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Five mobile apps to help overhaul your family’s finances

Posted in: Finance Last updated: 20 Jun 2017
Family on iPad

Your smartphone can be a brilliant tool to keep you on top of your household finances, with apps to help with everything from budgeting to building your credit. There are many apps out there which claim to be indispensable, but which ones are really useful? To save you time, we’ve picked out five of the best free apps to simplify your financial life.

Osper

You’re probably already thinking about your children’s financial future. Maybe you’ve started saving for it with a Junior ISA or a Child Trust Fund, but are you also teaching your kids how to manage their money today? It’s never too early to start, and apps like Osper can help.

It’s linked to a prepaid debit card (costing on average £2 per month) designed especially for kids and teens aged 8 to 18. It allows parents to load the card with money, set withdrawal limits and keep an eye of what their kids are buying. Osper isn’t a credit card, so it’s impossible to go overdrawn - you can only spend whatever cash has been added to the card.

It will not work for purchases from age-restricted merchants such as bars and online casinos, and you can even choose to block online spending altogether, giving you more control over how your kids are using their pocket money, so you can encourage better habits.

Cleo

Artificial intelligence is increasingly working its way into our financial lives, and it’s found an ingenious application in Cleo. This bot is like a virtual personal assistant which talks to you through Facebook Messenger, text message, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. You can ask it questions like “What’s my bank balance?” or “How much have I spent on Uber this month?”.

It analyses your online banking transactions to give you insights into your spending habits, like “Your Amazon spending is at an all-time high!” or “Steve hasn’t paid you his share of the gas bill yet.” If you’re struggling to stick to a budget, Cleo can send you daily reminders of how much you can spend, so you can avoid going overdrawn.

For Cleo to work, you have to give it your bank login details, which might worry the security-conscious. But Cleo says it doesn’t save these details on its server, and does not share them with Facebook. It accesses transaction data in read-only mode, so no money can be moved out of your account, and it uses bank-grade security to protect your information.

Wally

Wally is a smart personal finance app which aims to balance your income and spending and show you exactly where your money goes.

Using machine learning technology, the app adapts to your behaviours and preferences to give a personalised feel. Notifications remind you of bills due, or when you have reached your savings goals. You can enter transactions automatically by taking photos of your receipts, and you can export your data to an Excel spreadsheet.

One clever feature is its location services, which recognises where you’re doing your spending. So if you use the app while you’re waiting at the coffee counter in Starbucks, all you have to do is enter the price of your Triple Grande Unicorn Frappuccino and it will add details of the venue and the spending category.

This app could help if you often find yourself frittering away money without knowing where it’s really going. Mindful spending will mean you reach your financial goals more quickly, whether it’s paying down debt or building up a nest egg for your children’s future. 

Clearscore

Imagine you’re a first time buyer, you’ve saved diligently, used your Help to Buy ISA or Lifetime ISA, and you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. Knowing what information lenders hold about you is vital, and you need to make sure it’s accurate and shows you in the best light as a borrower. 

Try an app like ClearScore, which lets you access your credit report for free. It displays your Equifax credit file including your accounts, financial associations and any credit searches on one single dashboard within the app. You can view your long-term debt (like a mortgage) and short-term debt (like a credit card balance).

It also gives you your credit score, which is a number meant to give some illustration of your credit worthiness. However, you shouldn’t focus too much on this number because each lender will assess you differently, according to its own criteria. For example, you may be rejected for credit even with a perfect credit score because the lender thinks they won’t make much money from you.

ClearScore can send you notifications whenever a new credit report is ready, and any changes from the last report are flagged up. You don’t need to enter your bank or credit card details, and the makers say this service is free forever. The app suggests credit cards, loans and car finance deals which match your financial credentials. Useful if you are on the lookout for a new deal, or want to save money on a balance transfer, but you should be sure it won’t tempt you to take out more credit you don’t really need. 

Revolut

Revolut is an app linked to a multi-currency debit card which reduces the cost of spending overseas. It lets you spend and transfer money internationally and gives you the real exchange rate between 26 different currencies, meaning the rate at which banks trade the currencies between themselves, without extra mark-ups and fees that you might have to pay if you bought currency at the airport. For example, the average bank would charge you £44.13 to change £1,000 into Euros, says Revolut, while it lets you do it for free.

The app’s layout and navigation is user-friendly with very accessible analytics, so it’s perfect for the less digital savvy members of the family. One really useful feature lets you send and request money from other users in just a couple of taps, and a ‘split the bill’ function means you can instantly work out who owes what for that dinner out.

You can analyse your spending easily by category and retailer, block certain types of transactions, turn contactless or ATM withdrawals on and off instantly, set a spending limit or disable the card through the app.

There is also an option to open a UK current account instantly. Whether you’re planning a family holiday and want to make your money go further, or you’re organising a stag do and want to make sure everyone pays their share, Revolut could be a great solution. 

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. You should always read provider’s Terms & Conditions thoroughly before making any choices about whether these applications could be suitable for you and to make sure you understand what protections will apply.