22seven, Old Mutual’s popular personal finance app has really made great progress over the past few years. Since its initial release, the app now features improvements such as better budget management, goal tracking and even an investment tracking option. This review looks at how it can transform you from a payday spender into a daily budget beater.
For those unfamiliar with the app, 22seven is a free app that integrates into your financial accounts into a simple and easy-to-follow layout. Some may fear this as a way for the company to hack into your account. However, most banks now are comfortable with the security of Yodlee (the world’s biggest financial services aggregator running the app). They are even allowing access to customers’ data ‒ with Nedbank and Investec even using the service now.
Starting this app can be daunting to some, so here was my quick take on it:
- Once you have downloaded the app, it will ask you to create an account and link your various bank accounts. Seeing as the app isn’t directly part of your bank(s), it will request to access at a specified time of the day (I set mine for the mornings, and luckily you can’t set it to be sent at night).
- An SMS will then be sent to your phone stating that 22seven logged onto your account. Think of those notifications when you make a payment. Luckily, however, it is not stealing your money but simply viewing it.
- Some syncing takes place to allow for your income and expenses to show on the app.
- Once this is complete though you are good to go.
The user interface of this app does a great job, thanks to its speedometer-like images, of tracking your daily and monthly spending habits. Initially, this can be seen as something negative, but once your daily habits of spending wisely come into fruition the app this area is actually quite a rewarding experience. The UI consists of five colours to easily help differentiate your spending. Blue for daily expenses, orange for fixed expenses, purple for investments and green for income. This lets you quickly see if your money will make it to the end of the month or not. You do need to spend a few minutes setting up your categories but the app is smart enough to understand most of where your money is going.
There’s also a transactions tab (shown above, yes, you can log in via the site too).
The transactions are all your funds moving in and out of your accounts. Filters can be applied, such as:
- Spending Group (day-to-day, exceptions, income, etc.)
This becomes especially useful as viewing these transactions via my banking app can be quite a chore. And seeing as it updates daily, you don’t have to wait too long to see what is going on.
Where most people would have a budget spreadsheet that has to be constantly updated whenever you buy something, 22seven automatically updates categories such as fuel, eating out and groceries. This saves a lot of time, especially when you have a few heavy partying nights and “forget” the next day where all your money has gone. It doesn’t auto-categorise every expense, so every few days it will send a notification asking you what you bought. It will then remember this category sorting for future purchases.
Many of the categories are quite straightforward and the pre-built ones should you going until you’ve got to grips with how the app works.
When this feature was first introduced it seemed almost too good to be true. For someone who doesn’t know anything about investing either, this app seemed to tick every box and more so. It gives you options such as whether you want to be aggressive with your investments or play it safe.
However, there is one small catch – you have to invest with Old Mutual.
Here is a link to their performance sheet in case you were wondering. Some may really enjoy Old Mutual and how they operate, however, if you are new to investing then you might not know of better options out there. It is still a very handy feature nonetheless and seen as its incorporated directly into the app it makes the whole personal finance management that much easier.
Here is the part that sets it apart from the rest. Most apps can track your budget, but this process is manual and quite often very time consuming if not managed correctly. Then there are your banking apps that simply display your current balance, account withdrawals and other account management.
22seven combines these two into one easy-to-use budgeting service.
Simply state how much you are willing to spend on each category and the app will notify if you are close this limit or over it. It also gives you a suggested amount if you are unsure based on your previous spending habits. Your previous spending habits also provide a prediction or forecast of how much you will be spending this month. This coupled with your budget allows even someone will no financial education a simple way of knowing if they make it to the end of the month.
There are plenty of other app-based budget tracking and expense tracking apps out there. Apps like Spendee for Android or Wally for iOS do a great job at keeping track of your expenses and savings. Their easy-to-use interface makes also them a great gateway into tracking personal finance if you are new to the idea. However, some might still prefer using a standard Excel spreadsheet to manage their finances. The main reason for this could be that it forces you to note how much you are spending (or saving). A bit like writing out a to-do list compared to typing it within an app. This might be the only downside to the app in that you can still forget to update or respond to its notifications. That and that it is only for South Africa.
In the end, if you are looking for a robust personal finance tracking app – 22seven is the way to go. Thanks to its convenient reminders and its new ‘Spent’ and ‘What’s Left’ tabs within the budget have made this a Finugget favourite.
Images via 22seven.com