You may have the best intentions of saving up money – perhaps your countdown to Christmas has started, or maybe you've started planning next year's holiday – but it can be hard to find the time to sit down and really take charge of your finances. That's why Moneyfacts.co.uk finance expert Rachel Springall has come up with seven top tips to save money using only your smartphone.
Even if you have just £50 to put aside, it's a good idea to open an easy access savings account as this will reduce the temptation for you to spend that cash. Many of the top-paying easy access accounts are online-only, which means you should be able to get an emergency pot going easily enough via a browser or proprietary smartphone app.
"Starting a savings pot can be done in just a few minutes online, and today some of the best easy access accounts are online-exclusive," said Rachel. "Easy access accounts overall are improving, as the average rate of 0.63% is the highest seen since February 2016 when it was also 0.63%, so they are worth reviewing."
While many may feel reluctant to give a store their personal details, some loyalty programmes can certainly be worth it. With free cash, discounts or presents on offer, loyalty can pay out, and now with technology to help, you wouldn't even need to lug around a whole bundle of loyalty cards.
Rachel tested one of these "free and simple ways to have these cards at the ready, in the form of the Stocard app. It scans each barcode on your loyalty cards and logs them so you can access all your cards quickly using only your mobile phone." If you remember to take your mobile phone with you, you could quickly and easily save up enough for a free coffee or discounted shopping experience.
You don't need to switch current accounts to get some welcome cashback for your spending. "Cashback websites have boomed in recent years and it's easy to see why," Rachel explains. These sites, which are often free to sign up to, allow customers to earn something back every time they make a purchase.
"As there is less than three months to go until Christmas, shoppers may as well try to earn a bit of cashback when buying gifts," added Rachel, with most of these sites such as Quidco and TopCashback now offering cashback from thousands of different brands through their own mobile apps.
The days are long gone when you had to rely on cutting out vouchers from your local newspaper. If you find yourself out and about considering a purchase or eatery, you can use sites such as Groupon or VoucherCodes to see whether you'd be able to get a discount – no scissors required.
"Consumers don't necessarily have to go into a store to pick up vouchers or find out about discounts these days; in fact, shoppers can gain access to thousands of vouchers and deals online for free, or even at the touch of a button via a mobile app," said Rachel. "Sites like Groupon and VoucherCodes allow shoppers to earn an array of cashback or discounts and even help them save cash on home delivery, and it doesn't cost a penny to download the apps."
Not everyone wants to put away the same amount every month into a savings account; especially those with a variable income would be reluctant to set up a standing order to their savings pot. However, that has traditionally meant remembering to transfer the money manually each month.
Thankfully, there are now several smartphone apps that can help people who don't want the hassle of remembering to save. One example is Chip, a free app that automatically puts away a flexible amount of cash every few days. "Chip works out how much money users could save and sends a text message as a notification before transferring the cash to a separate pot," Rachel explains. "Users can even see how long it would take them to save towards a certain goal, making it effortless to start building a savings fund."
A well-known savings trick is to put aside your loose change throughout the year and then deposit the whole lot into a savings account for a welcome savings boost. With the advent of contactless and fewer people now using cash to make purchases, this trick may be falling into disuse, but Lloyds Bank has come up with an alternative.
"Customers can 'Save the Change' using their Lloyds Bank current account to grow their savings," Rachel has found. "When customers are in credit, a single purchase is rounded up to the nearest pound, with the difference transferred into a separate account by signing up online. Bit by bit these transactions can build up over time; if a purchase for £1.25 is made, Lloyds will transfer 75p into their savings account, which could see them save £5.25 in a week if this is spent every day."
Even if you don't want to automate the savings process, you might want some help figuring out where you can save. Instead of going through all your outgoings manually, there are now apps that can go through your financial statements for you and point out where you could make some cuts.
One of these apps, highlighted by Rachel, is Money Dashboard, which allows customers to "determine what spare cash is left to put towards a specific savings goal," among other things.
Even if none of these tips or apps sound exactly like the one for you, there's a good chance that if you are looking for something specific to help you save money, there's an app for that. To get the best interest rate on any type of savings account, however, you may still want to refer to the Best Buy charts, as by the time you read this it might be the case that the top-paying account isn't an online-only product.
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