It’s April, the daffs are out (yay!), the jays are back in my garden, everything’s fresh and new and lovely. I love this time of year. It blows away all the winter cobwebs and gives me a bit of energy back.
And so I also find it’s the best time of year for sorting out all the things I’ve ignored or let slide over the miserable winter months. Sorting, tidying, fixing. And one of those things, tiresome as it is, is my finances.
This year, I thought I’d try out an app to help me keep track of my bank accounts and spending. There are lots of them out there, but the one I’m trying is called Snoop. You can download it for free to a smartphone or tablet either by tapping on this link or searching for it in your app store.
The Snoop app works best if you already do your banking online. (If you prefer to manage your accounts in person or over the phone, you might want to try a simple budgeting app like “Spending Tracker” instead. Again, it’s completely free and you can download it from your app store.)
Snoop is quite a clever little app. The way it works is that you securely connect all your accounts and credit cards to the app, and then you can see all your money in one place. If you want to move money around or make a payment, you still need to sign in to your individual banking app, call or go into a branch, but with Snoop, you can easily see how much you have in your accounts and what you’re spending your money on.
It uses a system called “open banking” – a super-secure, behind the scenes link between banks – which means Snoop never sees your bank log-in details and can’t make any changes to your accounts. I could actually do something similar through my Halifax banking app if I wanted to, but I’ve never bothered.
Because the really clever bit with Snoop is the “money-management” tool that comes with the app. Basically, it’s a little computer program called a “bot” that analyses the information from your accounts. It can automatically split your spending into, for example, energy bills, phone bills, grocery shopping, etc., and make suggestions on how to save money. It can help you compare the cost of electricity suppliers and insurance companies, check subscriptions and recurring payments to make sure you still want to be paying them, and even find money-off vouchers for shops you use a lot.
You’re completely in control of how much of that sort of thing you ask the app to do for you. And it’s all done using bank-level security and privacy. Some of the fancier tools you have to pay a small subscription for, but most of them are free.
You might be wondering what’s in it for Snoop? No such thing as a free lunch, and all that. Well, just like with the big comparison websites like MoneySupermarket, they take a small commission if you use one of their recommendations – you don’t pay for that though, the credit card/insurance/energy company does. They also pool together data about what people are spending their money on (completely anonymously) to find patterns and trends.
This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but tools like this can be really useful if you find it hard to keep track of where your money goes each month.
Right, that’s nearly it from me for this week, but before I go I wanted to let you know about our Easter opening hours. We’re going to be closed over the Easter weekend, including Good Friday on the 15th and Easter Monday on the 18th.
We’ll be back as normal on Tuesday 19th April.