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There is a vast resource of websites and apps allowing us to manage all aspects of our finances, from day-to-day banking with current accounts to our longer-term assets such as investments and pension funds.
As well as helping us manage our money better, apps and technology can also have a negative impact on our finances, according to research from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, because they enable ‘out of hours’ spending.
Half the UK admit to buying things online from their bed, with one in seven people admitting they regret what they buy**.
The average person has 10 apps on their electronic devices that help them to spend money.
If smart phones are making it easier for us to spend our money, can they help us save it too?
Here are some of the personal finance apps worth knowing about:
Since most people have several accounts across many different institutions this app will come in handy. It allows you to view the balances on all of your current, credit and savings account in one place and is compatible with all UK bank and credit card companies. Different transaction types will be automatically grouped and categorised into various tags, such as electricity and food so you can see just where you money goes each month. You will need to enter your bank login details once in order for the software to read your bank statements. This app is read-only, so no payments, withdrawals or transfers can be made from any of your accounts.
This is another app which enables you to view all your bank accounts from different providers in one place. There is also a desktop version. Again, this is a read-only service, which means it cannot be used to move money in or out of accounts. It sorts your bank and credit card transactions into categories so you can easily see where your money is being spent.
Moneybox is a digital version of saving coins from your purse into a jar. You register your debit card and it rounds up small everyday purchases to an amount set by you and puts the excess into a stocks and shares Isa or general investment account. So if you buy a coffee on your card for £2.40, it will automatically invest 60p. You can also choose to make monthly top-ups to boost your investment pot. Each option contains different allocations of the same three tracker funds - a Henderson cash fund, a Vanguard global equities fund and a Blackrock property equities fund.
Moneybox is free for the first three months, and costs £1 per month after that to cover transaction fees. There is also a platform fee of 0.45%, and users must pay for the underlying tracker fund investments, which cost around 0.2%. The company is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority so if it was to go bust, your investments would be protected up to the value of £50,000.
Investment giant Fidelity offers customers and non-customers access to an app which has a range of features designed to keep investors up to date with the latest market and business news, exclusive insight from Fidelity’s investment experts and tools to keep track of investments and view account projections. Many other wealth managers and financial advisory groups offer an app which allows help with investment research and news.
This service enables you to track your retirement savings on your mobile phone. You list your employment history and PensionBee consolidates all the pension plans in one place. You can see your current pot size, your projected retirement income, and set up regular or one-off contributions with a few clicks. There is a customer support team on the telephone should you need to speak to a human being. You also pay a fee to cover transfers, fund fees and administration of contributions. It’s an annual charge of between 0.5% and 0.7% of your pension. Your money is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
This app helps you control how you pay off your debt. By entering the values of your debt and updating it as you pay off balances, you can watch as the debt reduces and as your interest charges reduce.
TRAVELLING ABROAD APPS
The Travelex Money App
The Travelex Money App helps with budgets for an upcoming holiday by letting travellers see how much other British travellers have spent on average on trips to their destination.
Once travellers have settled on their budget, they can then order the money through the app and have it delivered to the location of their choice – whether that’s the home, or Travelex store at the airport. While you’re away the app allows you to access an offline currency converter so that you can work out exactly what your shopping will actually cost you.
We all know how important it is to guard your personal banking details such as sort codes, account numbers and passwords to avoid falling victim to identity theft. Handing everything over to one website might feel risky. So make sure you read up on the security measures taken. And if in doubt, ask them for more information on how they keep your details out of the hands of criminals.
1. Find out how much you could save for the future
Essential costs are things like rent/mortgage, utility bills, train fares and childcare. These are your fixed costs.
2. What your future savings could look like
These calculations do not include the interest your savings will earn you over time. Any pay rises or promotions will also help you increase your savings potential, as well as any opportunities to make extra money or reduce bills.
3. Your future savings budget breakdown*
4. Working out how to budget and save each month
The key to achieving your savings goals is to clear any debt first and then to save regularly!
Get into a savings habit and whatever you can afford to put away each month will soon add up over time. Your future self will thank you for it.
And remember FSCS protects your savings for free, from as little as £1 up to £85,000. Check your savings provider is FSCS protected.
Contactless payments can make it even easier to lose track of your spending. Here's a guide to the apps and technology that can help us save just as easily.