A handy digital banking tool to keep tabs on your spending

Digital banking app “B” could be a very handy money management tool. But the accompanying bank accounts are nothing to write home about.


Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank's "B"could prove very useful

Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank, the two high-street banking brands of the recently floated CYBG plc, have launched what they call a "new digital banking service" B that they hope will help them take on the bigger players.

It is, in effect, a smartphone and tablet app, backed by a current account and a savings account.

"So what?" you may ask. "My bank already has an app."

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Well, yes. But this one aims to do more than just let you see your balance and set up standing orders. According to the press release, it "takes its inspiration from the very best lifestyle and health apps rather than the more sterile fare on offer from the traditional banking sector."

What it actually aims to do is help you keep track of your spending rather better than any other bank's app. First, it claims to provide a "real time" balance. Even if you think you've written it all down, saved all your receipts, or for the more 21st century among us entered your transaction onto your budgeting app on your smartphone, the rise of contactless payments enables you to spend tiny amounts of money at the wave of a wallet, often not even receiving a receipt for your trouble. It's becoming ever more difficult to know exactly how much you've spent.

"B"automatically tags your debit card transactions into categories, and you can add your own custom tags too, so you can see exactly what you've spent on beer, coffee or sandwiches. You can set budgets for each category, and it learns how much you tend to spend on what. Your level of comfort about that will depend on how happy you are with your bank app badgering you to stop spending so much on Amazon, or to stay away from the pub for the rest of the month.

It can warn you if it thinks you're going to run out of money before the end of the month, or if you're likely to have any left over.

It's an intriguing sounding proposition, and since the only way to really keep on top of your finances, especially if money's a little tight, is to know exactly what's coming in and what's going out, it could prove to be a very useful little app indeed.

There is a catch however. It'll cost you. It's free for the first year, but after that it will set you back £2 a month.

And unfortunately, the accompanying bank accounts are fairly bog standard. The current account offers 0.5% interest on balances up to £2,000, but nothing on any amount over that. That's nowhere near the best buy, which currently is TSB's Classic Plus, which offers 5% on up to £2,000. The savings account fares a little better, offering 1% interest. You can offset your mortgage against both accounts.

You can find out more atyouandb.co.uk.

Ben Judge

Ben studied modern languages at London University's Queen Mary College. After dabbling unhappily in local government finance for a while, he went to work for The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh. The launch of the paper's website, scotsman.com, in the early years of the dotcom craze, saw Ben move online to manage the Business and Motors channels before becoming deputy editor with responsibility for all aspects of online production for The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News websites, along with the papers' Edinburgh Festivals website.

Ben joined MoneyWeek as website editor in 2008, just as the Great Financial Crisis was brewing. He has written extensively for the website and magazine, with a particular emphasis on alternative finance and fintech, including blockchain and bitcoin. As an early adopter of bitcoin, Ben bought when the price was under $200, but went on to spend it all on foolish fripperies.