Proof our money manages us

And what U can do about it.

We conducted some research recently (the same research that revealed where financial worries rank in our top 50 fears) into how well the people of Britain are keeping on top of their finances.

Turns out, not so well.

  • More than half of us haven’t looked at our bank balance in the last month
  • 26% haven’t checked it in THREE MONTHS
  • 4/10 of us have had a debit/credit card rejected in the last 30 days
  • 63% have paid using contactless, completely unaware how much money we have. And half of us do that almost every day.

In short, most of us have got absolutely no idea where we’re at financially. Not only are we unaware of how much money we have in our accounts, but we’re even paying for things without knowing if we can afford them — playing a dangerous game of ‘card roulette’ and hoping to avoid embarrassment at the till if our card is rejected. We’re risking spending more than we have, and why? Because we’re not in control.

56% of us spend more than we have coming in each month

But it’s not because we just can’t resist the occasional treat, because we’re actually missing out on the things we really want because of it…

27% of us have gone without a holiday or other treat because we’ve overspent elsewhere

Perhaps we’re just not very good at planning ahead. By not budgeting properly, we’re allowing our finances to dip into the red and not leaving ourselves any wiggle room to be able to afford the things we want.

And it’d help if we had a better idea of our our outgoings …

1/3 of us are unsure how much money will be left after we’ve paid our bills
40% of us don’t know the dates our direct debits go out

Time to take back control?

While we live in an age where accidentally liking something on Facebook keeps us up at night more than accidentally going overdrawn, the digital era has also brought us new, alternative solutions to money management that many people haven’t discovered yet.

There’s a whole heap of extra stuff that the traditional banks don’t (won’t?/can’t?) do, besides give you a single place to keep your money. And that’s where the digital (un)banks come in.

If we take U Account as an example, there are all these additional features in there that can really make our financial lives easier:

1. Extra Accounts

You don’t need to open multiple current or savings accounts to separate your money. Extra Accounts are sub-accounts that live within your main U Account; they let you keep your bill money away from your thrill money, so you can clearly see what you have left each month and avoid overspending. They have their own unique account numbers too, so you can even set up your direct debits to be taken from the same account where you’ve set aside the funds.

2. Automated budgeting

The visibility you gain from separating your money into different Extra Accounts makes it easier to keep some aside for the stuff you actually want to be spending your money on, like holidays and social events. But if you want to go one step further than that, U has some automated accounts that will set small amounts of cash aside for you over the year or the month, to build up a nice fun fund. They’re called 365 Budgeting, which works over 12 months to set aside £668, and Emergency Fund which moves just £1 a day for you. (You can read more about these here.)

3. A contactless card that’s prepaid, comes with a mobile app, and helps you to not go overdrawn

The prepaid Mastercard® card you get with a U Account is great for carefree contactless spending, as it won’t let you spend more than you have (or charge you a fee for doing so).

It comes with an app (Balance+, it’s available on iOS and Android) so you can track your transactions when you’re out and about and keep an eye on your balance — even move some money in from your Emergency Fund if/when you’re looking short.

There’s also the categories and graphs in U Account’s Money Manager, which tracks your spending and shows you where you could cut down; U Points that earn you cashback on the high street; a two-minute application process that won’t subject you to a credit check; and aaaaall the other stuff you’d expect from a bank, like payments in and out and whatnot.

47% of adults said a tool that gave them full view of their finances would be useful to them

47% of adults can get one of those here if they like.