We are frequently being told today that the best way to improve budgeting and money management is to get an app for that. From apps that squirrel away tiny savings from your daily spend, to those that identify the cheapest place to buy your groceries from, there’s no doubt that technology should, in theory, be designed to make life easier. But do budgeting and banking apps really work or are they just one more thing to think about?
Why would you have a budgeting or banking app?
Saving time and saving money are the two main motivations for those who download financial apps to their phones. Some of the apps on the market really do help people to achieve miraculous financial progress. Others may just end up being a costly mistake. If you want to make sure that you’re investing in the right type of app then it’s worth knowing what to avoid:
A lack of support – if you have an issue with your app then it may be important to have access to a customer services team.
A cost to buy – it’s often difficult to know whether you really need an app, and whether it’s the right app for you, until you’ve used it for some time. Which is why it’s frustrating that some apps charge up front.
A lack of functionality – particularly if you’re paying for your banking or budgeting app, it’s important to make sure that it has the functionality that you’re looking for from it. For example, does the app integrate with the banks where you hold your accounts, how easy is it to import transactions and can you add transactions via an iWatch or mobile while on the move?
Poor ease of use – there is little point to an app if you’re limited in terms of what you can do with it because you don’t really understand how it works. Any app that requires a degree in computer science to master the basic functions is going to be a bad investment. Those that are simple and clear to use are the ideal choice.
Which apps are worth investing in?
Although it will be a matter of personal preference, to a certain extent, with respect to the apps that you enjoy the most, there are some which are widely viewed as being a good investment.
If you’re bad at spending all your salary in one go, this app will help. It releases money into your main account in small bursts so that it’s impossible to break the bank on payday
Let Squirrel know when your bills are due and it will make sure there is money in your account to pay them at the right time
Your income is paid into your account in weekly instalments so it’s impossible to over spend (this can be overridden in emergencies)
It costs £3.99 a month
You need to have your salary paid into a separate account – it’s run by Barclays so is totally legitimate but this could be an issue for some people
Other helpful banking and budgeting apps
Vouchercloud – helps you to find the best deals and discounts close to you based on your current location
Stocard – a digital wallet for all your loyalty cards so that you don’t have to miss out on the opportunity for discounts. You’ll have a barcode for the shop assistant to scan in the store instead of the card itself
Quidco – earn cashback on purchases with this app – all you need to do is snap and upload your receipt when you’re shopping
Latestdeals – if you want to make sure you’re saving as much as possible when it comes to groceries, Latestdeals will show you where your cheapest options are to buy
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley