The Best UK Budgeting Apps – Help To Manage Your Money

 

 

 

 

Need a better way to keep your money under control? Not everyone likes using spreadsheets, and with the Fintech explosion that has happened in recent years, the good news is you no longer have to!

Here’s my roundup of the best UK budget apps and tips for better budgeting to help guide you through the cost of living crisis.

Are Budget Apps Free?

Most budgeting apps will offer a free version with limited features. The free versions are generally good for people who want to get a taste of what the app has to offer before committing to a paid subscription. In my experience using them though, I’ve found many of the free versions to be completely adequate for budgeting purposes. It depends on what you need though, so it’s worth trying out the free features first, and only upgrading when you need to (we’re trying to save money right!).

Are Budgeting Apps Safe?

They’re generally read-only, so they can’t access your finances directly. That means they’re designed to only read what’s going on in your account. They are  starting  to get more sophisticated though and can allow you to make money transfers  through them, so security is important. Generally, they’re safe to use and boast bank-grade security. But for your own piece of mind, check before you sign up, and ensure you have good, strong passwords. You also have to continue to allow connection every 90 days, so if you stop using the app, at least you know the connection will be lost after that time.

The following apps are available in the UK, so if you’re outside of the UK, you may want to check if they are available to you.

Here are a few of my suggestions of the best UK budget apps:

List of the Best UK Budget Apps

1. Emma

The Emma app works by collating your expenditure and gives you a breakdown of how much you’re spending. It also tells you what your spending is like compared to others in your age group, which can be a real eye-opener! It told me I was overspending on Amazon which really made me stop and think about what I was spending my money on.

Is there a free version?

Yes. You can download the app for free and get started with it straight away. Just connect your bank account and it will give you information on your spending and gives you access to features such as tracking your bills, setting a budget and more. Personally, I find the free version adequate for what I need it for, particularly the subscriptions tracker. It helps me to see what I still have to pay out for in the month so I can plan accordingly.

How much does it cost?

There are 3 paid-for tiers available: “plus”, “pro” and “ultimate”. Plus is £4.99 a month, Pro is £9.99 a month and Ultimate is £14.99 a month. When you download the app, click on “upgrade” at the bottom and then “compare” in the top right hand corner. This will go onto a table that will show you how each of the tiers stack up. If you’re looking for a business version, only the ultimate tier will allow this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The plus version gives you access to cashback deals, the pro version helps you to accurately calculate your net worth, and the ultimate version gives you access to “spaces” which allow you to manage all of your accounts in one place.

Pros

  • Colourful app which looks great – definitely encourages me to look at it regularly
  • The app helps me to see how much “committed” spending I have left for the month so I can see how much I have left to play with
  • Subscriptions are laid out so I can see what I have left to pay for and what I could potentially cancel
  • It can tell me where I’m spending my month by splitting them into types such as “bills”, “transport” and “eating out” etc
  • you can use Emma to transfer and request  money as well as track expenses with friends and family
  • There are handy “how-to” guides to help you make the most of the app

Cons

  • The dashboard feels crammed and cluttered in my opinion, making it overwhelming when you first go into the app, so you will need to spend some time learning how to use it
  • Only the paid-for versions offer things like cashback, so if you’re going to pay for it just for that, it’s work checking that the cashback you gain is worth the monthly cost (be prepared to ditch it if it’s not)

2. Snoop

Snoop is a really cute app! Describing itself as RobinSnoop, the app aims to help you save money by informing you where you can make cuts and savings. It’s another free app, and is really easy to set up and use, allowing you to connect bank accounts and credit cards. They make money through affiliate income via. suggestions they make to switch your services, and there is a monthly subscription for more advanced features.

Is there a free version?

Yes, and I found this to be adequate for my budgeting needs! There’s no harm in giving it a try to decide if you like it or not.

How much does it cost?

You can upgrade to the Snoop Plus service for £3.99 per month or £31.99 per year. For this, you can customise your budget, creating unlimited spending categories, add manual accounts, and you have the ability to create spending and refund alerts.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Free to download and get started with
  • Handy money saving features to stop unused subscriptions etc

Cons

  • As with all the apps, it takes time to learn how to use it to its fullest advantages
  • It might not link to your bank account if it’s not covered on their free service
  • Suggestions made to switch might not be appropriate for you, don’t forget to check the small print before you switch!

