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Pocketbook Free Budget Planner – App Review

Rates and Fees verified correct on July 31st, 2015

Manage your money as you spend it with the Pocketbook app.

Smartphones have given us a versatile tool in the fight against spending over our budgets and getting into debt. There are now many apps to help you keep track of your spending, but none are as integrated, or as targeted to Australians, as Pocketbook.

Pocketbook links with your bank accounts, credit cards and loans and then keeps track of your spending, automatically sorting transactions into categories such as groceries, bills, loan payments, travel and more.

The app is available for iPhones and Android phones and can also be logged onto via the net, helping you get easy access to your account wherever you are, so you can identify areas of your spending which you need to address and reduce.

If you're like us and always find it hard to track your spending in real-time, Pocketbook has you covered too. You'll be able to set a 'safe spending' limit, which will actively count down as you spend throughout the day or week. If you don't know what your safe spending limit is, Pocketbook can also calculate it for you.

It's a confronting way of getting you to limit your spending as it happens now rather than afterwards, as is the case with many other budgeting apps. If you have an account but would rather it not be counted by Pocketbook, you can simply choose not to sync it. This gives you the benefit of still being able to quickly see your balance in relation to your other accounts.

You can also manually plot your transactions geographically so you know where they're occurring and the app presents you with a weekly update of your spending, income and bills so you know exactly where you stand.

If you invite a friend to use Pocketbook or donate $9, you get access to the 'Analyse' feature, which gives you a visual representation of your spending and the categories you spend on.

Another major benefit of this app is that it notifies you of incoming bills and whether or not you have enough money to cover them.

Budget planning made simple

Pocketbook is great at helping you budget each week. If you log onto your smartphone or web application you can see exactly how much you’ve spent in the past weeks, as well as how much you have left to spend for this week.

Budgeting Step 1

If you want to see exactly what you’re spending your money on you can click on the week in question and get a full breakdown of your transactions.

Budgeting Step 2

As you can see from above, I’ve withdrawn a substantial amount of spending money on the weekend, so using this information I know if I wanted to reduce the amount of money I spend each week a good place to start would be on my entertainment spending.

If you’re a visual person you can unlock the Analyse tool by simply letting a friend know about Pocketbook via email or donating $9. This tool gives you an easy way to see where you’re putting your money towards.

Budgeting Step 3

As you can see from the last 14 days I’ve indulged myself a bit in the tech department, which makes up more than half of my spending in this time. I budgeted for these purchases, but if I hadn’t I would have just identified an area where my spending could be reduced. Seeing the exact dollar amount of what you’re spending on is a sobering way to identify where you’re spending too much.

It's a confronting way of getting you to limit your spending as it happens now rather than afterwards, as is the case with many other budgeting apps. If you have an account but would rather it not be counted by Pocketbook, you can simply choose not to sync it. This gives you the benefit of still being able to quickly see your balance in relation to your other accounts.

You can also manually plot your transactions geographically so you know where they're occurring and the app presents you with a weekly update of your spending, income and bills so you know exactly where you stand.

Pocketbook currently supports the following banks:

  • Bank of Melbourne
  • Bankwest
  • ING Direct
  • ANZ
  • NAB
  • Westpac
  • CBA
  • St George
  • BankSA
  • UBank
  • Suncorp
  • Bendigo Bank
  • Citibank

How to open a Pocketbook account

  1. Download the app from Google Play or the App store.
Pocketbook Signup
  1. Add in your accounts.
Pocketbook Signup Step 3
  1. Set a safe spending budget.
  2. Watch as your expenses, income and bills are automatically imported into the app.
Pocketbook Signup Step 4

Because Pocketbook automatically scans your purchases for regularity, it can establish which transactions are bills and then help you avoid late fees by alerting you to when it's time to pay them. The fact that it's so easy to monitor your account means you can chase up erroneous charges or fees and have them refunded as they happen, not weeks later when you get your bank statement.

How secure is Pocketbook?

The obvious concern for many of you will be the security of this app, which is justified. You don't want unsavoury characters accessing your sensitive bank account details—nor do you want to give your bank details to a company which won't take your security as seriously as a bank does.

Pocketbook has a number of technological countermeasures it employs to protect your details, the first of which is the same 2048-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption used by the banks. This basically sets up a secure channel between two machines over the net.

It also uses CloudFlare, which protects the app from viruses and other malicious cyber dangers.

Pocketbook's servers are located in Sydney and are protected by a range of security countermeasures, the most notable being biometric security access (think fingerprint access and eyeball scanning). The app also uses information from the ACCC and ASIC to help identify fraud before it strikes.

Probably the most important fact to mention is that Pocketbook is a read-only service. It doesn't allow you to move money between accounts; you can only view the information provided by these accounts. It can only obtain access to your transaction history and balances, limiting the risk to you.

As mentioned above, your details are encrypted so no one can see them and if you'd like your details purged you can email Pocketbook to do so.

Marc Terrano

A passionate publisher who loves to tell a story. Learning and teaching personal finance is his main lot at finder.com.au. Talk to him to find out more about home loans.

