So what better time than the start of a new year to take stock of your finances? Here are five easy ways that technology can help you save.
1. Get organised and create a budget
This should be your first step. Take a cold hard look at your finances and create a realistic budget that you can stick to.
Use a budgeting app
An app is a simple and convenient way to keep on top of your spending. Most apps are simple to use, and because they’re on your phone, you’ll always have them with you wherever you go.
Homebudget with Sync is a great option, especially if the whole family is getting involved. That’s thanks to the Family Sync feature which lets a group of devices share information regarding their incomings and outgoings so everyone can work together within a single budget. That way you can see who’s letting the side down, which should be ample motivation to stick within your means.
You could also try Goodbudget. This lets you create accounts (say ‘Spending money’ or ‘Household bills’) so you can see at a glance how your funds are doing. It helps you plan before you start spending, and afterwards gives you a breakdown of where your money went.
Download a budget template
If you don’t know where to start, a preset budget template can help. Citizens Advice has a simple one that you can print off and fill out. Vertex42 also provides free templates to use on your computer – they’re compatible with Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice or Google Sheets.
2. Save the hassle-free way
Saving doesn’t need to be a complicated process. Smart money-saving apps connect to your current account and watch your online spending to analyse your spending and balance – some will even make automatic savings for you, so you don’t have to lift a finger.
Chip, Cleo and Plum are three examples. They all work out how much you can afford to save every few days and transfer this to your savings account, as long as you approve it. They will also suggest ways that you can cut back on your spending.
3. Check your current expenditure
You should put yourself through a financial MOT at least once a year. Take a look at your regular outgoings and see where you could cut back – chances are you’re paying too much for something.
For many of us, bills are some of our biggest outgoings. But it’s never been easier to switch energy supplier – just a few minutes on a price comparison site like uSwitch or Compare The Market could save you hundreds of pounds a year.
Get smart with a smart heating system
Smart thermostats work out the most efficient way of heating your home, lopping hundreds of pounds off your bills over the course of a year.
For example, the Nest Learning Thermostat learns your routine and doesn’t heat your house when you’re out. And just like the Nest, the Hive Active Heating thermostat will detect when the temperature plummets and kick in to stopping your pipes freezing, saving a pretty penny in repairs.
Want not, waste not
This is one of the most fertile areas for saving money – those everyday spendings we don’t think twice about. But just a little more thought can lead to lots more savings.
Wasted food is a massive problem – not only is it bad for the environment, it’s also incredibly wasteful. What if there was a way to not only save money on your food shop, but do the planet some good at the same time?
Well now there is. Too Good To Go is an app which connects you with nearby restaurants and shops that have leftover food – it’s perfectly edible, but if no one eats it it will go to waste. Just sign up, find a shop or restaurant and place your order. You’ll then get your meal at a heavily discounted price, which will make it taste all the better.
Olio is a similar proposition, but it connects you with neighbours as well as retailers. That way, you can share the surplus food among members of your community.
And if you’re based in London, Karma has a great selection of restaurants on board, from Michelin-starred chefs to high street fare.
Discover deals websites
It can be tricky keeping track of what’s on sale where. Thankfully, deals websites can help you find the best bargains.
They cover all sorts of categories, like food shopping, fashion and more. To see which supermarket has the best deals, check out MySupermarket. It monitors the deals from 15 top supermarkets, including Tesco, Aldi, Asda, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. Groupon has some great deals on leisure activities like restaurants, fitness and days out, while Hot UK Deals does much of the same.
Whether it’s clothes, toys or anything else, chances are you can buy it online. And if you shop around, chances are you can get it cheaper than the standard price.
Auction sites like eBay have lots of good stuff spanning all kinds of categories, and it’s not all used. Lots of independent retailers sell through eBay, so you might find something a bit different during your searching.
Amazon Marketplace is another good bet. Like eBay, it sells both new and second-hand items, with a more diverse range thanks to the thousands of retailers who sell through it.
4. Manage your investments and pensions
It can be a headache trying to remember how much money is your pension, as well as how much you've invested and where. And if you don’t keep track of our finances, you could miss out on some of your own hard-earned cash.
As ever, there’s an app for that. Moneyfarm lets you start investing in minutes – just set up an account and you’re good to go. There is a minimum investment of £500, although it does advise that you should invest at least £1,500 so that your investments are sufficiently diversified.
Personal Capital Finance is a great website for tracking your investments. It shows you all your accounts in one place, and lets you compare them against major market benchmarks so you can meet your investment goals.
On the pensions front, apps like PensionBee let you combine all your different pensions into one place - handy if you’ve held a number of jobs during your working life. The government will also launch a Pensions Dashboard sometime in 2019 which will let you see all your pension savings in one place, so look out for it. You can read about Pensions Dashboard here.
5. Learn how to manage your money
Many people think money management should be taught in schools. The good news is it’s never too late to learn.
There are plenty of online courses which will help you learn about managing your finances. The Open University is a good place to start – it offers a course called Managing My Money which will help you manage a budget, debts, investments, property purchases, pensions and insurance. And best of all it’s free, which is quite fitting.
Udemy also offers a range of online courses, including budgeting and good financial habits to get into.
You could also attend a course in person. This will make it easier to ask questions and is more suited to those who are less tech-savvy.