If you’re not interested in tracking your spending using a spreadsheet, then using a budgeting and spend tracking app such as Money Dashboard is an easy way to automate this task. There are plenty of alternatives though, so is Money Dashboard worth it? Welcome to my Money Dashboard review…
- What is Money Dashboard?
- What is Open Banking?
- What are Money Dashboard’s main features?
- What are the advantages of Money Dashboard?
- What are the negatives of Money Dashboard?
- What banks is it compatible with?
- What investment accounts is it compatible with?
- Is Money Dashboard safe and secure?
- How does Money Dashboard make money?
- What is Money Dashboard best used for?
- How should Money Dashboard fit into your personal finance system?
- What are people saying about the Money Dashboard app?
- How do I get it?
- My verdict
What is Money Dashboard?
Money Dashboard is one of the UKs leading fintech companies, and has won the 2018 British Bank award for best personal finance app.
The app boasts over 500,000 users and is available online (as a web app), on iOS and on Android.
In early 2020 they completely redesigned their platform, introducing their new version of the app which uses Open Banking. This new version was originally branded “Money Dashboard Neon”. The old version is now branded as “Money Dashboard Classic” however is going to continue to be supported. This article will look at the new app for my Money Dashboard review.
If you have a classic Money Dashboard account, read more about the changes on their website here.
What powers Money Dashboard?
The Money Dashboard app uses the Open Banking API in order to access your data. Open Banking is a fairly recent development in the UK, allowing new financial technology company’s like Money Dashboard to provide services to the likes of you or me.
It puts you in control of your data, rather than it remaining under the control of your primary bank. This gives you the ability to specify who you provide access to your financial data.
The idea behind Open Banking is to encourage more competition and better services from financial services providers.
For more information on Open Banking, this guide/explainer from Money Saving Expert is very useful.
What are Money Dashboard’s main features?
Connecting your accounts
This is really the bread and butter of these types of apps and nothing to write home about.
You can connect most banking and credit card accounts, and see all of your transactions in one place to see a complete picture of your personal finances.
Money Dashboard has an extensive list of the banks you can connect with, but you also have the ability to add manual accounts/balances. This is super helpful to add any investment/savings/loan accounts that you can’t connect automatically, which will give you a more accurate view of your net worth picture.
Balance after bills
This is a fantastic feature, especially if you don’t currently use a budgeting system that you’re confident in.
You are able to specify your expected budget for variable/discretionary spend on buckets such as “Food”, “Transport” and “Entertainment” and Money Dashboard will predict how much money you’ll have left (or your shortfall) at the end of the month (or until your next payday).
You’re able to specify your budget for different categories and track spend against them. Even though it is not clear initially how to do it, you are able to create custom categories too (to create a new custom category, follow these instructions).
Whilst setting them, Money Dashboard will provide you with some insight on your average monthly spend which will help you when setting them.
Remember though, your historic average spend is only one benchmark you can use to set your budgets. However, if you have a lot of wasteful spend then you’ll be setting a budget that is too high. So try to challenge yourself with the budgets that you do set, whilst keeping them realistic.
It would be brilliant if Money Dashboard provided more insight or external benchmarks at this stage. Such as the ability to provide the average spend for someone in your position for the category you have selected i.e using all the data they have to provide you the monthly average spend of its users on “Groceries” who are in a similar area, or income bracket, or age etc. One to take note Money Dashboard team!
As you spend, your transactions will be categorised based on their algorithm. You have the ability to override this and to change the rules for all future transactions so it can be set up how you like.
What are the advantages of Money Dashboard?
Balance after bills
This feature is not available in other apps such as Emma or Yolt, so a big tick from me. It really simplifies your finances and gives you a snapshot of how you’re looking.
Has a web app version
This is great for convenience and means you can access your dashboard on your laptop or desktop, not just on your phone. This also comes with additional advantages such as better trend analysis (spend over time) as well as some handy pie charts so you can see visually which categories are taking up the bulk of your spending.
Can create offline accounts for free
You can easily create offline accounts in your “account” section. This can be used to track balances in your investment accounts or any debt balances that can’t be connected automatically to Money Dashboard.
Can export transactions for free
Using the web app, you can export your transactions to CSV for free in case you wanted to run some manual analysis.
This is a useful feature as saves you time downloading statements from each and every separate bank account you have.
What are the negatives of Money Dashboard?
Analytics through time on app
Even though the data is available to find out your spending each month, I found it frustrating to navigate back to previous months.
