Lifesaving 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.

Available at

2. Loot

Free, iOS & Android

Sometimes it is far too tempting to spend when you are off to the shops with your credit card in your pocket. Happily there’s now a card that gently encourages its users to spend less. Loot combines a prepaid Mastercard service with a smart app. You can set daily budgets and long-term saving goals, and there are handy pie-charts to keep you up to date with your progress. As you can tell from the company’s #LootGoals social media campaign, the app is aimed at Instagram-savvy students but it’s useful for anybody who could do with a bit of guidance.

Available at

3. Squirrel

£3.99 a month, iOS & Android

Struggling with saving? Squirrel could be your new best friend, albeit an ultra-sensible, well-behaved one who occasionally disapproves of the way you live your life. It practices tough love, splitting your salary into weekly payments and holding back money each month for savings. It also handles your bills and gives you a weekly allowance, which you can set to your liking. The account is held through Barclays and while you won’t earn any interest on the savings, this furry-tailed disciplinarian is fantastic for someone who struggles to stay out of their overdraft.

Available at

4. Spendee

Free or £1.60 a month, iOS & Android

This real big Spendee is good-looking, so refined and, since it has access to your accounts, has a pretty good idea of what’s going on in your mind. Shirley Bassey songs aside, this really is a beautiful app. It’s particularly great for frequent travellers as it allows for different currencies, and it’s also fantastic for people with joint accounts (you can sign up with flatmates or partners). It has all the features you would expect from a good budgeting app, such as the ability to categorise spending and set notifications. You’ll want to spend more than a little time with it.

Available at

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.

Available at

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.