Reviews

The 8 Best Money Management Apps Of 2020 (UK)

If you are like most people, then you probably have a bit of trouble managing your finances. Maybe you get a little take out here, a nice new pair of pants there, and before you know it, you are £300 in the hole for the month.

Unfortunately, most schools do not teach anything about personal finance, so people have to learn by making mistakes and dealing with the consequences. 

Strictly speaking, making a budget is not particularly hard; it’s remembering to stick to it. Having the motivation to stick to is the difficult part.

Moreover, some people just don’t want to take the time to sit down and manually record all of their financial transactions. 

Luckily for those out there who have trouble keeping track of their budgets, money management apps exist.

As the name implies, money management apps will automatically keep track of your purchases and give you an overview of how you spend your money.

Budgeting apps and money management apps like Money Dashboard offer a free and easy way to keep track of your financial behaviour while offering tips on how to best cut costs and save money. 

There are a lot of budgeting apps out there so it might be hard to make a choice. Luckily for you, we put together this guide on the best budgeting apps in the UK that can help you with your finances. 

How Do Money Management Apps Work?

Money management apps are pretty simple. You download the app on your mobile device and connect your financial accounts.

The app will then track all your purchases and divide them into categories like housing, travel, food, and more.

Most apps will let you create custom categories for your purchases so you can get even more fine-grained details into your spending habits.

The best part of a budget app is that everything is automated. You do not have to manually record your purchase and sort them into categories. You can also have all your accounts in one place so it’s easy to keep track of bank accounts and credit cards. 

Simply put, finance apps are a simple and effective way to keep track of your budget and find ways to save money. 

Are Finance Apps Free?

Yes, most finance and money management apps are free to download and use the basic feature.

Most apps also have premium services you can pay for that open up more advanced features like credit checks, extra budgeting options, and financial advice columns and articles.

However, for the most part, you will not have to pay to download and use a budgeting app. 

Some budgeting apps make their money through affiliate links. They will offer your specific third party products based on your spending habits and financial history.

For example, an app might offer a credit card or personal loan tailored to your specific profile details. 

Most major finance apps are available for download on the Google Play Store or Apple Store. Thanks to advances in smartphone technology and the introduction of open banking, there has been an explosion in the popularity and availability of budgeting apps. 

Best Budgeting Apps in the UK

Here is our hand-picked selection of the best budgeting apps in the UK.

There are several more apps available than just these, but we determined that these are the top choices for the average person. 

1. Money Dashboard

First up on our list is Money Dashboard. Money Dashboard was founded in Edinburgh and currently boasts about 600,000 users, making it one of the most popular budgeting apps in the UK.

Money Dashboard lets you connect all your accounts in one place including bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, pension accounts, and even store card accounts. Once you download the app and connect your accounts, the app will start recording and categorizing your purchases.

While Money Dashboard has automatically generated categories, you can go over your transactions with a fine comb and manually assign them to more specific categories. 

Money Dashboard also has a useful feature where it will sync up with your payment schedule. The default setting is once per calendar year but you can set your paydays to whenever you want if you get paid more than once a month.

You can also set up “scheduled payments” that are set to come out of your account each month for things like rent, council taxes, utility bills, and more. These two features in conjunction let you see how much money you have left until the next payday after your bills are taken into account. 

Money Dashboard also recently added a new feature that lets you transfer money between your accounts via the app itself.

Strictly speaking, the app itself does not actually initiate the transaction but it creates a shortcut to your accounts that lets you do so. 

Number of accounts to connect:

Spending categories:

Budgeting:

Independent marketplace:

Payments & transfers:

Live support chat:

Android/iOS: Both

2. Lumio

It wouldn’t be a complete list without a cheeky mention of our own pride and joy. Lumio is an “intelligent wealth mentor” that uses state of the art technology to bring clarity to your financial life.

Lumio allows you to connect your bank accounts, savings, credit card, pension, and investment accounts in one place and can instantly summarise your income and spending behaviour.

With Lumio, you get an in-depth view of where your money is going and provides you with tips on how to optimize your income and minimize spending.

It is not a traditional budgeting app as it does more than just track your spending and finances. Lumio’s main feature is its Spotlight function that connects you with specialized products for those in your financial situation.

Lumio also will provide guidance on various aspects of your savings and investments so you can optimize your financial goals in line with your aspirations. 

Lumio is currently in an early build and has not yet rolled out all the features it wants to.

Right now they only have comparison sections on investment platforms, Robo-advisors, and mortgages but they plan to introduce marketplaces for savings accounts, cash ISA’s, credit cards, and lifetime ISA’s. 

Number of accounts to connect:

Spending categories:

Budgeting:

Independent marketplace:

Payments & Transfers:

Live Support Chat:

Android/iOS: iOS

3. Emma

Up in third place is Emma, a simple and streamlined app for managing finances, it markets itself as your best financial friend and includes functions for budgeting, tracking spending, and tracking your net worth.

The unique feature of Emma is how it uses a learning algorithm to track transactions. Once it recognizes a certain transaction as belonging to a specific category, it will categorize all other similar transactions in that category.

This algorithm-driven learning algorithm makes analyzing your spending money habits much easier and straightforward. 

Emma really shines because it has an excellent visually-focused design. Instead of boring charts with numbers, you get creative graphics that let you know at a glance how much money you are spending and where you are spending it.

The learning algorithm works well and can quickly adapt if you change your transactions. 

However, Emma noticeably lacks any kind of credit score feature. This is a big negative because keeping track of your credit score is an important part of budgeting.

The app also has a budgeting feature, but it only looks at your past 3 months of transactions to put something together. That means if you have had a lot of unusual transactions, you might get a budget that makes no sense compared to your normal finances.

