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29 Dec 2019

The best budgeting and savings apps to help you save money in 2020

Let tech do the hard work managing your money in the new year

If your bank balance is feeling the pinch after funding your festivities, don't worry - we've rounded up some of the best apps to help get your get back in the black.

The average household spends £800 extra in December, according to figures from the Bank of England. This puts a lot of pressure on your finances if you haven't already planned for this extra spending.

To help you recover - and plan ahead for next year - we've looked into the best apps with clever tech that can cut your expenses, build a budget and help you save without even realising.

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Budgeting and saving apps round-up

All of the apps we're including in this round-up are both FCA-approved and regulated open banking providers.

Introduced in January 2018, open banking enables third parties to access your financial information in a secure, encrypted way.

This was brought in as an alternative to screen-scraping, where you would have to hand over your login details for apps to 'read' your transactions.

None of the apps listed here are banks - you can find advice on app-based banks at the end of this article.

Money Dashboard

Price: Free

Availability: iOS, Android, Web

What does it do? As the name suggests, it's all about the dashboard, which can bring together all of your accounts in one place.

That means you can see your current account, savings and credit card balances at the same time, and really get a handle on how your spending is going.

All income and spending is automatically categorised, and you can set spending targets for each one - which can be particularly handy if you have an online shopping habit you're trying curb.

You can also take a look into the future, as the apps sets out your predicted income, expenditure and balances. So, if you want to save up for a holiday this summer, the app can let you know how much you need to start saving right now.

More than 70 banks are supported in the app, covering smaller challenger banks to the big high street brands - and more are in development.

Money Dashboard makes money by selling anonymised spending data and recommending financial products in return for fees.


Price: Free

Availability: iOS, Android, Web

What does it do? Yolt offers another way to see all of your finances in one place. It features bank accounts, credit cards and pension investments, and supports more than 35 banks and financial institutions.

Spending is split into categories so you can see where all your money goes each month, along with three-month spending-history charts.

It also highlights any upcoming debit payments, so you can make sure you have enough money in your account to cover them.

You can also set and track spending limits for each category, monitor renewal dates for bills and subscriptions, make payments and switch energy providers - all of which should help you stop spending more than you need to.

Yolt makes money by recommending financial products, in return for a fee.


Price: Free

Availability: iOS and Android

What does it do? Emma describes itself as a 'financial advocate' for your money. It aims to help you avoid overdrafts, tracks your debts, and identifies and cancels subscriptions you don't use in order to help you save money.

You can track your spending, set budgets and you'll also get notifications to tell you when you've received refunds, when direct debits are set to leave your account and when your salary has been paid.

The app also has the capability to track cryptocurrency investments. It supports connections with Coinbase, Kraken, Binance, Bitfinex, Bitstamp, Bittrex and individual Bitcoin/Ethereum addresses.

By giving you the full overview of your finances, Emma aims to make it easier to identify where you can save money.

Emma makes money by offering a paid subscription service called Emma Pro, with added features, and cashback deals with companies in its Emma Rewards cashback scheme.

Oval Money

Price: Free

Availability: iOS and Android

What does it do? Oval Money's 'thing' is that it lets you set up a series of savings rules based on your habits - these are called 'steps'.

One example could be paying £1 into your Oval savings account whenever you go for a run, or whenever you post on Facebook. Or, you can just set up a fixed weekly deposit to make sure you're saving regularly.

Then there's 'Oval Coach', which sets you savings missions to improve your habits. The more missions you complete, the more money you save.

The savings accounts are held in a segregated account at Barclays, so your cash is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) should anything go wrong. But bear in mind that this only covers you up to £85,000 per provider, so if you have other accounts with Barclays this will add to your total.

You can link many accounts to the app (it currently works with 28 banks and credit cards) to track your spending, and you also have the choice to invest through the app, although this will put your capital at risk.

Oval makes money through commission on investments made through the app.


Price: Free

Availability: iOS, Android, Web

What does it do? Unlike the other apps in this list, Cleo works as a chatbot through Facebook Messenger.

It uses its oversight of your finances so that you can ask it questions like 'can I afford a night out?'. In response, you'll get insights into how your spending is going this month (and maybe a witty gif).

Cleo also sends notifications, quizzes, insights and challenges to keep you up to date and engaged with how your money's doing, even if you haven't asked it a question.

There's also a handy Cleo wallet feature, where it calculates how much you can afford to save each week, and squirrels that sum away before you can spend it.

It's worth bearing in mind that the app can only read transactions you've already made to make calculations based on your income and spending; you can't move money within the app itself.

Cleo makes money from its paid subscription service Cleo Plus, which provides extra features and a rewards scheme.


Price: Free

Availability: iOS and Android

What does it do? Bean is all about tracking and staying in control of your regular payments - no mean feat when everyone is signed up to so many subscriptions.

You can connect your bank and credit card accounts, and the dashboard will identify all of your recurring payments. Then, if you were to find a gym membership you never use, the app can sort out cancellations, as well as providing a comparison and switching service if you want to look for a cheaper deal elsewhere.

Bean also notifies you about insurance-renewal dates, whether your bills are set to increase and any other useful information to make sure you're not paying out more than you need to.

Bean makes money from commissions when users use the app to switch financial products.


Price: 99p a month/£9.99 a year; £1.49 a month/£14.99 a year via the App Store

Availability: iOS, Android, Web

What does it do? Moneyhub can be used by individuals and businesses to give an in-depth analysis of your spending and savings.

You can connect your current accounts, credit cards, savings accounts, mortgages, pensions and investments, and set up budgets for different spending categories.

The app sends 'nudges' to update you on how far through your budget you are; knowing that your 'restaurants' budget has nearly been spent might make you more inclined to cook at home.

For trickier financial decisions, Moneyhub also has a 'Find Advisor' feature. This puts you in touch with professional advisers, and can share all of the data you've set up on your app to give them a full overview of your situation. This, of course, is only done with your permission.

Budget and save through your bank

While many of the big banks have updated their banking apps to offer some of the latest features, there are a few mobile-based challenger banks that are still leading the way.

In addition to banking services, their apps offer smart ways to help you budget and save.

Current accounts from the likes of Monzo, Starling, N26 and Revolut (which isn't technically a bank) have proved hugely popular due to their real-time spending updates, spending categories, and features such as 'round-ups', which automatically save the difference between what you spend if you round it up to the nearest pound.

For instance, if you buy a cup of coffee for £2.50, a round-ups feature would take £3 from your account and put the extra 50p in your savings.