How technology can help you track your spending: My top five budgeting apps

How technology can help you track your spending: My top five budgeting apps

I’ve been on a personal mission since the start of 2019 - to track my spending each month and gain a better understanding of my spending, saving and investment habits using various apps. Following an extensive trawl of the internet and app stores, I have come up with my five favourites that could help you track your spending and (hopefully) make better budgeting decisions.

Cash and phone

1) Money Dashboard

Money Dashboard allows users to analyse and track their expenses by bringing all their online accounts together in one place. The app automatically categorises all your expenses from your accounts so users can see how much they are spending in a number of different areas, such as transport or eating out. Users can also set budgets which can then be tracked over time (along with analysis of your spending habits over set time periods).

Who will Money Dashboard appeal to?

Data enthusiasts! It’s a free tool and is perfect for those who want to understand their spending habits and set a budget.

What are the drawbacks?

You can’t execute transactions or enforce a budget. Money Dashboard will help you understand, rather than manage, your money.

2) Squirrel

Squirrel claims to address the issue of overspending by allowing users to split their income into bills, savings and a weekly spending allowance. Accounts are held within Barclays (which makes it easy for Barclays account holders) and can be set up within minutes. With Squirrel you also ensure all your bills are automatically paid, in full and on time.

Who will Squirrel appeal to?

If you struggle to keep up with your bill payments or split your money between spending, saving and bills then Squirrel could be for you.

What are the drawbacks?

Unlike some of the other offerings in this list, Squirrel requires users to open a new bank account. Squirrel is also only free for the first eight weeks. After that you have to pay £3.99 per month to use its services.

3) Cleo

Cleo uses artificial intelligence (AI) on Facebook’s Messenger platform to track spending. However, rather than seeing a mass of graphs and data (which could become quite depressing) Cleo takes a more practical approach. Users can ask Cleo simple questions such as ‘can I afford to go out tonight?’ or ‘how much have I spent on taxis this month?’ and it will respond with data based on the accounts you have provided it access to.

Who will Cleo appeal to?

Cleo is very simple to use and users are not required to download and sign up for a third-party app. For avid users of Facebook Messenger this would be very useful, providing quick answers to their budgetary questions. However, this is not an app for data enthusiasts and is better suited to the first-time or lazy budgeter.

What are the drawbacks?

Similar to Money Dashboard, Cleo cannot execute any transactions for users and is a more basic analysis tool. Cleo also requires users to have a Facebook account, so won’t appeal to those who eschew social media.

4) Curve

Curve allows users to combine all their cards into one, sleek-looking MasterCard, eliminating the need to carry multiple cards around. Users are able to choose which card to pay with and can easily switch between cards using their mobile app. A major advantage is the ability of users to retrospectively change their payment method. For example, if you used your HSBC card but later decided to use a different card you can select the transaction within the app and change the payment method after you have paid.

By combining all your cards into one app users can track expenses and spending habits across a number of accounts more easily.

Curve does not charge for payments abroad (within set limits) and provides some in-app cashback rewards.

There are three options: Curve Blue (which is free), Black (which costs £9.99 a month) and Metal (which costs £14.99 a month). The paid versions have more generous withdrawal and travel limits than the free version.

What are the drawbacks?

American Express has recently blocked usage of its cards with Curve. Curve also has a £2,000 spending limit and £200 daily withdrawal limit on its most basic card. However, users can upgrade (at a cost).

5) Moneyhub

Moneyhub differs from the other offerings in this list as its functions extend to tracking investments. Moneyhub allows users to track and analyse everything from expenses and savings to fund investments. The app can also provide ‘nudges’ on expenses or spending habits. Users are also able to directly find, connect and share data with financial advisors.

Who would Moneyhub appeal to?

People who want to track investments. Users can view their overall net worth and analyse spending and investment habits in one place.

What are the drawbacks?

It does not allow transaction execution and may require manual input of investment details.

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