Whether you’re a sucker for playing games on your commute, want to learn a new language or love keeping track of your latest run, there seems to be an app for everything. While the team at Salad Money loves playing Candy Crush as much as the next person, we think new budgeting apps deserve a big shout out too. Let’s look at these apps in more detail.
What Are Budgeting Apps?
We’re not sure how we used to get anything done before apps were invented, especially when it comes to managing our money. Call them budget apps, money management apps or personal finance apps, they all mean basically the same thing. These financial apps use your banking data to help you understand your financial habits, see your bank balance and track your spending. They are designed to help you take care of your finances, make good financial decisions and achieve your short-term and long-term financial goals.
Best Free Budgeting Apps
The features and usefulness of these apps seem to be never ending, which means that working out which one to use could prove to be a hard decision unless you have all the facts. Luckily, we’ve gone out in search of all the info so we could put together this handy mini-guide to some of the best budgeting apps currently on the market.
With over 600,000 registered users, Money Dashboard is without a doubt one of the oldest and most popular personal finance apps in the UK. It’s around ten years old, and has been voted the best personal finance app two years in a row.
Money Dashboard can give you an overview of all your finances in one place with a feature that allows you to connect and view multiple accounts. It’ll also allow you to categorise your spending with various tags such as ‘groceries’ and ‘electricity,’ and display everything on a user-friendly dashboard. This app is really great for those who want to plan and predict their financial future and focus on specific financial goals.
Yolt is another great banking app with a lot of handy features. It allows you to view all your accounts in one place, including your credit cards. It also motivates you to set financial goals by giving you insights into your spending habits and identifying your major expenses.
One great feature of Yolt is its comparison service. Yolt has tools to help you get the best deal for your money with various offers from selected partners such as energy suppliers and investment platforms. It’s worth noting, however, that Yolt receives a commission from these selected partners. Yolt is great for people who like to know they’re getting the best deal for their money.
If you want an app that’s been tried, tested and improved upon over a number of years, then Moneyhub is for you. It’s been around since 2009, which means it’s actually older than Instagram. Moneyhub is similar to Money Dashboard and Yolt, in that it brings all of your financial accounts and credit cards together in one place. It allows you to see what’s happening with your money each month, set spending budgets and track your progress to make sure you’re not at risk of overspending.
What separates Moneyhub from some of the other budgeting apps on the market is a feature that allows you to receive nudges and reminders when payments are due. Another great feature of Moneyhub is that it offers you an easy way to get in touch with a financial expert. Through the app, you can share your data securely with a financial adviser who can give you bespoke advice and guidance about your finances.
Emma is a relatively young app that’s used primarily by people aged 25-35. It was launched in 2018 and described by co-founder Edoardo Moreni as a ‘fitness tracker for money.’ Emma is useful for helping you avoid overdrafts, cancel wasteful subscriptions and save money.
You can use Emma to track all your accounts, sync your budgets and it even includes a countdown to payday feature so you’ll know exactly how long you’ll have to wait before your salary comes in. Emma also allows you to find and cancel wasteful subscriptions, which is great for people who struggle to keep an eye on their finances.
Cleo is the dark horse of budgeting apps. Mainly targeted towards younger users, it’s a personal finance app with one big difference; it makes managing your finances fun. It’s free to use, it was voted the best money app in 2019 and it even has games and quizzes that could give you a cash prize if you win.
Perhaps one of the best and most well-loved features of Cleo is its chat feature. Cleo uses AI to speak to you like a real person and even ‘roasts’ you when it feels as though you haven’t been managing your money well enough. This app is definitely for people who are bored by budgets and looking for a quirky alternative to managing their money.
Best paid budgeting apps
If you really need a hand with budgeting, these paid apps offer additional functionality and data privacy at a cost-effective price.
Moneyhub is a low-cost app (free for six months then £0.99 per month) that connects to current accounts, credit cards, savings accounts, pensions, mortgages and investments. It charges a fee because it doesn’t sell users’ data to third parties.
According to user reviews, it connects to many more accounts than some competitor apps. It also allows you to manually add assets that aren’t held by an online banking provider, but which contribute to your net worth. Moneyhub’s useful forecast feature predicts how much money you may have in the future given a variety of scenarios.
Moneyhub will alert you to better deals for regular payments, such as insurance or subscriptions and allow you to compare your spend by category against previous months to see if your cost-cutting measures are making a difference. You can even click the ‘Find Adviser’ button to be put in touch with professional advisers over the phone and share your app data with them, saving you time and ensuring that you get the right advice.
Using an adorable (or creepy, depending on your perspective) squirrel mascot in pink wellies, Squirrel is a budgeting app that has access to your current account.
Using the app, you set savings goals and input how many subscriptions you have and how many bills you need to pay. When you get paid, your money will go into your Squirrel account, where the app will take out the money you need for monthly outgoings and savings, and divert the rest of your money back into your current account. It will then automatically pay your bills and subscriptions for you.
This means that all the money you have in your current account is yours to spend on whatever you want. No more worrying about whether that extra-whipped cream pumpkin-spiced latte will push you into the red. Be aware that Squirrel does cost £9.99 a month (after an eight-week free trial), so this is for people who really don’t want to manage their money themselves.
Are budgeting apps safe?
Data privacy is a huge concern for a lot of people, and it’s a concern that inflates massively when people are asked to share bank details and other sensitive information. In order for the majority of these apps to perform, you have to enter and share your banking information, credit card details and other personal financial information. This will always incur a slight risk, but fortunately, there are a few things you can do before you download a budgeting app to make sure your data is as secure as possible:
• Check the privacy statement
• Check the app’s security level
• Find out who owns the app
• Password protect your device
• Don’t use the app on public Wi-Fi
Luckily, most banking apps have ‘read-only’ access, which means that although they can see your financial data, they can’t actually make any changes. These apps also store that data on their own company servers, which means that if your phone were to get stolen, there would be no way for the thief to access your full information. Some apps, like Money Dashboard for example, are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and actually utilise the same security practices as many of the leading banks.
If you’re looking for an easy way to help you set budgets and manage your money, then we hope you’ve found a good option on this list. If instead, you’re looking for online bank accounts you can use completely online, then check out our blog on the best new banking apps in our news section.
If you’ve fallen off the budget wagon, however, and need a quick injection of cash, avoid toxic high-cost loans and contact us at Salad Money today. We offer fair, affordable loans to key workers so that you don’t have to worry about getting caught up in a cycle of debt.