Talking about money is a major taboo in countries and cultures around the world, and the UK is no exception. While discussing finances with friends and family can be nerve-wracking, staying quiet about how we earn, spend, and save contributes to poor financial literacy. As a result, many of us never learned how to budget when we were young. Once you start earning a real paycheque, though, learning how to manage personal finances is crucial. Thankfully, budgeting sites and apps can help even the most novice beginners get a handle on their spending habits.
Here are five of the most helpful free and paid money management sites you should go to for budgeting tips and UK banking advice.
Yolt is one of the best-known budgeting apps in the UK. It’s an open banking platform that lets you see all your linked accounts on one dashboard and track your spending from each of these accounts. You can also use the app to set budgeting and savings goals, transfer money securely to friends, and track your finances based on your payday instead of a calendar month.
The most unique part of Yolt is its stealth mode, a feature that camouflages your real balances and account information from prying eyes. Activating stealth mode will alter your standard currency and randomise other info while still allowing you to show what the app’s interface looks like.
The downside of this app is that you can’t use it on the web, only on a mobile device. There’s also a delay before transactions register in your account, meaning you can’t quite view things in real-time.
2. Money Dashboard Neon
The original Money Dashboard was a pioneer in the world of budgeting sites, but they’ve since scrapped the old interface and come out with a brand new app—Money Dashboard Neon.
Like other budgeting apps, Neon lets you connect your bank accounts to track them all in one place. It also allows you to break your spending into different categories and build a custom budget. Users can even sync their pay cycles for more accurate budgeting and schedule automatic payments through the app.
The downside of Money Dashboard is that to keep their app free of charge, they sell user data to third parties. Even though they anonymise the data and promise not to release your identity, this could be a deal-breaker for more security-conscious folk.
The Moneyhub personal finance app is a bit different than the others on this list because it requires a paid subscription. The organisation’s reasoning, though, is that they’ll never sell your information to third-party buyers—something that’s very important when we’re looking at banking. The subscription won’t set you back much, just 99p per month or £9.99 per year, and the security is well worth the cost.
Moneyhub’s other standout features include an overview of all your financial accounts, detailed analyses of your spending, and the ability to set spending goals for yourself. You can also use the “nudge” tool to avoid missing a payment and get notified of ways to save.
What sets Moneyhub apart from the rest is the “forecast” feature. With this tool, you can add in a theoretical change to your budget (such as getting your car repaired or going on holiday) and see how it will impact your future finances. This empowers you to spend wisely and never be caught off guard.
Have you ever wished that your bank accounts came with a financial advisor who would tell you exactly when you can and can’t afford something? With Cleo, the AI budgeting app, your wish can come true.
Cleo uses a healthy dose of sass and millennial humour to give it to you straight. If you’re trying to decide whether going out for a pint is a good idea, ask Cleo. She’ll analyse your current account balances and upcoming expenses to tell you “absolutely not” or “yes, but then you can only spend £15/day for the rest of the week.”
If even that isn’t enough to keep you from opening your wallet, you can always ask Cleo to roast you. She’ll come back with a flurry of memes and drag you for your financial choices (or begrudgingly admit when you’ve done a good job).
Emma may not be a budget planning app, per se, but it does make saving and sticking to your budget a lot simpler. Emma is, as the founders say, a “fitness tracker” of sorts that watches your transactions instead of your heart rate.
This app links directly to your bank accounts, investments, and credit cards to provide a real-time view of your entire financial state. The main feed on the home screen includes easy-to-understand summaries of your account totals and upcoming reminders. Deeper inside you can find detailed analytics, information about all of your linked accounts, and a money-saving tool that helps you find better deals on recurring bills.
Emma is unique because it applies the concept of gamification to your money. The app prompts you to complete “quests” that will help you understand how to use all of its features to the fullest. If you need more robust features than the free version provides, you can upgrade to a “Pro” account at any time.
Give These Budgeting Sites a Try and Take Control of Your Finances
Curbing your extra spending and understanding where your money goes doesn’t have to be painful. These budgeting sites make money easier to understand and—dare we say—can even make budgeting fun. If you’ve ever had questions about how best to direct your dollars or just want to see your finances displayed in an intuitive format, give one of them a try today.
The way you budget and spend your money is important, but where and how you save it has just as much of an impact. Take a look at this article for help deciding whether a commercial or investment bank is more in line with your financial goals.