plan. I need all the help I can get when it comes to putting money away - and now, Ubank has an app that can do just that.

Spending money has changed with the explosion of tap and pay systems and the multiple ways to buy things online, but saving money hasn't really caught up. It's easy to tap, go and then regretfully look at your bank account a week later.

But it's hard to get a feel for how much money is sitting in your account at any one time and how much you can put away to save for things in your future. I know I struggle with any sort of considered saving plan - whatever is left over in my account at the end of the month usually gets 'saved' (or blown in one weekend) and that usually constitutes a fiver and a bag of chips.

UBank, the digital only banking and home loans arm of NAB, are trying to change the way you save.

UBank's redesigned Free2Spend app is aimed at making saving a whole lot easier. UBank’s Digital Product Manager Pete O’Malley tells me the idea behind the relaunched iOS app is to distill the experience of saving down to "one number". It's a philosophy that fitness apps have already used to great advantage, offering users a simple readout for how many steps they need to take to reach a daily goal but not something that has been seen in Australia before.

Image: Ubank

Once you plug in a savings goal, your income and your expenses, the app spits out your daily 'Free2Spend' number - a single figure that lets you know how much money you've got to blow each day. By tying the app to your Ubank account, you can get 'live' updates about how much money you've got left to spend each day. While demoing the app O'Malley bought a couple of coffees, tapped to pay and then showed me how his Free2Spend had decreased.

The app is aimed at 'struggling savers', those of us (because I am most certainly one) who hardly ever hit their savings goals because 'saving' isn't much more than an afterthought. The UBank team tinkered with the idea of round-up transactions, like you see in apps such as Acorn, but ultimately settled on the idea that the "one number" would be able to change behaviour and "get savings out of the way upfront".

When you see a single number presented to you, it makes you stop and think "can I grab that coffee today?", "should I menulog for dinner yet again?"

Image: Ubank

A lot of the time, the answer to those questions probably no - so Free2Spend can definitely make you feel like a terrible person when you see that balance head into the negative.

O'Malley also described the process of developing the app and it's lengthy beta process, where family and friends and UBank users provided feedback on the new banking experience and how it could be bettered. It's that crowd-sourced feedback that no doubt contributes to how streamlined the app is. There's no real fluff or nonsense to dig through - you open up the app and the first thing you see is exactly how much money you have to spend.

Unfortunately, this isn't an all-purpose app for any banker. You need to already have an account with UBank to use it. If that's you, you can download UBank's app today. Currently, it's only available on UBank's iOS banking app, with plans to bring it to Apple Watch and across to Android in the near-future.

So can it really help you save? I'll have to leave my full review impressions for a full launch on Android.


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