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Best Budgeting Apps (UK)

Best Budgeting Apps (UK) feature image

Published on:

Written by: Michael Barton

Published on:

Written by: Michael Barton

Michael has almost quarter of a century’s experience in the financial world. This includes trading and institutional sales trading, and in senior positions to VP of Global Equities, as well as Head of Trader Training, at companies including Merrill Lynch (SNC), Cargill Investor Services, and Goldman Sachs. Michael’s experience also extends to providing financial advice as a personal financial advisor in the UK.
This article has been fact checked by a member of the Wallet Savvy editorial team and complies with our editorial standards.

Want to get a grip on your budgeting and make the most out of your earnings? You need the best UK budgeting apps, carefully researched and collated right here by our expert, Michael Barton.

I’m a firm believer that financial freedom is founded on good money management, and that this relies on effective budgeting.

The trouble is that, for all our best intentions, sticking to a budget is hard – it requires resolute resistance to temptation and, most of all, a deep understanding of how you are spending your money. To do this, you must record and analyse every penny you spend. I’ve never been good at this.

Oh, I start with good intentions; but very soon I forget to take my receipts out of my pocket and add my outgoings in the debit column in my cash book or on my spreadsheet.

Or I promise myself I’ll catch up another day. Then life takes over, and the task slips another day, then a week, and eventually my money management is as haphazard as it ever was.

At least, that’s how it used to be. Now, I don’t get infuriated by those people who know exactly how they are spending their money and always seem to have a little in reserve. I have joined their ranks, and it’s all thanks to budget apps.

In this article, I look at the best budgeting apps in the UK. You’ll find one of these is ideal for you, especially if you’ve decided that 2024 will be the year when you finally take control of your money.

Quick Verdict: The Best Budgeting App

In the quest to achieve your financial goals, the best budgeting apps could prove indispensable.

Moneyhub stands out as the top all-rounder, integrating all your financial accounts for a complete overview of your financial position and spending habits.

If you’re grappling with subscription management, Emma is your go-to, offering a unique focus on tracking and optimising recurring expenses.

Snoop is a smart choice if you want to reduce your household bills, while Plum excels if you want to focus on saving and investment.

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, HyperJar provides a novel approach to segregating spending.

Don’t discount digital banks like Monzo and Starling – each offer budgeting features, combined with savings and investment access, as well as advantages if you travel abroad.

What is a Budgeting App?

Old-style budgeting is an arduous affair. You’d need to be anal about personal financial bookkeeping, noting every income and expenditure and then breaking this down over weeks and months to categorise spending.

Only then could you determine with any accuracy what you were spending on items like mortgage or rent, food, clothes, transport, holidays, eating out, and so on.

My oldest brother was exceptional at keeping a budget. When he passed away, his loft was full of boxes of receipts and budgeting notebooks going back decades.

To do budgeting successfully, you’d need to check and double-check every entry. One mistake, and everything gets screwed up. My father used to spend an hour or two every weekend pouring over his spending for the week. Not my idea of fun!

Fortunately, and thanks to technology, all this budgeting donkey work can be done automatically. The best apps gather all your bank and credit card information seamlessly, and you can view an analysis of your spending in one place at the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger.

Budgeting apps use technology called open banking to collect details of transactions and balances from your financial accounts. This gives you an overview of your finances in one place, meaning easier tracking of income and spending.

The best budgeting apps allow you to categorise spending. They also learn these categories, and quickly categorise all your spending automatically. You’ll see how you are spending your money, and this will help you decide where you should cut back. But it gets better than this.

Many budgeting apps do much more than simply keeping a record of credits and debits and providing a breakdown of spending.

You can set spending limits for different spending categories, identify and cancel meaningless subscriptions, receive alerts if an account is short of funds, and get advice and tips on how to save money and achieve your money management goals.

Which is the Best Budgeting App for You?

Which budgeting app is best for you depends upon your overriding money management need. Perhaps you need an all-rounder, an app that gives a little bit of every feature.

On the other hand, you may want an app that helps you to separate your spending. Perhaps you need an app that helps you to save and invest, or one that pays higher interest on your cash savings.