3.Monzo

Monzo is a challenger bank that comes with a distinctive coral coloured bank card and of course an app to install on your phone. They both enable you to organise your money into “pots” or “spaces” which are perfect for money pie budgeting. All your transactions can be categorised and it gives you an insight into your spending patterns.

Is there a free version?

Yes there is. The basic budgeting features are free. Definitely worth trying it, but you will need to open a bank account with them (which is free).

How much does it cost?

Monzo Plus is £5 a month. For  this you can add other accounts from different banks to your monzo account. You can customise your transactions and gain some interest on your savings.

Monzo Premium is £15 a month. For this you get mobile phone insurance, worldwide family travel insurance, discount on airport lounges, higher interest on your savings and the ability to be able to see other accounts, not just your monzo ones. 

Pros

  • Easy to use, intuitive
  • Instant alerts when money is spent from the account

Cons

  • Need to open up a bank account with them to access the basic budgeting features. 

4. The Money Dashboard

This app is great for people who use more than one bank account. Because it can connect to all of your accounts (including credit cards and some investment accounts), you get an overview of all your money in one place where you can see what’s going in and what’s coming out. It also categorises your spending, and reviews those spending habits over 6 months.

If this is something you think may help you stay on track with your money, it’s definitely worth trying. It uses read-only software, so it can’t move any of your money.

Is there a free version?

Yes, this app is free to use.

How much does it cost?

Nothing, it’s free to use! Money Dashboard makes money by offering products and services that it may receive a fee for if you take out the product based on its suggestion.

Pros

  • Free to use
  • links to many UK accounts/credit cards/investment accounts  etc and those it can’t, you can upload manually
  • available on desktop

Cons

  • Not much in the way of support when using the app
  • Money Dashboard also makes money by anonymously selling your spending data to third parties. It says, ‘Money Dashboard also provides insight and market research services to help companies better understand trends in consumer behaviour. We identify shifts in consumer preferences using anonymised spending information from groups of Money Dashboard users.’ So it depends if you’re ok with that.

Best UK Budget Apps for Couples

1. iSpent19

I’ve just been introduced to this one, and it’s well worth checking out. While new, it has been well thought out, and there are some nice features, like a list of all of your upcoming transactions, and being able to see all of your accounts (including credit cards) all on the same page. You can tag transactions too to help you find something quickly, or to keep an eye on what you’re spending.

Is there a free version?

Yes, it’s free to download and use.

How much does it cost?

No cost, it’s a free app to use.

Pros

  • The app allows you to share transactions with housemates/couples as  long as you all have the app
  • You can tag/annotate transactions to remind you of what they were
  • The app allows you to track your spending and when the items need to be returned, saving you money!
  • You can set reminders to let you know when policies are up for renewal

Cons

  • It’s a relatively new app, so there isn’t a huge following yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying out

2.Starling

This is a banking app that allows you to set up a joint account with your partner. The app comes with a bank card and you can effectively switch entirely to starling if you wanted to. The “spaces” feature helps you to budget your money into categories (like an electronic version of budgeting with envelopes). It’s intuitive to use and my clients love it!

Is there a free version?

Yes starling is free! Starling is free to use for the adult accounts. They also have a free business account.

How much does it cost?

The children’s account costs £2 a month.

Pros

  • No Monthly Fees
  • 24/7 Customer Service 
  • Extremely Easy to Set Up
  • There are no ATM fees to worry about, even abroad!

Cons

  • The budgeting features come with a bank account, which you may not want to have to open to use

Are Budgeting Apps Worth it? 

Budgeting apps can be a helpful tool to get your finances under control. The best budgeting apps will offer features that allow you to track your spending, set budget goals, and find ways to save money. While most budgeting apps offer a free version with limited features, the paid versions usually have more comprehensive features and may be worth the extra cost, but there are plenty of free versions that won’t require this regular outlay.

If you’re someone that works best with a pen and paper, or with a spreadsheet, then an app might not be all that helpful. I always feel that writing things down manually, rather than relying on an app to do it for you brings you closer to your finances so you can stay in touch with what’s going on.

