The Best Budgeting Apps in the UK

It’s not easy to save money when you are trying to keep up with an endless stream of bills and expenses.

Everybody needs a bit of budgeting help from time to time – whether you are trying to break bad spending habits, cut down your costs, or set aside a little bit extra for your savings and investments.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of budgeting apps available to help you manage your finances.

We’ve trawled the app stores to find eight of the best free or low-cost budgeting apps in the UK.

Read on to find the app that will transform your smartphone into your very own pocket-sized financial advisor.

1. Money Dashboard

  • Cost: Free
  • Location: UK

Money Dashboard Budgeting App

What does it do?

Money Dashboard pitches itself as a one-stop shop for your financial management.

Users add the details of their various savings and current accounts and Money Dashboard automatically sorts all your spending according to a variety of categories (e.g. ‘social’, ‘utility bills’, ‘rent/mortgage’, etc).

This allows you to review your spending and work out where you can afford to cut back. You can also set monthly budgets for each spending category, and Money Dashboard will alert you whenever you start getting close to your limit.

Other apps similar to Moneybox include OnTrees and Spendee.

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2. You Need A Budget (YNAB)

  • Cost: Free for the first 34 days, then $6.99 (£5) per month. Students get one year free.
  • Location: USA

You Need a Budget Mobile App

What does it do?

Perhaps the most famous budgeting app of all, YNAB was created in 2004 and it has a cult following of budget devotees.

The core principles of YNAB are that you give every dollar (or pound) a job, and you never spend money that is less than 30 days ‘old’.

To help you stick to these rules, YNAB has a huge network of financial experts and instructors who offer budgeting classes, workshops, and ad-hoc support to help you set your own financial goals, and stick to them.

3. Mint

  • Cost: Free to set up, but some users may incur transaction fees.
  • Location: USA

Mint Budgeting App

What does it do?

Mint helps its users to set realistic budgets, by (primarily) keeping track of your bills and allowing you to set up recurring payments from one place.

Mint also offers a credit tracking service, enabling you to keep tabs on your credit score, and its in-house financial advisors offer daily tips on looking after your money.

4. Wally

  • Cost: Free
  • Location: Multiple currencies

Wally App

What does it do?

Listed as the number one finance app in 22 countries, Wally is all about simplifying money management.

Just input your income and expenses, then log any unexpected costs as and when they occur.

Wally then instantly updates your account to tell you how much you have, and how much you can afford to spend or save.

5. Moneybox

  • Cost: Free for the first three months, then £1 per month plus monthly fees of between 0.67 and 0.68 per cent.

Moneybox Budgeting App

What does it do?

Moneybox is a savings app for people who find it hard to save. It works by connecting to your debit card, then automatically rounding up everything you spend to the nearest pound.

For instance, if you bought a sandwich for £2.95, Moneybox would round this up to £3 and invest the extra 5p for you via a Stocks and Shares ISA.

Users can also top up their Moneybox funds by setting up regular direct debits or making one-off ‘payday’ investments, and you can keep track of your ISA performance through the app.

6. Squirrel

  • Cost: Free for the first three months, then £3.99 per month.

What does it do?

Load in your salary and Squirrel will split it up into bills, savings, and disposable income.

The app then ringfences your money until its time to pay your bills and doles out a ‘weekly allowance’ that you can use however you like!

Any savings are taken out of your salary automatically and diverted into your savings account of choice, so you aren’t tempted to spend it.

7. Loot

  • Cost: Free to use, plus two free global transactions per month – after that, it’s a flat rate of £1 per withdrawal.

Loot Budgeting App

What does it do?

Loot describes itself as a “digital current account” which is attached to a contactless credit card (supplied by Mastercard).

You add money to your Loot account, and the app then helps you to set up a series of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly ‘Loot goals’.

Its most celebrated feature is the pre-paid credit card, which can be used at ATMs and pay points all across the world with no commission fees and no transaction charges.

8. Cleo

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Messaging / Chat

Cleo Budgeting App

What does it do?

Like Siri and Alexa, Cleo is a virtual assistant – but her only concern is how you spend your money!

Cleo offers real-time advice on your spending and saving habits via text or Messenger, and lets you know where you could make cut-backs and set realistic savings goals.

9. OnTrees

  • Cost: Free

What does it do?

OnTrees is not unlike Money Dashboard, in that it allows you to hold all of your account details in one place, and track your spending according to a variety of different categories.

It is strictly a ‘read only’ account, which means that you can’t use it to move money around or make withdrawals, and it doesn’t give you any financial advice – it simply presents you with all the tools to manage your own money successfully and easily.

Kathryn Gaw

Kathryn Gaw is a financial journalist based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has been writing about personal finance and investment trends for more than a decade, and her work has been featured in the Financial Times, City A.M., the Press Association, and The Irish Independent, among many other publications.