Whatever your unique needs, there is a budgeting app for you. Here’s my roundup of the best apps that you can access on your smartphone.


Moneyhub connects to all your financial accounts – bank accounts, credit cards, mortgage accounts, savings, investments, and pensions.

You can categorise your spending, make comparisons to previous months, set spending goals, and track your progress. You’ll find that the app encourages you to save an emergency fund, as well as helps you save for specific goals.

It reminds you when payments are due, and you’ll receive tips to help you save money, too.

The app is easy to use, and the spending analysis is presented clearly.

I also like the fact that you can personalise spending categories, and make payments between accounts within the app.

A great app, and well worth the subscription fee of £1.49 per month or £14.99 per year (though new users get six months free).


Emma works very much like Moneyhub, though it offers a range of subscription models – from the free account with limited features to the Ultimate account with a full range of features at a cost of £14.99.

For most people, the Emma Pro account at £9.99 per month will be sufficient. You’ll be able to do all you can with Moneyhub, plus add offline accounts, set and view rolling budgets, and track your subscriptions.

This is an especially useful feature if you tend to sign up to subscriptions that you then only use intermittently. You can also earn cashback at certain retailers if you have a subscription account with Emma.


Like Moneyhub, Snoop is a great allrounder, but it does offer a few extras. These include vouchers for retailers you use.

You can connect your bank accounts and credit cards, with your financial position shown in your dashboard. The app produces regular spending summaries, which can help you to decide where to reduce spending.

Where Snoop excels is in its ability to help you identify cheaper household bill alternatives and offering switching facilities.

There is a free version, though to access advanced features such as payday-to-payday tracking, adding manual accounts, and net-worth tracking, you’ll need to upgrade to Snoop Plus at £4.99 per month.


If your primary goal is to create and maintain a budget to help you save and invest, then Plum could be the app for you.

Like the budgeting apps above, you’ll be able to link your UK bank accounts and credit cards to Plum. The system then captures your spending, automatically categorising it. You’ll receive alerts of pending bills.

Where this app differs is that it calculates disposable income available to you and deposits a weekly ‘allowance’ into your linked bank account. It holds cash in an ‘Interest Pocket’ before it is paid out to you.

You can also make use of savings ‘rules’ that will automatically put money aside. These include roundups, a 52-week challenge, and the 1p challenge.

It also offers an investment platform, allowing you to save in stocks and shares ISAs, a SIPP, and a general investment account.

For access to all of Plum’s advanced features, you’ll need to open a Plum Premium account at £9.99 per month.


This works differently to the budgeting apps I’ve discussed so far. You don’t link your accounts to HyperJar.

Instead, you send money to it, and then spend from it. You can set up different digital ‘jars’ in your HyperJar account, and spend directly from them using your prepaid HyperJar card.

This means it is more hands-on than other budgeting tools, but it does force you to think harder about your spending budget. You can block specific retailers from your account (meaning you won’t be able to spend money there), and create ‘Only’ or ‘Never’ lists.

These allow you to set retailers for specific jars, or that are banned from specific jars – great if you cannot trust yourself (or a partner) to spend money you shouldn’t!

HyperJar is free to use, but doesn’t give the full analysis you get with other budget apps. However, if you want to keep all your spending under one roof, instead of using different cards, then this is a useful tool.


Curve provides usual budgeting features – such as categorisation and spending analysis – but offers a few unique features that could help you control your spending and reduce your costs.

One of these is the ‘Go Back in Time’ feature. This lets you switch a card payment from one card to another up to 120 days after the transaction has been made.

You also get up to £1,000 every 30 days of fee-free spending abroad (which is why we have named it as an alternative to the best travel credit cards). Oh, and you could receive cashback on your everyday spending.

The downside? The Curve card takes some getting used to – you’ll need to pair your spending with the best card to get the most from it, and to access all available features you’ll need to subscribe to the Curve Metal card at £17.99 per month.

Monzo & Starling

Monzo and Starling are great digital alternatives to traditional banking, and both offer advanced budgeting features, including categorisation, setting spending limits, and the ability to set aside money in separate pots.

