Top free apps to save you time and money

Managing your finances has never been easier thanks to a range of apps for your smartphone or iPad, whether it's splitting the bill, monitoring your shares or searching for a house. The pleasures of touchscreen technology even makes budgeting fun (well, almost). We've whittled down the more than 2700 finance apps listed on iTunes to the seven best of the lot.

Managing your finances has never been easier thanks to a range of apps for your smartphone or iPad, whether it's splitting the bill, monitoring your shares or searching for a house. The pleasures of touchscreen technology even makes budgeting fun (well, almost). We've whittled down the more than 2700 finance apps listed on iTunes to the seven best of the lot.

1. Meal Splitter

By iHarwood.com

Nothing spoils a good meal out with your friends than a battle over splitting the bill. An equal split seems fair to those who quaffed a number of bottles of fine wine, not so fair to those restricted to sipping water.

Well, Meal Splitter can ensure that the bonhomie is extended to the paying of the cheque. You enter the total food bill into the app's calculator and the number of people eating. Then you input the total cost of drinks and the number of drinkers. Add the percentage you want to tip and this nifty little app will serve up how much each drinker and non-drinker needs to pay. Everybody goes home h(app)y.

2. HomeBudget Lite

By Anishu

There is a bunch of budgeting apps out there but this looks the pick. It's easy to put in income and expense items, where you have the flexibility to create categories and sub-categories. You can track your performance against your budget using reporting tools, illustrated with line, bar and pie charts and schedule bills and reminders - even attach photos of receipts.

The app boasts an automatic "family sync" function, which lets you share information on income and expenses across devices so family members are all on the same page.

This is the free taste, which will only let you input so many income and expense items, which means if you want to really get organised you'll have to stump up the $5.49 for the full version.

3. CommBank Property Guide

By CBA

This fantastic app makes house hunting that much easier by giving you everything you need to know while on the go. You can do all the usual searching for properties, and you can also see the sale's history of a place. You get an estimate of how much the property is worth now. Good fun to plug in your own place.

This info is provided by RP Data. You can also see a list of recent sales in the area and read a summary of the suburb, including whether it's a buyer or a seller's market. A "get directions" button takes you to Google Maps to help you navigate. Fairfax Media's (publisher of this paper) domain.com.au app is more user friendly for house hunting (and includes rental properties) but lacks the sales data that RP Data brings to the CBA app.

4. My Mortgage Kit (free version)

By Vow Financial Group

This is a comprehensive and simple app to help you buy a home. It won't win any prizes for design but it's very easy to use and has everything you need to know, particularly if this is your first step into home ownership.

You can calculate how much you can borrow based on your income and on the terms of the loan. There's also a stamp duty calculator, including how much you'll be up for in transfer and mortgage registration fees. There are document and moving checklists for you to follow, including a handy diagram detailing the "steps to buying a home", and a glossary of technical terms.

5. Bloomberg for iPad

Bloomberg is the best of the free apps available for tracking market movements. You get price charts across a range of time periods but no financial data on individual companies. Prices are delayed by about 20 minutes in each case, although the indices are only a couple of minutes old. You also get commodity prices.

You can also avail yourself of the company's extensive news-gathering capabilities. Reports are about an hour old, but span geographies with the ability to put news from your region front and centre. Bloomberg allows you to input your actual position in a stock (number of shares and entry price) into your portfolio.

6. Valuables Vault

By IAG

Did you know that you need receipts for everything valuable in your house if you want to claim on insurance? Luckily, NRMA has done something about it with this handy little app that could end up saving you a bundle. Using your phone or iPad's camera, you take pictures of your possessions, name and describe them, enter the serial number and make and model (where applicable) and categorise them. You can also enter all the purchase details. Crucially, with all these details you don't need the the receipt in order to make a successful claim. And you have a database of all your stuff, which you can email to yourself where it will be safe and sound.

7. Currency Free

By Jump Gap Software

Whether you're online shopping, travelling or doing business with overseas customers, it pays to have an app that does your currency calculations. Nothing fancy about this app - but it's easy to use and it works. In the free version you can have five currencies on the go at once. You then select one, enter the relevant amount and it will give you simultaneous conversions in the other four currencies. You can include a transaction fee as a percentage if you want to get technical.

The exchange rates reset automatically once a day or when you press the refresh button. For the aesthetically minded, there's also an option to change the background.