Top 5 Apps to Help You Save Money

money saving apps

Holding your breath every time you check your bank balance? Scrimping to make your cash stretch until pay day? Before you ditch your smartphone and its data plan in an economy drive, check out these essential mobile apps for savers: they make penny pinching and budgeting… well, if not fun, at least convenient.

Monzo

Helpful for: tracking your spending, setting a budget, splitting bills with friends

You may have seen friends flashing the mobile banking startup’s distinctive neon orange card. Once a pre-paid debit card, the zingy Monzo card is now attached to a real current account because, as of April 2017, Monzo is a fully-fledged, mobile-only bank. If you already have a current account you might struggle to see the point of opening another. But trust us: your bank’s mobile app is nothing like the Monzo app.

Monzo alerts you to outgoings with mobile notifications and then logs your spending, organising it into several categories: from bills to holidays, cash withdrawals to transport to eating out. It then shows you a graphic breakdown of all your spending so you can see just where your money is going. Transport eating up your pie chart? Time to ditch the Ubers and embrace the bus. Groceries costing more than you expect? Better watch what’s landing in your shopping trolley.

You can also set budgets for each category and Monzo will alert you when you’re nearing them. About to Deliveroo another takeaway? Here’s Monzo with the warning ping, reminding you you’ve already exceeded your eating out budget for the month.

Monzo also makes sending money to friends and contacts as easy as sending a text message, no sort codes and account numbers required. It makes going Dutch in restaurants and divvying up utility bills among housemates simple. You can also nudge friends who owe you money by gently ‘billing’ them through the app.

Platforms: iOS, Android

Cost: Free

Download it here

Plum

Helpful for: meeting savings goals, encouragement

Imagine you had a money-conscious, savings-savvy friend who was always available on Facebook messenger with financial advice and reminders. And, oh, who also has access to your transaction data from your bank account and knows exactly what you’re spending and where.

Plum is that over-involved friend, a chatbot digital assistant who analyses your spending, helps you set savings goals and nudges you to meet them. It does this all through Facebook messenger, making saving as easy as swapping GIFs—which Plum does with aplomb, usually when you meet your goals.

Eyeing an expensive new gadget? Hoping to splash out on holiday? Or just running behind on bills? Change your savings ‘mood’ and Plum will get more ambitious with its belt-tightening recommendations. Your mum and Plum would probably get along great.

Platforms: not a standalone app but rather a chatbot run through Facebook messenger, so you’ll need a Facebook account

Cost: Free

Download it here

Squirrel

Helpful for: making and sticking to a budget, stretching your pay packet, discouraging frivolous spending

Do you fritter away your pay cheque as soon as it hits your account, splashing out on meals and drinks while you’re feeling flush, only to have to pinch pennies to pay your bills? Squirrel can help you stretch your pounds by being the virtual equivalent of a piggy bank—one of the ones you can’t get into without a hammer.

Transfer your salary into an app-controlled Squirrel account and specify how much money you need for bills (“commitments”) and how much you’d like to save. Squirrel will then babysit your pay cheque, releasing money for bills back into your current account the day before they’re due. You can also set specific, itemised savings goals—“Christmas” or “Thailand,” for example—and Squirrel will siphon off money to meet them, and then ring-fence it.

Any money readings after bills are paid and savings siphoned off is classed as spending money. Squirrel can release that money to you all at once or, if you’re still tempted to blow it, in weekly instalments.

Platforms: iOS, Android

Cost: first three months free, then £3.99/month

Download it here

Chip

Helpful for: identifying places you can economise, earning interest on your savings

Another savings-wise chat bot, Chip gets read-only access to your bank account, allowing it to analyse your in- and outgoings (but importantly, not to set up payments or make changes). After seeing where your money is going, Chip identifies places you can save. Through the app’s messenger, it encourages you to make those savings and add money to your virtual Chip-monitored piggy bank.

Chip is… chatty. Adding spare cash to your nest egg? Chip celebrates with a GIF of penguins. It’s cheerier and cheesier than Plum but Chip has an extra bonus. Any money you put into your Chip savings account pays 1% interest annually, accrued weekly and paying out every 3 months. You can put a maximum of £100 a day into that account. Recruit your friends and get them saving to earn extra percentage points of interest, up to 5% annually.

Platforms: iOS, Android

Cost: free

Download it here

Moneybox

Helpful for: adding to your savings, easing yourself into investing

Imagine taking your change from everyday purchases and, rather than losing it in your pocket or between the cushions of your sofa, automatically investing it in a stocks and shares ISA. That’s what the Moneybox app does. By rounding up on purchases made with your linked debit card and taking and investing the difference, Moneybox eases you into investing.

Is it worth it through, when you’re investing only 20p at a time? Moneybox thinks so: it lets you start earning with as little as £1 and as you keep making purchases, your savings pot will swell, without you even noticing. In testing users made 30 purchases a week with an average of round up of 28p, investing £8.40 weekly and £437 annually. That adds up! You can also augment your Moneybox account with monthly top ups.

Moneybox invests that spare change into one of three different ISAs: cautious, balanced, or adventurous. And they boast good returns. The app developers claim that £1000 invested in the ‘balanced’ portfolio in 2007 with monthly £50 top ups from your virtual spare change would have been worth £8,662 at the end of 2015.

Platforms: iOS, Android

Cost: free for the first three months and then £1/month

Download it here

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