Five simple money-saving apps

Lydia Smith
Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
It's always good to budget and keep on top of your expenses. Photo: Getty

It’s easy to lose track of your spending, especially if you’re used to paying via card or contactless. But it can be a shock to see how much you’ve spent in a month.

Last year, the Open Banking initiative came into force to help make managing financial lives easier. The Competitions and Markets Authority forced the nine largest banks – Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Danske, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, RBS Group, Santander – to open up their data by January 2018.

This meant that approved third parties, such as savings, budgeting and other money apps, could access this data in a secure way to help people manage their cash.

There are plenty of apps to help control spending. Here are five to help manage income, outgoings and spending at the touch of a button.

Squirrel

Squirrel is a Barclays-held account that splits your salary into your bills, savings, and a weekly allowance to spend on whatever you like. It’s helpful if you struggle to make your cash last until the end of the month, as it separates the money you spend on bills from general expenses.

You need to add your monthly expenses and savings goals, and using this information, the app will release the money you need for bills when they are due. It will also release your spending money for the week. It gives you budgeting tips and is integrated with all high-street banks.

The app is free for eight weeks, after that it costs £9.99 ($12.17) a month.

Wally

Wally is a personal finance app available on the iPhone, and as Wally+ on Android phones. It helps compare income to expenses and tracks spending habits, as well as set and achieve goals.

The app is free and useful for people who want to track purchases and think about budgeting, but don’t want to link an app to their financial accounts – as it only uses data entered manually. It’s a bit of a hassle to input information constantly, but you quickly get used to it.

Chip

Chip is an AI-powered money app that calculates what you can afford to put away and stashes money automatically. It has read-only access to your bank account, allowing the app to analyse your transactions – but it can’t set up payments or make any changes. The app identifies areas where you can save, and cut spending. The app then advises you to make those savings and add money to your virtual Chip bank.

Chip securely connects with Barclays, HSBC, Santander, Lloyds, NatWest, Nationwide, RBS, TSB, Halifax, First Direct, Co-operative Bank and Metro Bank accounts. Data is protected by bank-grade 128+ bit encryption. The app is free and available on both iOS and Android.

Money Dashboard

Money Dashboard is a free app, allowing you to view your finances in one go. Once hooked up to all accounts, it puts all the information in one place so you can compare your income to your outgoings.

Each month, you can use the budget planner feature to set how much you want to spend, compared with the previous month. You can also view your habits over the last six months through various charts, so you can work out how much you would save if you cut spending on coffee. You can also pick a financial goal to work towards, whether a holiday or paying off debt.

The platform currently supports 60 financial providers including major high-street banks such as Lloyds, HSBC, Halifax and Santander. Money Dashboard is available on Android, iOS and desktop.

Bean

This free app allows you to compare deals on your household bills, learn how to cancel any unwanted subscriptions and track your payments across every account, all from within the Bean dashboard. It links securely with bank accounts and credit cards and scans online statements to create a dashboard of recurring costs, flagging up any long-forgotten subscriptions that you may still be paying for.

If you want a better deal, the app will link you to a comparison partner so you can see if you can save. The app also provides guidance and advice on cancelling subscriptions.