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The best money apps for your wallet

How fintech can transform the way you bank, budget and buy

Kate Hughes@hughesthehack
Wednesday 15 January 2020 12:21
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Take control of your finances on your phone
Take control of your finances on your phone

There really is an app for everything. They have transformed how we cook, how we take photos, how we chat.

So, of course, there’s also a huge range of apps designed to help people manage their finances. All the main online banks in the UK now offer banking apps and there are also several challenger banks that have some genuinely innovative money apps on offer.

Best of all, since new Open Banking rules came into force, your bank has to share data with third parties such as banking and budgeting apps – as long as you ask them and as long as they are secure.

So what are the money apps that can genuinely change how you manage your money for the better? Here are a few of the top tech offerings that will change how you bank for the better.

The best money apps for budgeting

Helping customers budget as they shop and manage their spending was an early goal for challenger banks and online banks, so there are lots of different apps for this.

Many can work directly with your bank so you can see exactly where you are spending your money each month without having to identify each outgoing.

It’s worth spending some time finding the app that best suits you. Choices include the free-to-use Money Dashboard, which lets you view all current and savings accounts, plus credit cards, in one place.

That’s not the only free budgeting app, though. Wally is entirely free and collates your spending data to help you keep track – it does say it plans to charge for a premium version in the future.

You can see income and outgoings, analyse your expenses and set a budget planner based on previous spending.

And Yolt gives you access to your different bank accounts in one place, as well as offering tips on managing your money more effectively.

If you need a bit more support, there are some paid-for options available but you need to be confident it will be suitable for you before investing. The budgeting app Squirrel helps you separate bill money from spending money, allowing you to manage your money throughout the month and make it to payday with no missed payments.

You tell it your monthly expenses and what you want to save each month and it releases your spending and bill money as required throughout the month.

Although there is a free trial, after that there’s a monthly subscription of £9.99.

The best money apps for saving

Once your budget is under control it’s time to think about making some savings. Maybe you are saving towards a particular goal or maybe you simply want the security that comes with having a financial cushion.

Again, there are a lot of apps out there that can help you save without feeling the pinch. One example is Chip. It uses the data in your bank account to calculate how much money you can afford to save and then it automatically moves that money for you.

It’s useful because it’s not just shifting pennies around – the average amount it moves into savings is £20 – but it only does so when you can afford to.

However, it’s important to know that it is not a savings account and so you don’t get the protection of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) on your savings.

If you like your AI with a bit more sass, Cleo might be the right savings app for you. The interface is a chatbot that runs via Facebook messenger and is advertised as an “AI friend who looks after your money”.

The app looks at your spending habits and provides feedback – sometimes in the form of GIFs.

It helps you budget and set aside cash and you can ask Cleo questions about how much you have left to spend or how your budget is looking by simply chatting to it via Facebook.

For people who enjoy a more creative way of saving, Oval Money adds some fun. It’s a money management app that provides a lot of the analysis and automatic saving that other money apps do – but it has an additional feature.

You can instruct it to save money for you whenever you post on Facebook, for example, making it a sort of savings swear jar for social media.

The money you save is not covered by the FSCS but, like other money apps, the cash is ring-fenced by the firm.

Apps that help you invest

Saving money is good and having an easily accessed emergency fund is vital. But once that is in place you might want to start investing some of your cash and, yet again, there’s an app for that.

Every time you spend money, the Moneybox app rounds up your purchases to the nearest pound and invests that money into a stocks and shares ISA. For example, if you spend 80p on a can of coke, it takes £1 out of your account and siphons the spare 20p off into your ISA.

The idea is that you invest without really noticing but you can also add lump sums yourself. You can arrange to pay it into an ISA in your name or even your child’s junior ISA. You also choose your own level of risk, selecting between cautious, balanced or adventurous.

And with Moneybox, your investments are covered by the government’s FSCS up to a limit of £85,000, if a product provider or Moneybox is declared bankrupt. It won’t cover you for a drop in the value of your savings.

It’s free for three months but then there’s a £1 a month fee, as well as fees of 0.45 per cent of the value of your investments each year.

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