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5 of the best household budgeting apps

Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to track your spending and keep on top of your finances. Here are some of our favourite household budgeting apps…

Monzo

With the closure of so many traditional high street bank branches, it’s little wonder that the trend for digital banking is on the up. One of the most popular banking apps is Monzo – a smartphone bank account.

Monzo helps you to keep a close eye on your spending. You’ll get real-time notifications when you use your debit card and you can set up budgets for spending categories, like food shopping, and receive a warning when you get close to your limit. You can also set up ‘pots’ and transfer money into them if you have particular savings goals. Plus, you can round up your spending to the nearest pound, with the change going into one of your ‘pots’.

A really useful bill tracker monitors direct debits and will notify you if a bill is higher than usual. Handy for keeping tabs on your phone bills or if you’ve been moved onto a higher energy tariff. And, if you’re going abroad, you can make free cash withdrawals up to £200.

If you need to make a deposit you can do it electronically or send a cheque. Cash deposits can be made anywhere with PayPoint for a charge of £1.

The downside, particularly if you have a lot of money in your account, is that you won’t earn any interest. Also, while Monzo works with all Android and iOS phones, it is unavailable if you have a Windows phone.

Like most traditional bank apps, all the data held on your phone is encrypted and password-protected. Monzo is also fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so should it go bust, you’re protected on up to £85,000 of your money.

Similar to Monzo: Starling, Atom

Yolt

Yolt is an app for managing your overall household budget. It allows you to keep track of all of your bank accounts in one place, plus keep an eye on your spending – from bills and groceries, to transport and eating out. You can set yourself budgets for each spending category and receive notifications when you reach a set limit. Yolt can also analyse your spending habits and suggest the best banking products for you.

This app is easy to use and all your finance information is presented in a way that’s simple to understand. As with Monzo, your private data is encrypted. Yolt is also part of the multi-national bank ING, so it has the most up-to-date security systems in place.

The main downside is that you can’t yet transfer money between accounts seamlessly, although Yolt Pay is in development and a basic version is now available. You also can’t view your Yolt account on a web interface, only via your smartphone, which can be annoying if you struggle to look at everything on a smaller screen.

The Yolt app is free to download on Android or iOS.

Similar to Yolt: Curve, Money Dashboard

OLIO

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of edible food are wasted by UK households each year, while at the same time 8.4 million people in the UK are struggling to afford to eat, according to the charity FareShare. This makes apps like OLIO a no-brainer.

OLIO isn’t a finance app, but it is a great way to cut down on household waste and enable the redistribution of unwanted food. The app allows you to upload pics of any unwanted or leftover food and share them with people nearby. For example, if you have leftovers from a meal or if you’re going on holiday and have food in your fridge to dispose of, you can upload it to OLIO and a neighbour can come take it off your hands. Generally speaking, if it’s food you would eat yourself, then it’s fine for OLIO.

The focus of this app is on building a sense of community spirit and connecting with your neighbours. Anyone can donate or take food and it’s up to the person giving away the food to decide who should receive it.

OLIO is a community built on trust, but if you’re unsure about someone check out their profile and user rating to see if they’re legitimate. People can pick up items directly from your home or, if you prefer, you can arrange to meet them in the safety of a public place.

The OLIO app is free and can be downloaded on Android or iOS.

Similar to OLIO: FareShare, Too Good To Go

RoosterMoney

Father showing his child how to use the RoosterMoney kids money saving app

If you’ve got kids and you want them to start thinking about the value of money and managing their own finances, then the RoosterMoney app is one for you.

This app allows your children to upload the amount of pocket money they have (with you, as the parent or guardian, acting as the bank). They can then keep track of their savings and set goals for things they want to buy, like computer games, trainers or toys.

You are able to input how much pocket money they get each week or month, plus you can upload extras like rewards for chores. To keep things simple, each family member has a separate log in.

It’s worth noting that this app is just a tracker, no real money flows in or out of your bank account. When your child wants to spend money you just remove it from their spending pot and give them actual cash to spend. If they’re saving up for a particular goal, you will receive a notification when they reach their target and you can make the purchase for them or give them the money.

The RoosterMoney is free to download on Android or iOS.

Similar to: iAllowance, Kids Money Pocket Money Calculator

Shopmium

In the past few months, UK food prices have steadily increased, mainly because of rising food production costs and fluctuations in the value of sterling caused by Brexit uncertainty. So, for many of us, when we get the chance to grab a supermarket bargain or a reduction in the price of our weekly shop, we snap it up.

Shopmium is an app that allows you to claim cashback on a selection of supermarket offers. All you have to do is buy the product in your supermarket, send a picture of your receipt, scan each eligible item and then you get cashback paid directly into your bank or PayPal account.

You can use Shopmium at all the main UK supermarkets and occasionally they have offers at M&S Simply Food and Whole Foods. New offers are uploaded to the app each week and you can track them by allowing push notifications to be sent directly to your phone.

Shopmium also has a great refer a friend scheme, where they’ll credit you £3 every time you refer someone. Rather than give you cash, Shopmium will top up your cashback – so the next time you make a purchase you’ll get your normal cashback, plus additional money back from your referral credits.

Note, each offer has its own T&Cs, particularly regarding the quantity of individual items you can buy and claim cash back on, so check the small print before you shop.

Shopmium is free to download on Android or iOS.

Similar to Shopmium: CheckoutSmart, Quidco Clicksnap, GreenJinn

Expert opinion

Faith Archer is a mum of two and money blogger at Much More With Less. Here are her top tips…

“I really like the Yolt app because it lets me see the balances in my different bank accounts all in one place, and check the money coming in and the bills going out. I set a target for my food spending each month, and it sends an alert if I'm getting close. 

“I'm also a big fan of Chip, the automatic savings app. It works out what you can afford to save, and transfers small amounts to a savings account every few days. 

“My biggest tip is to keep a spending diary, so you can see where your money goes, and work out where to make changes. If you create a spending diary on Google Docs or Google Sheets, you can update it even when you're out and about. I also recommend going through all your direct debits and cancelling any you don't use any more (the trial subscription that ended, the magazine you don't read, insurance for the mobile phone you no longer have). Then you can tackle the rest one at a time, looking for a better deal.”

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