Budgeting! It sucks if you've never done it before but it's absolutely the most important thing when it comes to all aspects of personal finance - including paying off debt and saving.
It can be overwhelming if you've no idea where to start so here's some recommendations of places to begin;
You Need A Budget
YNAB is a beast of a budgeting tool. They very much focus on educating people to plan ahead, to think about the things you "still have the ability to influence" rather than just just giving you a pretty pie chart at the end of the month telling you that you spent way more than you could afford on restaurants again. YNAB allows you to face your problems head on and create a real solution to fixing them.
- Deeply changing the way you think about money
- People that want to make a serious change and have some time to dedicate to learning how this very powerful tool works
- Paying off debt and saving all in one app
- People that like to plan- you can plan out where all of your money will go as you receive it
- Students - you get a free year of use!
NOT SO GOOD FOR
- People that want a free app (this has a month free, then after that there is a monthly subscription cost for non-students)
- A simple solution, as there is a slight learning curve
- People living in their overdraft as they don't have good overdraft functionality
- Those that don't have access to a laptop or desktop, as the app is not great to use on it's own
Monzo is an 'app-only' bank account that is growing at an astronomical rate, with 40,000 new people opening an account every week. They pride themselves on being accessible for all so that you have no surprises, both with notifications every time you spend, budgeting linked to your card's spending, and even the Terms of Service being written in a simple to understand manner. Monzo also allows you to 'round up' your spare change, so if you spend £3.60 it can automatically put 40p in a savings pot. This is the fastest growing of the 'app-only' banking options, but there are also similar apps such as Revolut, Starling and N26 which are worth looking in to.
- People starting out with budgeting, everything is done for you when you use your card
- Budgeting and banking all in one place- there is no need to link your bank account to a seperate budgeting app
- Saving easily by using Monzo's built in "pots" feature to separate your money without needing several different accounts
- Those wanting a simple to understand bank account, as everything is written in plain English
- "Where has all my money gone?!" people, as notifications pop up every time a transaction goes through, meaning there are no surprises when you look at your balance
NOT SO GOOD FOR
- People without a smartphone, as currently it can only be managed via app
- If you're happy with your current bank and have no plans of using another one for any reason
Plum is another app that automates your savings for you. It analyses your spending and, based on that, estimates how much it thinks you can save and does so automatically. You have the option of choosing how "aggressive" the saving is, depending on how quickly you want to rack up your money.
- Not having to think about saving, as it does it automatically
- People that impulse spend their savings, as it takes a few days to withdraw
- People that want a simple solution, as it can be easily set up and managed via Facebook Messenger (yes, I know!!)
NOT SO GOOD FOR
- People that want a more all-round app, as it only has very basic budgeting features
- If you want more control, as most of the app is automated
Bean is a free app which helps you keep track of your regular payments, including all of those subscriptions you secretly know you shouldn't be spending so much on. You can connect your bank accounts and credit cards to the app and it will seek out all of your recurring payments- drawing your attention to the services you don't really use or need. You can make cancellations within the app and it will even offer you comparisons to find cheaper alternatives.
- Managing subscriptions, bills are credit cards- you can make cancellations within the app and it will even offer you comparisons to find cheaper alternatives
- Easy to see your regular spending across several different accounts
- Free to use- Bean makes its money through commissions when users make switches through the app
- Smart notifications- Bean will notify you when it has found a new saving opportunity for you
NOT SO GOOD FOR
- Those who are security conscious- Bean is authorised and regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), but it is best to check with your bank to see if it is approved by them before handing your details over to a third party app. This is to make sure you are protected in case your account is compromised in any way
- International users- Bean is currently only available in the UK
Oval is an app for iOs and Android that offers creative and flexible ways to save money as well as categorising your spending and even offering investment opportunities. Fun features within the app include connecting it to your social media, Google Fit or Apple Health, so you could save money every time you post on Facebook or go for a run. They have also recently released their own payment card which is free to sign up for.
- Budgeting and saving features all in one app
- Option to connect to your PayPal account as well as bank accounts
- Save in a way that suits you- you can choose to save based on your spending patterns (such as saving money every time you spend on food or drink) or put aside fixed amounts of money as either a regular payment or as a one-off
- Set up spending rules such as "Save £1 every time I post on Facebook" or give yourselves fitness incentives like "Save £5 every time I don't reach my daily step count
- Choose if you want to save a percentage of your money of a fixed amount
- Track how much you are spending by category
- Investment opportunities based on your financial habits and a personal risk profile
NOT SO GOOD FOR
- Compatability- Oval does not support all UK banks so it is worth checking before downloading
- Those who might be tempted by risky investments. Oval is not authorised to give financial advice so using the investment requires a good personal understanding of how to safely invest your money- there is always a chance you might get back less than you invested
- Withdrawing money from your savings is not instant and can take a few days