Making putting your money into savings an automatic event is an easy way to see your savings grow.
Often one of the biggest barriers to putting money into savings is simply remembering to do it. So your salary comes into your current account and stays there. Some of it goes to bills, some of it to shopping and going out. And before you know it, there’s not much (or any) left to put into savings. So nothing gets saved. And this repeats month after month.
But it is possible to break that chain so some of your money goes into savings before you can spend it – and you don’t even need to do anything each month. After the initial set up, these three methods will automatically move money out of your main account into a separate account.
Set up standing orders
This is the simplest way to ensure you save every single month. Doing this means the money is automatically saved month after month.
You need to do three things. First, set up a separate account which is just for your savings (try for one with some kind of interest, though that’s hard right now). This doesn’t have to be a standard savings account with your current bank. It can even be a separate current account at a different bank where it’s possible to get 2.02% interest with Virgin Money.
Then work out how much you can afford to save each month. This isn’t difficult. Just add up all your regular bills and essential outgoings such as food and petrol for a month and deduct this from how much you earn in a month. What you’ve got left is what you have to spend for the rest of the month until your next payday. You’ll need some of this for fun stuff, but you’ve got
Finally, set up a standing order for that amount to come out of your current account and into your separate account on the same date every month. Personally I’d set this to be as close to payday as possible so you can’t spend the cash before you save it. If your payday tends to move when it happens on a weekend, then allow a couple of days before the standing order takes the cash.
You can always change the size of the direct debit if you feel it’s too much or too little.
Use an AI app
If you’re not confident you have enough money spare each month to save at payday then there are some apps which will help save smaller amounts as the month goes on.
Once you’ve downloaded the app you need to connect it to your bank account. Doing this gives each app access to see your bank balance and monitor regular payments in and out. The apps then use smart algorithms to analyse your spending.
Now it’s the clever bit. The apps can work out how much they think you can afford to save, and transfer than money automatically to a separate account. Slowly but surely the total saved adds up. You can, of course, use one of these as well as setting up standing orders in order to save that little bit more each month.
With each of these apps you have the ability to increase or decrease how much and how often you save, and well as reject a saving if you think you need to keep hold of the money. And if you change your mind it’s easy to withdraw the money back to your current account, though it might not be until the next working day, depending on the app.
I know some people worry about the safety of this but your banking data is all encrypted to keep it safe. Your money is also protected if the companies running the apps were to go bust, though not necessarily if the bank holding the cash goes under. I’m happy with the ones listed below but if you’re not comfortable with doing this then do a bit more reading to put your mind at ease.
Here are the main artificial intelligence savings apps that will automatically move money for you:
Chip (plus free £10 bonus)
From mid January 2022 the AI feature on Chip will once again be free. And you’ll be able to save into a 0.7% AER account so you’ll earn interest on your savings.
New Chip customers will get a £10 bonus by signing up with teh code CHIP-CJX271. Add it to the “promos and referrals” section once you’ve downloaded the app and registered.
Cleo (plus £5 bonus)
You can either run Cleo from an app on your phone or use Facebook Messenger. Personally I prefer the app. If you sign up via this link and connect your bank account you can get a £5 bonus.
The money is stored in a Barclays e-account via MangoPay, so you won’t lose it if Cleo closes down.
There’s a premium Cleo Plus option for £5.99 a month. I’ve not looked into this in detail but my first impression is that it’s unlikely worth paying for.
The free version is all you need to the automatic savings, though if you choose to pay more you’ll also have access to Plum Plus which comes with an investment platform.
Money saved by the app (not including investments) is kept in an e-account with MangoPay and ring-fenced in case MangoPay or Plum goes under.
Round up your spending automatically
A final way to get money in your savings account without any effort is to use a “rounding up” system. When you spend money, the bank will round up the transaction to the nearest pound, moving this spare change across to a savings account. For example, spend £3.75 and 25p will be moved over.
I don’t use this option myself as I tend to spend with my cashback credit cards instead, but I like the idea of small amounts adding up each time you shop. If you use your debit card a lot it could quickly build up a few quid every day or two.
A few banks (listed below), offer this and you’ll need to opt-in for the rounding-up to happen. All work a little differently so make sure you understand how what you’re signing up to. In particular check you can access your money when you need it (eg MoneyBox offers a 95-day notice account alongside investment options).
Chase Bank “Roundups”
This is the best of the bunch as you’ll get 5% interest on the money moved over. You need to activate it in the app. Here’s my Chase Bank review.
Alongside the AI feature listed above, Plum also lets you connect any bank account and run this feature. Great if you’re not already with one of the banks listed below.
Lloyds, Bank of Scotland and Halifax “Save the Change”
It’s the same programme at these three big banks. Activate Save the Chance on your account and each time you use your debit card the difference to the nearest pound is paid into a savings account. You need to have an eligible saving account with the bank.
One of the first services to offer a round-up option in the UK, MoneyBox is different to the others as it’s not a bank. Once it’s rounded up the money you’ve got options of where to save it. Though it’s mainly about getting people to invest, there’s also a Cash Lifetime ISA option, and a 95-Day notice account paying 1.65%.
Monzo and Starling
As you’d expect from these two up-and-coming digital-only banks, you can choose to round up. Here you can save into pots within the account. Both banks are app only and come with lots of other budgeting and money management features. They’re also good for spending abroad fee-free.
Revolut Spare Change
All Revolut accounts, including the free version, have the feature where pennies are rounded up to the nearest pound and paid into one of your Vaults.
TSB Save the Pennies
If you’ve got a TSB Spend & Save current account you can choose to turn on Save the Pennies. You can actually have the top-ups pay into a savings account held by a family member or friend if you choose.