Here is my pick of apps and other #FinTech (Financial Technology) products that help you budget and save if you live in the UK.
My interest here is people who are short of money. It doesn’t include apps getting you to invest in the stock market.
But these budgeting apps will also help anyone who doesn’t have debt problems but wants to save more, for a house deposit, a big holiday or to improve their pension.
Money management apps
Some people love using spreadsheets to track the balance on their account and how that will change when the rent is paid on Monday and the council tax and water bills next week. Other people just check their bank balance every day on their mobile.
If what you are doing works for you, that’s great!
But if you feel you aren’t in control of where your money goes and how much is left for you to spend, the aim of the apps here is to automate all that – less work for you and always up-to-date.
These apps work by taking the numbers from your bank account automatically and categorising the expenses so you can see what you are spending on food, petrol, entertaining etc.
Sometimes the way an app categorises an expense is wrong – your groceries bill at Iceland is identified as “holiday spending” for example! But you can correct this and they then get it right in future.
If you only use one bank account, some banks already provide this sort of information. Starling has the best banking app, and now pays a decent rate of interest on its current account.
If you use several accounts than try the Emma app.
Do you still want all your direct debits and standing orders? What about regular payments from your credit card? Over time it’s easy to let some slip through unnoticed – insurance for a washing machine you have replaced, a subscription you forgot to cancel after the trial period etc. The Emma app can identify all of these so you know which to cancel.
It can also link together all your accounts (well most of them – there is a full list here) and set budgets. It’s good at allocating your transactions to categories automatically, so it’s easy to use. If it gets one wrong, you can over-ride it and it will remember that for future transactions.
Helping you to spend less
Find a free cash machine
The Link ATM locator app will show you your nearest cash machine and you can tell it to only show free ones too. Useful if you are often on the move.
The Petrolprices.com app lets you have 20 searches for local petrol prices free each month. But remember the rule of thumb – don’t travel more than two extra miles to save 1p per litre, or it may cost you more then you save!
All those loyalty cards
The Stocard app keeps a record of all your loyalty cards so you don’t have to carry them around with you. It works well for most shops but there are a few where there are problems – Sainsbury’s self-checkout and Boots, many people find. Some people love it, others have given up because of this.
Cashback and Coupons Codes
The IK’s two biggest cashback sites are Quidco and TopCashback. Which? explains how to use these sites. My rule is never buy something only because of the cashback, because it’s not 100% reliable that you will get it. See this as a nice little bonus that may arrive, not a real proce reduction.
Honey is an app that lives inside your browser, automatically looking for coupon codes when you are shopping and applying the best automatically
There is a full review of how they work here: two apps that help you save money without realising it. If you find it impossible to save even small amounts, try one of these!
LOQBOX helps your credit score if you can save the same amount every month for a year.
I’ve looked at it in detail here: How LOQBOX can improve your credit record while you save.
Not all apps are a good idea!
There are dozens of apps that are mostly trying to get you to spend more money by offering a couple of percent off or loyalty points. But are you already spending more than you would like online? See Five ways to cut back on online spending for some helpful ideas.