Need help with monitoring your bank accounts? Unsure where your money disappears to every month? Or just need help saving a little extra each month? Then take a look at the best personal finance and budgeting apps available.
As time has gone on, I have found it more of a struggle to keep track of my finances. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming anyone other than myself.
I have a Santander account for cashback on my daily bills. A Nationwide account for free travel insurance. A Lloyds account for free cinema tickets. A Halifax account for a free £2 every month. That used to be £5, but it has steadily decreased over the years. But, I’m not giving it up. Plus, credit cards and several other old bank and savings accounts that I rarely use.
As you can imagine, it’s not always the easiest thing to keep track of.
So, that’s why I looked towards some apps to help me out. And not only do some of these apps help me keep an eye on my accounts, they monitor my spending and help me save too.
I have broken the review of these apps into three main categories – budgeting, personal finance and both.
Budgeting apps are there to help you monitor your finances and see how much is coming in and going out of your accounts.
Savings apps assist you with saving and possibly making money. They take money from your current account and help you build a savings pot.
Personal finance apps attempt to do both of the above functions.
If you want a more in-depth review, just click on the app title.
The Emma app links to your current accounts, savings and investments and keeps track of money coming in and going out. You can breakdown into categories where your money is being spent or which merchants you use the most.
Emma learns when you have money coming in, so it is able to set you a budget each month. Emma also lists all your subscriptions, which is very handy in finding if you’re paying for services 5 years after you last used them.
There is also an option to move to a paid version of Emma which offers some (rather underwhelming) extras. Emma also offers ‘rewards’. These generally involve you signing up for a trial or purchasing something and receiving money back. No reward should ever involve me spending money.
Money Dashboard works in a similar way to Emma. Link your current and savings accounts to find out how much you are up or down overall. There is an active budget tracker that breaks down how much you have spent that month and in what categories. You can then compare this to the previous month’s spend.
You can also set yourself a budget for every month. For example, if you don’t want to spend more than £400 on ‘fun’, create your budget and Money Dashboard will let you know your progress. You can also see how your budget compares to previous months.Join Money Dashboard >>
Yolt is one of the big players when it comes to budgeting apps. It’s owned by ING Bank which has over 38 million customers, so it has plenty of backing.
Yolt is probably the most customisable of the budgeting apps. But, because of this, you need to put more effort in to realise all of its benefits.
Two things that let this app down
1. unlike all the other apps here, you can actually make payments from your bank using the Yolt app. That may seem like a benefit to you, but that makes me a little nervous.
2. They are keen for you to find better deals for other services (such as insurance). That’s not about you finding a better deal, but them making a referral commission.
If you have a bit of time on your hands and need complete control of your finances, this is certainly one to try.
Best budgeting app
This is a close one, but Money Dashboard closely wins the best budgeting app. It’s comprehensive and it doesn’t take long to customise it to your needs.
Personal finance apps
Oval Money is another way of tracking your accounts. But this app goes one step further than just managing and monitoring your money. You can allow Oval to analyse your accounts and allow it to calculate how much you can afford to save. Then, every few days, small amounts of money is taken from your current account.
You can also set-up your own saving rules too. For example, every time you spend money on clothes, Oval will take the equivalent 10% of that money from your current account. A spend and save if you will.
You can also link Oval to your health app, so it can save money every time you walk a certain number of steps.
Oval Money also offers you the chance to invest if you fancy trying to make a bit extra too. However, their funds do charge 1%, which is more than many equivalent funds.Join Oval Money >>
If you decide to try Oval Money, use the code PCVMV8U when you join and we both receive £5.
Cleo allows you to set your own budget over any period you choose and also gives you a breakdown of your income and expenditure each month. Cleo also has a number of ways you can save money too. Cleo can work out how much you can afford to save each work. Or, you can use ‘rounds up’. Every time you make a purchase, Cleo can round up the amount you spend to the nearest £ and send it to your Cleo wallet.
Cleo’s app works in a very similar fashion to Facebook Messenger. That means you often have to type messages to get updates. For example, type balance and Cleo will show you how much you have in your bank account. This may sound simple, but if you don’t use the app regularly, you’ll probably end up forgetting the commands you need to type.
It’s also important to note that you won’t receive any interest from any money in your Cleo wallet. That is unless you sign-up to Cleo +. This monthly subscription service will also pay you cashback when you shop in certain stores.
If you sign up for Cleo using my link below, we will both earn £5.
Tandem is useful at letting you know how much money you have available to spend throughout the month. It calculates how much your expected bills will be and subtracts it from your income.
Not only that, Tandem has several ways to save too. You can allow the app to calculate how much you can afford to save, set up weekly deposits or turn on round ups. Alternatively, you can just make one-off payments when you want. Any money you have in your Tandem account earns a rather unexciting 0.5%. However, you can place your money in fixed-term savings account for better returns.
Best personal finance app
Oval Money takes the award here. There are more ways to save money and the budgeting side is more comprehensive compared to the others. It’s just a shame that they don’t pay any interest.
Plum links to your current account and can give you daily notifications of how much money is in there. That’s as far as it goes when it comes to budgeting. However, this is great for letting you know if somebody has unexpectedly dipped into your bank.
The real benefit to Plum though, is it analyses your current account and works out how much you can afford to save. Plum transfers small amounts from your current account every few days to an account held by Plum. Then you have a choice. Keep it there until you have something you want to spend on or invest it. Investments come with greater risks than normal savings accounts and potentially, greater rewards.
Investing will cost you £1 per month. On top of this, you will need to pay the fund’s fees and fees to Plum’s technology partner. That means you should be able to find better value if you go straight to the fund provider.
Plum doesn’t come without issues though. There seems to be plenty of people who struggle with connections to their bank. Sometimes they go down for a few hours up to several weeks. Withdrawing money can take longer than I would like sometimes too.
Chip, much like Plum, analyses how much you can afford to save and takes it from your account in small amounts. Chip, however, pays you a straight 1% interest for anything you have in your account. This is far simpler for people who don’t want to go down the investing root. Chip also allows you to set goals, which is useful if you want to start setting yourself targets.
Chip has a much more stable bank connection compared to Plum. However, the gifs they send can be irritating and the 1% interest rate is still a little miserable, even in today’s market.
Moneybox has the fewest features of all the budgeting and personal finance apps in this review. Instead, it focuses heavily on encouraging you to invest. Like Cleo, Moneybox uses round ups, but you can also use weekly deposits or an extra amount on payday.
Any money you save goes directly into a savings account. And there are plenty on offer. You can choose between a General Investment Account, a Lifetime ISA, Stocks and Shares ISA or a fixed term savings account. It’s important to note that you will need to pay a fee of £1 per month. However, interest rates and fees for the various account seem competitive.
Moneybox seems aimed towards those of us who are looking for longer-term savings.
The best savings app
Narrowly, I will have to choose Chip. From my first day of using it, I have never had any problems and it’s great for short-term savings. Plum is aimed more towards the longer-term, but better value can be found elsewhere.
I hope my review of the best budgeting and personal finance apps has been useful to you. I’m always on the look-out for new apps, so please let me know below if there some others you think I should take a look at.
Please note that links to Cleo, Oval Money and Plum are affiliated. That means that I may receive a small referral fee if you join.