Emma also seems to have trouble distinguishing multiple sources of income. 

In addition to the free version, Emma also offers a paid version for $5.99 a month or $49.99 a year. The upgraded account has some extra features but nothing strictly necessary for budgeting. 

Number of accounts to connect:

Spending categories

Budgeting:

Independent marketplace:

Payments & transfers:

Live support chat:

Android/iOS: Both

4. Yolt

In 4th place is Yolt, which first opened in 2016 in Amsterdam. Yolt has been able to take full advantage of open banking and lets you look at all your financial information safely and securely.

Using Yolt, you can collate all your current accounts in one place to see what is going in and coming out each month.

Yolt will take a look at all the info in your accounts and tell you your total smart balance which is calculated after subtracting all your bills and subscriptions from your current account balances. 

Yolt will also take all that data and crunch your average spending across categories. This feature helps you modify spending to reach any specific financial goals you have.

With Yolt, you can set up custom budgets for things like groceries, eating out, clothing, and more. 

Yolt also recently announced that it would be introducing a contactless payment feature that will let you transfer money between accounts and send money to friends and family. This particular feature is still in beta testing so not all users will have access to it.

If you do have the beta version it has support from six major financial institutions including Lloyds, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, RBS, Natwest, and Ulster Bank. 

Number of accounts to connect:

Spending categories

Budgeting:

Independent marketplace:

Payments & transfers: (limited)

Live support chat:

Android/iOS: Both

5. YNAB

YNAB is short for “You Need a Budget” and this name tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the app.

YNAB is a personal finance app that lets you manage your funds without having to provide years of historical data. It promises to help you pay off debt, save money, and create a budget to optimize your spending habits. 

YNAB is a bit different than other finance apps available because it is not based on past spending. Instead, it continuously updates a prospective budget in real-time based on your current account balance and how they change over time.

This is a good feature because you do not actually need to connect all of your accounts to get results. You can also track your investments to get projected investment returns. 

In addition to the budgeting features, YNAB also has a lot of educational resources to browse. It has several guides including guides on how to set a long-term budget and how to deal with your debt.

The overarching goal of the app is to smooth your budget by making you make less frequent purchases and allocating your funds responsibly through its real-time updates.

Number of accounts to connect:

Spending categories

Budgeting:

Independent marketplace:

Payments & transfers:

Live support chat:

Android/iOS: Both

6. Spendee

In 6th place on our lineup is Spendee. This app was originally designed as a simple expense-tracking app and has turned into a full-service financial management app that is used by millions around the world.

Spendee lets you connect accounts from over 2,000 banks across the world and puts that info into an easy-to-read format on your dashboard. Spendee also lets you link crypto accounts, which is an uncommon feature for budgeting apps. 

Spending is highly customizable and you can set spending categories for virtually any kind of transaction you can think of.

It will also break down your spending to give you a daily spending allowance. Spendee has alerts that will tell you when you are about to reach a spending limit for the day so you always know exactly where you stand. 

One of the best features is that you can link your Spendee account with other user accounts and credit cards. This is a useful feature if you share expenses with another person, such as a roommate or a spouse. 

Number of accounts to connect:

Spending categories

Budgeting:

Independent marketplace:

Payments & transfers:

Live support chat:

Android/iOS: Both

7. Cleo

In 7th place is something a little different. Cleo is an AU chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to manage your finances.

The chatbot links to your accounts and tracks your spending and has a neat gamification element. Cleo will engage in friendly banter with you to give the illusion that you are talking to and getting financial advice from a real person.

Cleo currently has over 2 million users worldwide, so it has become very popular in the 4 years it has been active. 

Cleo will let you track your spending, set a budget, and set spending and savings targets all in one place. It also has a useful algorithm that will tell you how much money you can afford to save based on your spending.

Cleo also has a subscription service called Cleo+ that costs £5.99 a month which offers some extra features like salary advances, cashback on spending, and a savings account that earns 1.5% interest. 

Number of accounts to connect:

Spending categories

Budgeting:

Independent marketplace:

Payments & transfers:

Live support chat:

Android/iOS: Both

8. MoneyHub

Last but not least in our review is MoneyHub.

MoneyHub is an Android and iOS app that was first launched in 2015 and allows you to connect all your bank accounts and verify individual transactions to be put into spending categories. MoneyHub is designed to help you figure out patterns in your spending and set individual spending and savings goals.

It also has a neat feature called “nudges” that give you alerts when payments are due or when you are about to go over your spending budget. 

MoneyHub has an excellent interface that is visually pleasing and simple. Everything is categorized in an intuitive manner and there is also a feature where you can connect directly with a financial advisor.

You can also play around with the Forecast feature to get hypothetical projections about budget changes. 

The one downside is that MoneyHub is not free to use. It runs on a subscription model and a basic subscription for the desktop version is either £0.99 a month or £9.99 a year.

You can also subscribe through the Apple app store for £1.49 a month or £14.99 a year. 

Number of accounts to connect:

Spending categories

Budgeting:

Independent marketplace:

Payments & transfers:

Live support chat:

Android/iOS: iOS

Conclusions

So there you have it, the 8 best personal finance apps for the UK.

Money management apps have only increased in popularity in recent years and many apps to help with your budget are branching out to offer traditional banking products.

While a budgeting app cannot make you stick to a budget, it can help with the planning process and give you little nudges to stay on track.

So, if you have trouble with managing your money, we would highly recommend getting a money management app to help you control your finances. 

Tom
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About author

Fully qualified CISI Investment adviser for 5 year. Managed UK private client portfolios.
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