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20 Responses to Pocketbook Free Budget Planner – App Review

  1. Default Gravatar
    Chris | May 26, 2015

    Not sure when the article was published, but pocketbook doesn’t seem to support AMEX anymore? not sure of the reason, theres a few online threads noting it. Despite the software being great, this is a massive pain personally as the bulk of day to day expenses come off my AMEX – makes the system pretty useless for me…..

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | June 3, 2015

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your comment, we’ve updated the page to reflect this change. According to Pocketbook’s statements on social media, they needed to remove American Express due to some problems they were experiencing. They are reportedly working on getting it back up.



  2. Default Gravatar
    Fergie | February 23, 2015

    Hi, I have been using Pocketbook, but I really need to be able to set up, like envelope type budgets. So I know how much of my income is allocated where & then how much is left in any given category after the bills have come out. Does Pocketbook do this?

    • Staff
      Shirley | February 24, 2015

      Hi Fergie,

      Thanks for your question.

      You can set a budget for a certain category, such as groceries, and Pocketbook will tell you how much you’ve spent so far, and how much you have left in that certain category.

      Pocketbook can also warn you when you’ve almost reached your budget.


    • Default Gravatar
      | February 24, 2015

      Hi, how do I do that exactly. Is in the upgraded version, because I can’t find the section to add budgets at all.
      I’m happy to pay for the upgrade but not if I can’t track my categories against a set budget.
      Thanks again

    • Staff
      Shirley | February 24, 2015

      Hi Fergie,

      You may want to have a look at this page from the official Pocketbook website, ‘how do i categorise transactions?’

      The Pocketbook website also provides a support centre for new users who are learning to use the app.

      Hope it helps,

  3. Default Gravatar
    Dez | January 17, 2015

    Hi..we have a joint account. Can we both use Pocketbook to access it and can it be synced between both phones? Samsung Galaxy s5


    • Staff
      Shirley | January 19, 2015

      Hi Dez,

      Thanks for your question.

      At the moment Pocketbook is looking into joint accounts, unfortunately there is no ETA yet.


  4. Default Gravatar
    David | July 8, 2014

    I m presently using QuickBooks Personal, where, each week I enter my Salary, from which I then deduct pre-determined amounts of money to transfer to other “accounts”. , like electricity, club membership, housekeeping, etc ,etc. Anything left over is simply “transferred to an “excess funds” account.
    Can Pocketbook be used in this manner, or is it more of a tool that helps you keep an eye on your spending, and alert you when you re getting close to your limit, or you ve overspent.?
    Thanks, David

    • Staff
      Shirley | July 9, 2014

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your question.

      Pocketbook is a bit different; as it automatically organises your spending into categories like clothes, groceries and fuel so you can see where money is being spent.

      It will also tell you when you’re about to exceed your budget.

      You can’t transfer funds from your accounts through Pocketbook but you can setup budgets, see your balances and view your transactions.


  5. Default Gravatar
    Kim | June 28, 2014

    Hi, I’m very interested in pocketbook but have noticed that my bank is not listed ? Does this mean the ap would not work as effectively? I don’t think I would enjoy manually updating the figures either? I also use a Mac computer & an ipad, can I have the ap working across both?
    Kind regards Kim

    • Staff
      Shirley | June 30, 2014

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately if your bank isn’t listed you’ll need to add them manually. However, Pocketbook is working to include all institutions.

      The app is available for iPad, but not for Macbook.


  6. Default Gravatar
    Cait | April 17, 2014

    Hi there, I would also like to know more information in regards to Bernard’s question.

    • Staff
      Shirley | April 17, 2014

      Hi Cait,

      Thanks for your comment.

      At the time of writing, banks currently do not have an agreement with Pocketbook.

      While the banks cannot technically consent or control to who you disclose your banks details to, users are reminded to be careful with who they choose to disclose their personal banking information to.

      You’ll need to make your own decision whether or not to trust the safety of the company and application.


  7. Default Gravatar
    Lisa | February 12, 2014

    I can’t seem to find pocket book on the App store for my mac or iPad. Is it compatible?

    • Staff
      Marc | February 13, 2014

      Hi Lisa,
      thanks for the question.

      The app is compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I’ve sent you the link so you can download it.


  8. Default Gravatar
    MARIA | February 12, 2014

    Hi Marc, does this work on windows phones? I’m a tech dinosaur with smartphones …

    • Staff
      Claude | February 12, 2014

      Hi Maria,

      Pocketbook is not currently compatible with Windows phones, but of course, you can use any other tools that are available at your disposal and compatible with the current technology that you are using.

      You may wish to consider the following apps that also work as a budget planner:
      Money Tracker (free)
      My Expenses (free)

      Let us know how you go.

  9. Default Gravatar
    bernard | February 11, 2014

    I was assume by providing your online banking login details would violate your banks terms & conditions. Do the banks consent to this?

    • Staff
      Marc | February 12, 2014

      Hi Bernard,
      thanks for the question.

      Pocketbook uses the same technology that many older accounting software packages use, in addition to programs like ANZ’s Moneymanager. If you feel that you would still rather not link your account directly to your bank account you can import the transactions manually into the app on weekly basis. This is still quicker than adding each individual transaction into the app.

      I’ve emailed you more information.


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