Top 5 budgeting apps

Five fantastic apps to help you manage your budget

Iona Bain – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Iona Bain | Independent Money Mentor

Founder of the Young Money Blog and author of Spare Change


It’s fair to say that managing your budget is not as much fun as blowing your budget. Spending money feels great – until your bank balance hits zero, that is.

But if you’re prone to overspending the good news is that help is just a few swipes away. A range of budgeting apps have been designed to help you keep track of your finances from your phone. Here’s the rundown of my favourite five…

1. Money Dashboard

Free, iOS & Android

The king of budgeting apps, Money Dashboard gives you a fantastic overview of your finances. Once you’ve hooked it up to all your accounts, it puts all the info in one place so you can see what’s coming in and going out. You can categorise spending and view your habits over six months through nifty charts and graphics to get a really clear idea of exactly how many hundreds of pounds you’d save each year if you could only be bothered to wake up 20 minutes earlier and make a packed lunch each morning. A slight downside is that this read-only tool doesn’t allow you to move money around, but it’s one of the easiest and most attractive budgeting apps out there.


2. Bean

Free, iOS & Android

As in bean counter rather than Mr Bean, this app is for you if you tell yourself you’re too busy to shop around. Share all your messy financial connections read-only through the wonders of open banking, and Bean will flag up better deals on everything from inflated household bills to overpriced pet insurance to groggy savings rates. And unless you object it will prod your conscience over that weekly mag you’ve stopped reading or that gym sub you’re too guilty to cancel – it fires off tips to help you shape up financially instead.


3. Emma

Free, iOS & Android

Blowing too much on your Costa treats? Sorry but Emma will (with Jane Austen politeness) let you know, once your read-only accounts and cards are added to the app. She is another play on the theme of slimming your budget without losing the will to live. Her smart tech will ring up a savings target that you can afford at the end of the month and buzz you when that iced Mocha will bust your coffee budget. She’s not too polite to complain about steep-looking bank fees either, in case you miss them.


4. Wally

Free, iOS & Android

If you are a bit old school, or open banking feels a bit like snooping, don’t feel like a wally for trying this old stager. It’s a slick and stylish app where you have to do the heavy lifting yourself, inputting all the data. But after that the tech works its magic. You can see every species of account including loans, set daily or weekly budgets and savings targets, create groups to manage joint accounts, and ask Wally for spending insights and alerts. Maybe manual control isn’t so freakish after all.


5. Cleo

Free, iOS & Android

Turns out that artificial intelligence isn’t quite as scary as the movies made it out to be. Rather than cyborg assassins, AI is largely delivering humdrum things that improve our everyday lives. Take Cleo, a chatbot assistant with read-only access to your accounts who’ll give you instant answers to questions about your spending and saving, as well as charts and graphs. She won’t give you the same hands-on control as a budgeting app but she won’t be beaten for convenience either.


Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.