The thought of an expensive December got you down? With the right apps, it's easy to keep your finances in check well into the New Year...

Mince pies, tinsel, and decade-old classics on Spotify; it can mean only one thing: it’s Christmas! It’s a special time of year, but costs can soon mount up – especially with the January payday so very far away. Don’t panic, though: banking doesn’t have to be a bind if you’ve got the right apps loaded onto your smartphone.

If you’re looking for ways to better control your money this month and well into next year, we’re here to help. Here’s our pick of the best budgeting apps for 2018/19, from Google Play and the App Store…

Monefy | Android, iOS, FREE + IAP

Unless you’re blessed with hyperthymesia (the ability to remember pretty much everything), relying on memory alone is a sure-fire way to lose track of your expenses. Thankfully, there are apps to help you keep tabs on the month’s many outgoings, like Monefy.

Once you’ve told Monefy how much money you have coming in, you just need to tap on one of its category icons (groceries, transport, gifts, etc.) each and every time you make a purchase. From there, whack in how much you’ve spent and the app will subtract it from your monthly total; you’ll then be able to see what state your finances are in on a colourful, easy-to-follow chart.

Wallet – Finance Tracker and Budget Planner | Android, iOS, FREE + IAP

Much like Monefy, Wallet tracks the cash coming in and going out of your accounts, but with one smart addition: Bank Connections. What does that mean? Information beamed live from your current and savings accounts. Ka-ching!

Providing you’ve got an account with one of the 4,000 participating banks, any transactions – from card payments to direct debits – will be automatically added into Wallet and categorised. If you’ve bought something using cash, you need to add it in manually.

Knowing what’s coming in and out – and being able to categorise the two right from your phone – is super-helpful, especially when you’re having a ‘should I or shouldn’t I?’ Christmas shopping moment.

Money Dashboard | Android, iOS, FREE

Another smart option, this award-winning budget planner helps you track your spending and income across your current, credit card, and savings accounts, with support for all major UK banks. All your transactions are automatically and cleverly categorised, with Money Dashboard knowing the difference between groceries and your electricity bill, and tagging everything up appropriately.

The app’s doughnut chart makes it clear where your money’s being spent, with the handy ‘Balance Compare’ section showing what state your accounts were in on this time last month – great for spotting when you need to slow down your spending.

Loot – Digital Current Account | Android, iOS, FREE

This one’s a little different to the others listed above, in that it’s an actual bank account, but Loot deserves a spot on this list because it aims to help you manage your money better. And of course, its accompanying app plays a massive role in that. Create a Loot account and add some funds, and within a week you’ll receive a contactless Mastercard that you can use as is, or add to Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Set a daily budget and Loot will remind you of it every time you spend, but the real bonus here is the ability to monitor your transactions with real-time balance updates and instant push notifications; you’ll see the details of everything you spend right on your phone, with smart categorisation. Loot is joined in this space by the likes of Monzo and Starling, and they’re all solid options when it comes to modern, app-based banking.

The Christmas List | iOS, £2.99

As a rule of thumb, the best way to keep spending under control is to make a list of your necessary purchases – and stick to it! At its core, The Christmas List is a gift-buying organiser that encourages you to jot down what you want to buy each of your loved ones, but with some handy digital extras thrown in for good measure.

One massively helpful feature, for example, is the ability to set a budget per person, so you know exactly how much you’ll have spent by the time you’re done and dusted, while you’ll also have the ability to mark items as purchased, delivered, and wrapped as you get things sorted. Simple, robust, and festive: that makes it a must-have in our books.

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