Victoria accountant’s app helps users to build savings

Fed up with credit-card mentality and rising personal-debt levels, a Victoria chartered accountant has come up with a solution to saving that anyone can hold in their hand.

Anyone with an Android cellphone, at least.

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Ryan Park, who works as an auditor for the province, has developed an app for Android phones that lets people set savings goals, measure their progress and create reminders to sock money away.

The app, called Saving Made Simple, is designed to motivate people to save money and avoid using credit cards and lines of credit for goal purchases like vacations, big-ticket items and even bills like property taxes. “Seeing what you have to save right in front of you is a great motivator,” said Park.

The app allows anyone looking to save money to set multiple goals and targets, set a deadline to reach those targets and split those goals into regular payment amounts — daily, weekly, monthly or whatever the user chooses. It offers customizable notifications to remind users to make payments or set money aside and bar graphs to display progress.

But it doesn’t do all the work. The app doesn’t make the transfer of money into a savings account or a bill-paying account for the user.

“Based on user feedback, some people are wary of linking to their bank accounts,” said Park.

Instead, for users who have auto-debit set up with their banks, the app will continue to track recurring payments that continue as long as the user likes.

“I wanted to create an app to be as simple as possible,” Park said, noting he’s been dismayed by the amount debt being carried and the general lack of financial education people seem to have. “A lot of people don’t know how to save.”

Park, 31, has developed this app as a hobby and offers it free. “I just want to help people,” Park said, adding it is ad-supported, so he does get a “couple of bucks here and there.”

He has been tinkering with software as a hobby since his first computer as an eight-year-old. But this first app released to the world has been a bit of a hit.

It is rated highly — 4.8 stars out of five through 181 reviews — and has been downloaded 20,000 times since launch in November.

“I was quite surprised since it’s just spread by word of mouth,” Park said. He thinks it could be making a difference in getting people past using credit cards to make big purchases. “That’s how I came across this. I started a cash budget and started thinking about how to simplify that for myself,” he said. “I no longer live with a credit-card mentality because of this.”

> The app is available for free at Google's Play Store. Click here for the link.

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