On the “Overview” screen, you need to scroll to the left on the top chart to move back through the months but it seems to jump around and without any titles hinting at the month you’re landing on until you’ve let it load, it can be a painful process.
However, note that on the web app version you can easily view trend analysis – a really nice feature.
Slow to change categories
To change a category on a transaction, it requires 4 steps. If you need to update a lot of transactions then this can take a lot of time.
However, it is a breeze to update transactions from the same vendor as you can bulk update them. It is only an issue if needing to update transactions from many different vendors.
Need to manually track your net worth
Now granted, they’re not billing it as a net worth tracker. But it would be nice to see your net worth balance over time as you see the benefit of your diligent budgeting and saving.
The great thing is that you can add offline accounts. This will allow you to enter any accounts that can’t be connected automatically, to get a full picture of your net worth. This would be amazing if it was automated though, but to be fair to Money Dashboard this is due to the financial institutions not sharing their data.
Accessing your budgets not immediately clear
The settings to view, track and change your budgets are not immediately clear. You either need to press the “Spending Plan” section at the top or the big + in the middle of the menu to add a budget.
It would be beneficial if this was placed more front and centre.
What banks is it compatible with?
The app is compatible with over 40 UK banks, of which you can find a full list on their website here. Money Dashboard uses the Open Banking API, so is reliant on the banks to have this enabled.
This includes the large high street banks like Lloyds, Natwest, RBS, Halifax, HSBC and Barclays. As well as their newer banking rivals such as Monzo and Starling Bank.
What investment accounts is it compatible with?
As they are reliant on the Open Banking API, most banks and credit card companies are included, but not all investment companies are on board with it just yet.
The investment accounts that can be connected are (at time of writing):
Is Money Dashboard safe and secure?
Money Dashboard uses the Open Banking API to connect to your banking providers, which means that you never have to share credentials with a 3rd party such as Money Dashboard.
They are FCA authorised and regulated and operate bank-level security which is routinely inspected, tested and audited by qualified security and data specialists.
How does Money Dashboard make money?
The app and service is free to use and has no premium feature set unlike competitors like Emma. Money Dashboard make money via the following avenues:
- Providing insight/market research data to other companies based on aggregated and anonymised user information
- They may also offer suggestions for products such as loans, credit cards or insurance providers that can help save you money. If you take one of these, Money Dashboard may receive a commission from the provider.
What is Money Dashboard best used for?
If you don’t currently have a system set up that keeps you sticking to your budget (such as the envelope method which I use which you can read more about here), then this app is for you.
Because it forecasts how much money you’ll have left until payday, you can easily see at a glance whether you have money or not whenever you’re tempted to splurge.
How should Money Dashboard fit into your personal finance system?
This is a super useful tool for either people who want to effectively track their spending or don’t currently have a method that enables them to stick to their budget effectively.
The spending plan feature which predicts how much money you’ll have left by payday means that it will always give you a decent snapshot of your financial position.
What are people saying about the Money Dashboard app?
A lot of the reviews in 2020 are relating to people unhappy with the change from Money Dashboard Classic to the new Money Dashboard Neon app, which I have reviewed above. This is mainly due to the inability to import their category setup and some features that have been changed.
The app is reviewed as 3.2/5 on Trustpilot as at mid November 2020. Lots of the reviews in 2020 are coming from disgruntled users who have been using the classic version and have not been pleased with the new Neon app.
On the Google Play Store, it is rated 3.6/5 by 279 reviews and on the App Store on iOS it is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 302 reviews.
How do I get it?
You can sign up on their website, or by downloading the app on the Play Store or App Store.
A neat personal finance app that provides some useful features for you to manage your money.
If you haven’t already got a budget in place, this will enable you to take strides in getting on top of your money and will give you easy insight via their spending plan feature.
If you do already have a budget, then their spend tracking is useful. In their web app, you can view more thorough analysis using visualisations such as pie charts and histograms which you can’t get in the iOS/Android versions.
One thing to note is that Money Dashboard uses its users’ financial spending data to provide insight and analysis for third parties (i.e they sell your data). This is all anonymised and aggregated, but some people will find this uncomfortable. Both of Money Dashboard’s competitors, Emma and Yolt, do not engage in this as a revenue driver.
Overall, a strong personal finance app and one I would heartily recommend. Overall, my Money Dashboard review verdict is a 4* rating.
Other article you might find useful:
So there we have it, my Money Dashboard review! Have you used Money Dashboard Neon? I would love to hear your own Money Dashboard app review, so drop your thoughts in the comments below!
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