How Can I Budget My Money Better? 

It can feel like your money runs out before the month does on a regular basis, and you wouldn’t be alone on this. A recent study showed that “in the UK, 9% of Brits have no savings, while over 40% of people do not have enough put away to support themselves for a month in the absence of income.” 

The first thing to be aware of is that sometimes no matter how hard you budget, if you don’t have the income to cover even your basic expenses, no amount of budgeting will help. This is where you need to find ways to make more money.

If you do earn enough to cover your expenses, it can be tempting not to budget because you might have an underlying money block that makes it feel like budgeting is “boring” or “restrictive”. A bit like dieting – no fun at all.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Budgeting enables you to redirect money to where you most need it to go. By giving every £ a job to do, you get to be in control, not the other way around. Bringing some mindfulness to your spending (such as when you go food shopping – do you have a list and a weekly meal plan in mind?) can help you to hold off on automatic purchases that have not been planned. We all do them, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying money, but when it becomes a destructive habit, it’s eating away at what you actually want.

If overspending is a frequent occurrence for you, do this. At the start of the month when you’ve been paid, taking out a portion of money and save it in a separate account that is out of the way. Do this before anything else. That way, you only spend what’s left. If you do it the other way around, invariably there is nothing left.

Then, once this is done, set up a budget for the remainder.

How to Create a Budget the Traditional Way

If you’re not into budgeting apps, or you just want to try something different, there are other ways to budget your money. You can use a budget worksheet, create a budget in Excel, or even make a budget with pen and paper.

Here’s how to create a budget the traditional way:

1. Track your spending

Keep track of your spending for at least a month, so you have a good idea of where your money is going. Write down everything you spend. It might help to carry a small notebook with you, or to print out a bank statement at the end of the month to look through.

2. Set budget goals

Once you know where your money is going, you can set budget goals. Decide how much you want to save each month, and where you want to cut back on your spending. If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, give yourself a percentage that you want to save each month. This is known as your “savings rate”. The higher the percentage, the more you save of your well earned money for use “some day”. Cash is certainly Queen when times are tough.

3. Find ways to save money

Look for ways to save money on your everyday expenses. For example, you might switch to a cheaper mobile phone plan, or start cooking at home more. Only you will know which aspects of your lifestyle you’re willing to temporarily give up for the sake of saving money.

4. Review regularly

Every month take a look at your spending and saving and decide if it was a good month or not based on your goals. If you perhaps hadn’t planned for something and overspent, ask yourself if this will be an ongoing expense or just a one off that you can plan for next time.

Using a Budget Planner for Maximum Money Organisation

Budgeting can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. A budget planner can help you organise your finances and find ways to save money.

There are a few things to consider when choosing a budget planner. First, decide what type of budgeting method you want to use. There are many different methods, such as the envelope system, the 50/30/20 rule, and the zero-based budget.

Once you’ve chosen a budgeting method, look for a budget planner that offers features that fit your needs. For example, some budget planners allow you to track your spending, set budget goals, and find ways to save money. Others may offer more simple features, such as expense tracking and budget templates.

If you’re not sure what kind of budgeting method works best, try them all! Try each one out for at least 3-6 months and settle on the one that works best for you.

The Healthy Money Planner helps you to budget using the “Money Pie Method”. This method gets you to split your income up into categories such as “bills”, “investing”, “saving”, “fun”, “healthcare”, “gifting” etc to allow you to see at a glance where your money is going. It also helps you to visualise how much debt you’re paying off, how much you’re saving and can help you to plan out your goals for the year.

Conclusion:

There you have it – my roundup of the best UK budget apps! Whether you’re looking for a free app or something with more bells and whistles, we hope this list has helped you find what you’re looking for.

Ultimately, with all of these, you lose nothing by giving the free versions a try, and potentially gain a lot back in your pocket. by paying attention to what’s going on – something definitely needed right now!

And if you’re still not sure how to get started with budgeting, and prefer something written by hand, check out my budget planner: The Healthy Money Planner for maximum money organisation.

Happy budgeting!

 

 

 

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