Nearly one in three Brits say apps are having a negative impact on their personal finances, making it too easy to spend at any time of day or night. As most people have their smartphone close to hand at all times, it's not surprising to find that it's being used to spend, and this app-enabled purchasing can add up to quite a lot.
We all know how much of a time sink smartphones can be, with an endless number of apps available to keep us distracted at all times. Now, a survey run by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has revealed that almost two-thirds of Brits (61%) believe apps make it easier to spend, with nearly a third (31%) stating that apps make them spend more or lose track of their spending, thereby negatively impacting their finances.
The research further found that the average person has 10 apps on their smartphone or tablet that allow them to spend money – sometimes requiring only a single tap. These apps are most often accessed in bed, with people splurging either before getting up and starting the day (38%) or at night just before sleep (18%). However, 15% of survey participants revealed they also spend while at work.
All this buying can add up to an average of £123.20 spent through apps per month. The average for women is a little higher, at £131.00, while men spend an average of £115.39 per month.
What they spend their money on also differs per gender, with men twice as likely to make impulse buys while out with friends or at the pub (according to additional Censuswide date). And given the increasing number of apps that require only a fingerprint to process a payment, being too drunk to remember your passwords is no longer a safe deterrent from going on a spending spree.
Women tend to spend more on online food shopping, either ordering groceries (£41.31 versus men's £26.62) or meals for home delivery (£15.27 versus £11.57), as well as splurging on general shopping through for instance the Amazon mobile app (£41.16 versus £32.99). Men, on the other hand, spend a lot more on online gambling apps (£10.05 versus women's £5.32), as well as entertainment (£9.09 versus £6.07) and music (£6.43 versus £4.58).
Money also goes into pampering apps, travel (such as Lyft) and socialising online. Meanwhile, only 18% of respondents said they have an app on one of their electronic devices that helps them to save or manage their money better, with men slightly ahead of the curve at 21% versus women's 16% with a savings app.
While one way to resist temptation is simply to disable payment methods that allow easy spending, such as the one-click or fingerprint buying methods, smartphones can also be used for good. Not only are there banks such as Atom Bank which are accessible exclusively through a smartphone app – and pay some of the best fixed savings rates to boot – but there are also plenty of other apps that can help you save.
And there is certainly a need for these apps, as 23% said they would save more if it was easier to set money aside, 21% if they could get a savings tool to show them how much they could or should save, and 16% would save more if they were given regular reminders.
Mark Oakes, head of Communications at the FSCS, commented: "Being able to make purchases at the touch of a button removes the thinking time you would usually have if you were in a shop. It requires discipline to stay in control of your money - not only spending but also saving - but it's worth doing. Setting aside just a little a month can add up to a big sum."
So, aside from maybe deleting some of those all-too tempting apps from your phone, why not look through the best savings accounts to see which ones can be managed via smartphone or online, as those will usually come with handy tools and reminders. Also consider putting some general savings tools or voucher apps on your phone, as discounts and vouchers can help save you money in a different way.
Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.