A budget app to get an insight into your expenses: ‘It’s more than looking at that app every now and then’ | Money

If prices rise, it’s good to keep an eye on your expenses before you know it, you have a lot of month left when your money is out. This can be done with paper and pencil or with a spreadsheet, but there are also dozens of budget apps available. How to choose the right household book?

Whether you have a notebook or use a beautifully designed app, the goal is the same, says Gabriella Bettonville of the National Institute for Budget Information (Nibud). “If you want an overview of your consumption pattern, keep track of what you use – groceries, coffee shop, snacks – and do it for at least a few months. You can see this in your own bank account, but you can also keep it with a paper diary or via notes on your phone. Or via an app. And the more actively you are involved in it, the more it takes hold. ”


Because the app categorizes everything, you immediately see if you have spent your money on groceries, the gas station or restaurants

Daan van Klinken, from the money management app Flow

An app recognizes your transaction data

Digital household books have only been increasing since 2018. Due to a European directive from that year, payment services licensed by De Nederlandsche Bank can gain access to Dutch consumers’ payment accounts, provided they give specific permission to do so. The Money Wise platform, an initiative from the Ministry of Finance, now has an overview of sixteen free and paid apps and websites, and new ones are constantly being added.

Flow Your Money is a relatively new player, the startup has recently raised several million to further develop the money management app Flow. Founder and co-owner Daan van Klinken explains how such apps work. “You attach a digital household book to your bank, which scans your transaction data. Apps have become really good at recognizing payment descriptions or iban numbers from, for example, the supermarket where you always shop. Because the app categorizes everything, you immediately see if you have spent your money on groceries, the gas station or restaurants. ”


Budgeting and planning with your money is obviously more than looking at that app every now and then

Gabriella Bettonville from the National Institute for Budget Education (Nibud)

Get started with the consumption pattern yourself

The differences between apps are mainly under the hood, says Van Klinken. “There are apps that, for example, keep track of which subscriptions you have, and which they can also keep track of for you. And there are apps that you can save up with or that you can invest in automatically. ”

Knowing what comes in and what goes out is the foundation of your financial fitness, says Christian Meijer, head of the government platform Money Wise. “Apps and tools help tremendously with this. You then need to work on it yourself to improve your consumption pattern. Less to the hairdresser, to another supermarket, or cancel the subscription to that streaming service. ” The downfall is that people download an app, let the app do the work and then think they are doing a good job, Bettonville adds. “But budgeting and planning with your money is obviously more than looking at that app every now and then.”

Van Klinken is actually looking in that direction for its own app. ,, With Flow we look to the future. You can open accounts with one or more banks and then link them to Flow. You can then set what is to be distributed when your salary comes in, for example for savings, groceries, travel or shopping. That way, you can see how much you can still spend that month. ”

What about costs and privacy?

Budget apps are usually free, especially if they are from an existing bank, such as Grip from ABN-Amro or Simpel from ING. Apps like Simpel Huishoudboekje, Het Huishoudboekje, Spendee, MoneyWiz, Mijn Geldzaken and Flow have a free version, but they make money on one or more paid variants that offer the user more service.

But beware: If an app is really completely free, then you as the user are the revenue model, says Van Klinken. “Such an app has an overview of your bank account and your transactions. It’s interesting data that they can then sell. So also pay close attention to the privacy conditions. ”

To check whether a provider is gullible, the Consumer Association recommends checking it with De Nederlandsche Bank’s public register. Third parties offering account information services are required to request access to the payment account again after 90 days. Put it on your own agenda as a reminder to see if the provider complies with it properly.

Apps can give you suggestions on how to live cheaper. With free tools, this can also be a revenue model, sees Christian Meijer from Money Wise. “Then, for example, they look at your energy bill and offer you a cheaper alternative from another energy company. A pitfall may be that you try to improve your finances, but then fall for the wrong offer. ”

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