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Anyone who has decided to start getting a hold of their finances will have experienced trying to work out how best to do it. Some will have gone for pen and paper, others an Excel spreadsheet. Either way it can be a difficult task, as most of us these days will have several different financial institutions that we use, from banks to credit card providers, pensions, savings accounts, and even store cards. It can be a pretty big task to make sense of it all, and even harder to track it on an ongoing basis!
Luckily, as with some many other areas of our lives, technology has provided solutions to this, with many apps now available to help out. From budgeting apps to banking apps that have budgeting features, and automatic investing/saving apps – many of these use a new system called open banking to help them to help you navigate your finances. So – the first question has to be…
What is open banking?
Open banking was a process begun by the EU Parliament in the 2010s, and has really flourished in the UK. It is based on the concept that a person’s financial data is their own property, and that they should have open access to it. In practice this means that now banks, credit card providers, and other financial companies have to give access to your financial data i.e. transactions, upon your request, to any licensed financial app. Apps such as budgeting apps and savings apps use open banking to connect to your bank (in a very safe and secure way). They can then analyse your transactions, and apply tools to the transactions that will help you. For example, budgeting apps can apply money management tools across all of your accounts, and automatic savings apps can calculate an amount you can easily save each month.
There are several budgeting apps that have emerged in recent years, all of which use open banking. Each of them features a range of budgeting features, and supports a large number of banks, credit card providers and other financial institutions. The great feature they all have is that they can connect to several of these at the same time, so they can show your overall financial situation in one app. No more logging in and out of multiple sites to see where your finances are!
Popular Budgeting Apps
An app that has been around for a long time in comparison to many fintechs, Money Dashboard has been operating since 2011. Initially an app for computers, in recent years they have launched Money Dashboard Neon, their smartphone app that uses open banking. The app features a very analytical approach based around showing all of your finances within one dashboard. The Money Dashboard app is completely free to use
The company behind Moneyhub provide open banking technology to other financial businesses, so the systems backing up their customer facing budgeting product are definitely at the cutting edge. They provide many useful money management features and the app costs only 99p a month.
The Emma app features a wide range of budgeting features, presented in a more accessible and fun way than some other budgeting apps. They have a free version, but to unlock the full range of features, users need to subscribe to their paid options, which at £4.99 or £9.99 are quite expensive in comparison to other budgeting apps. Users should ensure that any savings they make by using the app will justify the cost of the subscription!
A newer entrant on to the market, Snoop have a more fun, social media styled presentation, designed to make budgeting fun. Snoop features ‘Checkers’ which analyse your spending in certain areas, such as bills, subscriptions, insurances and more, and suggest alternatives that may save you money. The Snoop app is free to use and they do not have a paid tier.
Banking Apps With Budgeting Tools
It is not just the dedicated budgeting apps that have provided new ways for people to manage their money more efficiently. The rise of fintech banks such as Starling Bank, Monzo and many more, has seen these providers add a variety of budgeting features into their app-based bank accounts.
Whilst they are not as comprehensive as dedicated budgeting apps, they can be incredibly useful. From things as simple as getting alerts on your phone whenever a payment goes in or out of your account, to the ability to create different areas within you account to separate your bills from the money available to spend, these features can give you much more insight on your day to day finances.
Automatic Savings Apps
Automatic savings and investment apps also use open banking. They connect to your bank and analyse your spending. They then calculate an amount you can afford to save each week/month, and then move this amount into their platform. Once in their platform, they have a variety of saving and investment options you can use to grow your wealth.
Popular Automatic Savings Apps
Plum offer a range of saving and investment options, including a stocks and shares ISA and a Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). They also feature a range of money management tools within their app.
The Chip app connects to your bank and uses AI to analyse your spending. Then they calculate the amount you can afford to save and move it to their app. Once there, they have a variety of savings options, and also investment options, including an ISA.
Moneybox aim to digitally replicate an actual money box, in that they do round-ups in your bank account. They analyse your transactions, then round-up each transaction to the nearest pound, and then transfer the difference to their platform. Once there, they offer various savings and investment options.
Technology has changed our lives in so many ways, and finance is no different. It can be overwhelming at times, but if you find the right app for you, then it can be an increadibly powerful way to budget, save, invest and more.
About the author
Wiseabout.money is a blog run by a husband and wife team, and provides reviews, comparisons and guides related to UK personal finance, designed to help you on your personal finance journey.