We’re forever talking about the importance of budgeting, but if you’ve never done it before then building a budget for the first time can be pretty intimidating. It doesn’t have to mean complex spreadsheets: there are apps that can do it all for you, right from the comfort of your mobile phone. And when it comes to simplicity and use friendliness, one of our favourites is the new MoneySkills app, launched by Coventry University’s Centre for Business in Society (CBiS), in conjunction with the Money Advice Service.
One of the key differences between MoneySkills and other budgeting apps that you may have come across is the research that’s been used to build it. The project’s lead, Professor Sally Dibb, said:
“The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a significant shock to the global and UK economies, worsening the financial vulnerability of around half of UK households, who have little or no savings to fall back on if they suffer a financial shock.”
“We have developed this app to support people’s financial wellbeing in these challenging times. Building a small pot of savings is vital for everyone, even if your income and job look secure now.”
How does it work?
MoneySkills is incredibly easy to use, with a number of key features to help you start managing your money. Broadly, it’s content can be split into the sections: education, budgeting and setting goals. The budgeting and goal-planning tools are quite basic, but great for beginners as they don’t require any in depth prior knowledge.
Where this app really shines, though, is in the educational material. Through a mix of videos and online pamphlets, it provides a free crash course in money management. It includes help for people looking to get out of debt as well as those who want to start building their savings, and also has a range of suggestions for things that you can “do today”, in fifteen minutes or less – for instance, reviewing one of your regular payments and looking for ways to reduce it.
Those who are already somewhat familiar with the basic principles of budgeting will probably find the content here a little more simplistic. And if you’re looking for an app that can actively track activity from your bank account then you’ll need to consider other options. For beginners, though, that kind of detail can be too much, meaning that MoneySkills is the perfect entry tool.
Where else can I get help?
This isn’t the only new financial support to be launched in recent months. One of our favourites is Academoney, a free online course being run by the Open University in conjunction with Money Saving Expert. It covers much of the same basic information as MoneySkills, but in a lot more depth, taking approximately 12 hours to complete and covering additional topics such as retirement, mortgages and how to make better spending decisions.
Talking about the project, Money Saving Expert’s founder Martin Lewis said:
“Companies continually spend billions of pounds on advertising, marketing and teaching their staff to sell. Yet consumers don’t get any training. We need to redress that balance. We fought hard to get financial education on the curriculum, but these important lessons can’t just stop when people leave school. With such financial turmoil across our society, it’s crucial everyone is properly financially educated, so we can improve our nation’s poor financial capability, entrenched by a lack of early-life money lessons going back decades.”
“That’s why we’ve chosen to fund this new project and partner with the Open University – one of the world’s most prestigious distance-learning institutions. Our aim is to provide a more formal learning environment for those who want to dedicate their time to improving their financial knowledge. Education is a form of financial self-defence, and so we’re delighted to encourage people to tool themselves up in our ‘Academoney’.”