Money management is something many of us struggle with. A few years ago, I was looking to take control of my finances and decided to dig into all my statements. What I found was a hive of activity that I had no idea was going on and some spending habits that left me feeling a little ashamed.
The first issue I came across was that I had monthly outgoings that I’d completely forgotten about and no longer needed. Subscriptions to apps and software that I hadn’t touched in months, sometimes years, were continuing to lower my balance on a monthly basis.
In truth, most of these transactions were small amounts and that’s perhaps why I hadn’t noticed them. However, once I combined them together, I quickly noticed a much more substantial set of monthly outgoings.
The next problem I faced was admitting that I was reckless with my spending. I wasn’t going out buying big-ticket items every week, but I spent an eye-watering amount of money on things like coffee, delivery food, and Uber rides.
Ignoring my overspending for the time being, however, what it all came down to was that I had no control over my finances. I simply didn’t know when my bills were scheduled to leave my account, how much I was spending on debt repayments, or how much expendable cash I had in my account each month.
My solution was to create a spreadsheet that detailed all my monthly incomings and outgoings, how much money I was spending recreationally each week, and how much allowance I could give myself for food shopping and other essentials.
It works but it’s a constant battle to keep it updated and very time-consuming.
Emma is an open banking app with the purpose of helping people take control over their finances.
Emma works by collecting information from all your bank accounts, repayment accounts, and investments. Once you’ve given the app read-only access to your accounts, it tracks all your incomings and outgoings in real time, providing you with a constantly up to date picture of your financial situation.
How Do You Sign up for an Emma Account?
Once you’ve downloaded the Emma app on either iOS or Android, you link your accounts to the app by logging in to them as you usually would for online banking.
Is Emma Safe to Use?
Understandably, security is the biggest concern with an app like Emma. After all, we’re constantly told never to hand over our details to third parties. However, when you log in to your accounts through Emma, all you’re doing is giving them read-only access much in the same way self employed workers use FreeAgent to pull in their banking statements. What this means is that the app can see your transactions and statements but cannot make any transactions.
The Benefits of Emma
What you get out of Emma depends on what you’re looking for. For some, simply having updates on daily spending will help with money management across the month. For others, being able to see when debt repayments are leaving the account will help with budgeting.
Nevertheless, here’s a more detailed breakdown of the features you’ll have access to with Emma:
Budgets allow you to take control over what you’re spending your money on each month.
Once you’ve set everything up, you can add budgets for all kinds of things. For example, you can budget for weekly groceries, transport, entertaining, holiday savings, takeaway food, weekend beers, and anything else you can think of.
Emma will analyse your statements and tell you how much you’re spending on these things on average each month. You can then decide to set a custom budget for each item and Emma will keep you updated with how you’re getting on. For example, if you’ve set a weekly budget of £70 for groceries and you spend £75, Emma will let you know that you’ve overspent your budget.
Weekly or monthly reports will be sent to you that detail how you’ve been getting on over that specific period. Not only will these reports keep you up to date with your current financial situation, but they can also help to alter spending behaviour. If you’ve overspent on your budgets, Emma will tell you that you need to cut back. Likewise, if you’re within your budgets, you’ll get a nice pat on the back to keep you motivated to continue.
As with reports, balance updates are a great way to know how you’re getting on at regular intervals. You can request a daily balance update that will inform you of your balances on every linked account. More information tends to lead to better money management.
Free Account vs Emma Pro
The great news is that everyone can sign up for a free account. Emma doesn’t share your data with any third parties, received read-only access, has bank-grade encryption, and is FCA and ICO registered.
Emma generates income through users who opt to pay a subscription fee to access Emma Pro. With this version of the app, users have access to more features such as custom categories, data exportation, transaction renaming, and more.
One final benefit of Emma is the access users are provided to rewards. What this means is that you’ll see offers for products and services through which you can earn cash rewards. Emma received no affiliate commission for these offers.
You can currently link Emma to the following accounts:
The Co-operative Bank
Bank of Scotland
All in all, Emma is a great app for anyone looking to take control of their finances. Whether you want to be kept in the loop with daily updates or want to make a committed effort to budget more efficiently, it seems a no-brainer to make use of the free features that Emma has to offer. If you like what you see, there’s always Emma Pro for even more control.