You can connect other accounts to your Starling and Monzo apps, and take advantage of cashback offers. They both include features to help you save, like roundups and savings pots, and both offer access to investment products.

Neither Monzo nor Starling charge fees to use your card when spending abroad.

Are Budgeting Apps Safe?

If you’re like me, you’ll be a little apprehensive about linking your bank accounts to an app. You and I needn’t be.

All these apps use safe, open banking technology, encryption, and extra-safe login processes to help protect your data and your app from being hacked.

They are also fully regulated in the UK, meaning they must comply to strict regulations that cover things like your identity, and banking and card account details.

Do You Need a Budgeting App?

With so much hanging on good money management, keeping track of your money is crucial. I’ve found using a budgeting app to be something of a lifesaver. Before you commit to investing in one, make sure you really need one. You do if you:

Want to get a clear picture of your financial situation

Have you ever found yourself asking where all your money has gone (again)? A budgeting app will provide you with an accurate overview of your finances, making it easier to understand your financial health.

Find it challenging to stick to a budget plan

Sticking to a budget can be a struggle. It only takes one slip-up, one missed entry, to blow the best-laid plans apart. Budgeting apps automate most of the process of budgeting – and this makes tracking your finances much more straightforward.

Usually miss your financial goals

Whatever you’re saving toward – a holiday, a new car, Christmas, or just to build up an emergency cash fund – a budgeting app can help you set realistic financial goals and stay on track to achieve them.

Are an impulsive spender

Do you find it hard to resist the temptation of a ‘bargain’? Budgeting apps can help you to control those urges to spend.

Not only do you have an up-to-date and accurate assessment of your financial position to deter you, but you can also set spending limits that bar you from spending.

Find budgeting a chore and a bore

Budgeting accurately requires dedication and a commitment to taking time out daily or weekly to record all your spending. A budgeting app automates most of the process of budgeting, giving you an accurate assessment without the need to spend time on mundane money management tasks.

9 Tips to Get the Most from a Budgeting App

As with any tool, you’ll only get the maximum from a budgeting app if you use it correctly. Here are my tips to take maximum advantage of the budgeting app you choose:

1. Choose the best app for your needs

Budgeting apps have different strengths. It’s critical to choose the one that matches your needs. Do you want to save money on your household bills, save and invest more easily, or have a clearer picture of your overall financial position?

2. Set your spending limits and track them

Use the budgeting app’s capability to set spending limits, and keep track of your spending.

3. Make use of alerts and reminders

Many apps offer alerts for due payments or when you’re nearing a spending limit. Use these to avoid late fees and overspending.

4. Analyse your spending

Keep a watchful eye on your spending habits to identify trends and spending patterns. Even slight changes in these could make a significant difference to your overall financial wellbeing.

5. Regularly update your accounts

You’ll need to update the link to your accounts every 90 days. Make sure you do this, as without your accounts linked and updated, the budgeting app cannot build an accurate financial picture.

6. Utilise categorisation features

If the app you use has categorisation features, use them. These will help you understand where your money is going. You can use this knowledge to help you decide where you can reduce your spending.

7. Utilise savings and investment features

Automated features like roundups take the strain out of saving. By using such features, you can use the power of the app to grow your wealth without the hassle – a painless way to achieve your longer-term financial goals.

8. Review your budget regularly

Check your spending habits regularly, and when you do so update your budget accordingly. You might wish to do this monthly or quarterly, and should certainly do it as part of your regular financial planning routine.

9. Be patient

It takes time to break bad financial habits and build good ones. The trick is to be consistent. After the initial rush of enthusiasm, ensure you keep a watchful eye on your budget by opening and checking the app as part of your daily routine.

The Bottom Line of Budgeting Apps

A budgeting app can be a powerful ally on your journey to financial freedom. If you struggle with keeping your spending in check, have specific financial goals you wish to achieve, or simply want to make money management less of a chore and bore, a budgeting app could prove invaluable.

However, it’s crucial to choose an app that aligns with your financial goals and habits. Then it’s a question of using it consistently, and in a way that will support you on your financial journey.

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