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?

money management appsWhy 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.

Money Hub

Pros

  • Combines all your financial interests in one place, from savings to investments
  • Provides a way to analyse spending
  • Enables spending goals to be set
  • Has a “find an advisor” option to connect you to professional advice if required

Cons

  • It’s not free – the app costs £0.99 per month

Money Dashboard

Pros

  • It’s free
  • Provides analysis of incomings and outgoings so that you can see where you’re spending your cash
  • Has an inbuilt budget planner which is tied into the spending of the month before
  • You can centralise all current accounts, savings and credit cards into the app

Cons

  • The app supports 59 providers – this includes most high street banks so should be sufficient for the majority of people but it’s worth checking your chosen providers are included

Squirrel

Pros

  • 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)

Cons

  • 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
  • MySupermarket – if you want to make sure you’re saving as much as possible when it comes to groceries, MySupermarket will show you where your cheapest options are to buy

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