How often do you run out of money before payday? I’ve been there. You probably start the month with good intentions. Perhaps you’re planning to give up takeaways, buy fewer clothes or drink a bit less on nights out. Maybe you’re vowing to put money in a savings account or a Help to Buy ISA at the end of the month. But before you know it, you’ve got a week until payday and you’re wondering if the money left in your account will even stretch to cover your bus pass and a loaf of Warburtons Toastie. You’re still no closer to building up an emergency fund or buying that beautiful two bedroom house in Brighton.
Where is your money going?
If you want to save money, whether you’re hoping to buy your own home, get out of debt, travel the world or quit your job and start your own business, the first thing you need to do is track your spending so that you know exactly where your money is going.
It’s easy to blame your lack of money on rent and bills and other essential life expenses but I bet a decent percentage of your income is going elsewhere.
In April last year I spent a whole month tracking my spending to figure out why my money was evaporating into thin air. I was shooketh at the results. Sorry – I really like that word at the moment. Looking over the notebook where I’d tracked my spending, I realised that most of my money was being spent on meals out and junk food. Two things which, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t a big priority for me.
Starling Bank – a smarter way to track your spending
Tracking my spending in a notebook was a monotonous process, so imagine my delight when Starling Bank got in touch to tell me about their mobile-only bank that tracks everything you spend and gives you real-time updates of your purchases.
As the tweet below shows, within hours of using the app, I felt like my eyes had been opened. I can’t believe how much I’ve been spending on casual after-work drinks on Fridays.
— Jenni Hill ???????????????? (@CantSwingACat) August 4, 2017
How Starling Bank works
Here’s a rundown of how Starling Bank works and what makes it so great.
Manage everything from your mobile
One thing that makes Starling Bank so special is that it enables you to manage your account entirely from your mobile. There’s no need to pop into branches, spend hours on the phone to busy call centres or shred the relentless flood of documents ordinary banks push through your door.
Track every purchase with real-time updates
Starling Bank tracks your spending and every time you make a purchase, you’ll get a little update on your phone within a matter of seconds. Take a look at the screenshot below (try not to stare longingly at my cute dog for the next 10 minutes) and you’ll see one of Starling Bank’s real-time updates reminding me just how much my drink in Seven Brothers Beerhouse costed.
You can use Starling Bank just like any other bank account
Just like you would with any other current account, you can have your salary paid into Starling Bank and you can set up direct debits and standing orders from it. Switching can be done with ease from your phone.
I decided to keep my existing current account as it is and I now transfer a lump sum into Starling each month to be used as ‘fun money’. This covers snacks, meals out, nights out, and any other non-essentials. It’s all about finding what works best for you.
Using your Starling Bank debit card
You’ll get a Starling Bank debit card and this can be used just like any other. So whether you’re doing your weekly big shop, having a meal for a friend’s birthday, or knocking back cocktails on a work night out, you can use Starling anywhere that accepts card. You can also use it to withdraw money from cash machines.
Look back over your spending and identify ways to cut back
After I spent so much money on what was meant to be ‘one drink’ in Seven Brothers, I decided to try and cut back over the following days. I managed to have a cheap weekend but the purchases in Sainsbury’s, One Stop and Morrisons (pictured below) could have been avoided with a little forward planning and preparation. Lesson learned.
Travelling with Starling
Starling is a fantastic asset to have when travelling. You can use your card anywhere in the world and the best part is, you won’t have to pay any charges or fees!
Transferring money effortlessly
Another cool thing you can do is transfer money from other accounts into your Starling bank account using the app. This takes a matter of seconds to do.
Let’s imagine I want to use Starling to pay for a spur-of-the-moment shopping trip but when I open the app I realise I only have £4.50 left in my account. All I need to do is scan the card I want to withdraw money from or enter the card details manually.
Most banks require you to log into the account the money’s coming from (rather than the account it’s going to) in order to do this.
Visit the website to learn more about Starling’s features.
Why the benefits of Starling Bank outweigh higher interest elsewhere
Starling Bank pays interest at 0.5% AER on balances up to £2,000 and 0.25% on balances between £2,000 and £85,000. Although this interest rate isn’t as high as some other current accounts at the moment, I honestly think that you could save more with Starling Bank than you’ll earn in interest elsewhere.
For example, let’s imagine you hold a current account with a regular high street bank and earn £5 a month in interest. Unless you run a tight budget and you know where every penny goes, you’re gonna be flittering away way more than £5 a month on stuff that doesn’t really matter to you.
I’m not saying banking interest is unimportant – I’ve written countless posts telling you to make the most of it – but if your spending is an issue and you’re wasting money on things that don’t spark joy, it’s worth addressing this rather than making interest your primary focus.
How safe is my money?
In this fintech-obsessed age where we’re increasingly likely to manage our finances online, you’re right to be concerned about the security of your money. Thankfully, Starling Bank is taking every precaution to protect your money and data. The Starling team have created this really helpful security guide outlining the measures they take to keep everything secure while also sharing a few extra layers of security you can add yourself.
Here are a few key points:
How is Starling Regulated?
Starling Bank is authorised and regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Your Starling Bank account is also protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). In the unlikely event that the bank were to become insolvent, your money within the account is protected up to £85,000.
What happens if I lose my debit card?
If you were to lose your card, you can use your phone to place a block on it and prevent transactions. This protects your card until you’re able to get in touch with the bank and request a replacement.
What happens if I lose my phone?
You’re encouraged to set an application passcode to gain access to the Starling Bank app. So if you were to lose your phone, anyone who found it would need the passcode to access your account. You can also contact Starling Bank and ask for your phone’s access to the app to be revoked.
Your Starling account can only be accessed by one device. If someone was to try and log into your account from another mobile, they’d need to undergo Starling’s verification process before access was given. Getting a new phone? Get in touch with Starling and they’ll help you add the app to your new device.
Keen to give Starling a try? The signup process is quick and easy to complete and you can download the app to any iPhone or Android device. Since Starling Bank is in high demand right now, they have a bit of a queue for new signups, but if you use the code SWINGCAT when registering, you can skip the queue!
This post was created in collaboration with Starling Bank but, as always, all opinions are my own.