Squirrel - Worth it? or DIY?


(Micky) #1

So I saw a mention on Squirrel within this community a couple of days ago and after looking into it and about to start the trial I thought there must be way of reproducing this sort of system with a budget tool, separate accounts and some standing orders and save myself a few £££. I wanted to know if anyone has this type of setup already and there opinion on how well it works or is Squirrel worth the £4/month?

I have my main accounts which all my DDs go out of and I was thinking of creating several standing orders that push a weekly budgeted amount down to my Monzo account each week as well as diverting money into a number of flexible saving accounts which would act as pots. My main motivation is to save more, I feel I’m overspending and I want to have a better understanding/control of my money.


How does everyone manage their money?
Add Squirrel Functionality
(Gareth) #2

I do exactly this, with Monzo as the “spending” account. And it doesn’t cost me £48 a year. :smile:
Standing orders handle the monthly moves, timed so I can react if the wrong amount goes in/out.
An excel spreadsheet tracks bills and yearly/saving.
image


Add Squirrel Functionality
How does everyone manage their money?
Making Monzo Better: The Big List
(Simon Porter) #3

I’ve been on Squirrel for about 6 months now. I think you can replicate what they are doing manually using a separate account and/or pots.

It really depends on how badly you want to save that £4 a month. I would guess you would have to create a spreadsheet to keep track of commitments going out, what you can afford to save and split up the rest into weekly payments. Personally I’ve found that anything which involves such fiddly effort like this leads to failure.

I’ve tried many budgeting apps and tools, all requiring manual effort. I get lazy, fall behind or get bored. I’m sure there are people which have their lives in perfect order which stick to a budget they keep in a spreadsheet. I’m not one of those people. The £48 a year Squirrel costs is worth much more than that to me as I’ve saved £100s by having a working budget.

I also find I constantly adjust my budget in Squirrel. Changing savings goals to make sure I have enough of a weekly payout. Adding/removing commitments. This would be a nightmare if it was all in a spreadsheet.

Squirrel has changed my financial life.

PS Squirrel will be bringing interest to their savings pots this year. I’ve also heard that they plan to offer the ability to pay direct debits from Squirrel directly so the money doesn’t have to touch your current account.


(Gareth) #4

100% agree, doing it manually is very much a hassle to begin with; and requires general maintenance.


(Michael) #5

Have you tried YNAB simply for tracking budgets? How do the two compare?

Squirrel appears to work well to actually protect the funds for future bills, has it ever been late in transferring money?.

At the moment I do that by shoving all my bills against a separate bank account and just transferring money over to it each month.


#6

What really bothers me about this sort of thing, is the lack of FSCS protection. For any account that I want to use for more than a few bucks (and they encourage you to leave your savings in there!) this (or appropriate deposit protection in another EEA state) is an absolute must. (That’s why I keep no significant sums of money in my Revolut or PayPal accounts despite using both regularly - everything gets siphoned off almost immediately.)

Additionally, leaving FSCS protection aside, I would never leave any savings in a non-interest account. You can still get between 3-5% on your savings quite easily, which is better than nothing, and actually adds up quickly. (Although [just a little tip here] accounts that give cashback in some way or other can be more attractive for those not having several thousand pounds worth of savings.)

I do this sort of stuff semi-manually:

I use Wave accounting for categorising and keeping track of ALL our spending across our various current accounts and credit cards (between the two of us, there are now 12 accounts in total, so it would be a nightmare to keep these in order without a centralised record). You can connect your existing accounts, and then they’ll automatically import transactions, or you import CSVs if you don’t trust them (as I do).

I have a separate spreadsheet for budgeting, and once a month I sit down for a few minutes to reconcile it all, see how we performed relative to the budget, and make the appropriate transfers as needed. (Some accounts have minimum pay-ins, others have Direct Debits going out of them, etc.)

It helps that my wife is extremely disciplined and loves planning, but it still required between 10-30 minutes each month to ensure it’s all up to date.

If you have the discipline, it’s definitely doable, although the first few months will be tough, until you get into the rhythm.

Just my two cents, though…


(Izzy) #7

I think once the API allows you to move money between your CA account and your pots, it will be easy to set this up…


(Simon Porter) #8

I’ve used YNAB. It was one of my favourite budgeting apps. I preferred YNAB 3/4 to the online version they now have.

I think I got a good solid 3 or 4 months of budgeting perfectly from it. When you can keep up to date it works great. The thing that got tiresome was having to manually enter all my transactions. If I made a mistake and the balance was off then I’d have to spend ages double checking my entries. This is probably less of an issue in the USA where they can linkup to your bank.

The app for YNAB was nice, again though manually entering each transaction when I was out and about got tiresome. I did try keeping receipts and doing it later but some would get lost.

I’ve never had a single instance of Squirrel transferring money in late. If a payment falls on a weekend or bank holiday they always transfer it in on a working day before. The only exception to this the weekly spending money can end up being paid in after a bank holiday. I normally have to ask for it to be in the Friday before.

I’m looking forward to when I can pay bills directly from Squirrel as then my current account will just be purely spending money.


(Michael) #9

The online version has taken some getting used to.

It will sync with Natwest and Barclaycard, I’m not sure if they’ll soon support everything with Open Banking coming up though.

Future planning is harder now as it only budgets into future months with what you have now (expenditure is considered, but only current asset cash is available, future pay is ignored). I see why it makes sense for the age of money, but it can get awkward to plan 3-6 months ahead with the new structure.

I’m using Fintech-to-YNAB to keep my Monzo account in sync. It generally works okay, if you make multiple top-ups in the same day of the same value it gets confused, but it’s a fairly rare occurrence.

I’ll try giving Squirrel a go as it has 3 months free trial :smiley:


(Jamie 🏳️‍🌈) #10

I’d never pay anyone to send me back my own money every week. I do use a ‘piggy bank’- or ‘envelope’-type system to budget, though. And get paid to do it.

I’ve just added up the total I pay out by direct debit every month, and use a standing order to send this amount to NatWest and Barclays, from where my direct debits are paid. Combined, those banks pay me around £13 cashback per month simply for the pleasure of handling my direct debits for me.

I then send my monthly spending budget to :monzo: Monzo and the spending and targeting features do the job of the spreadsheet, so I don’t have to bother. I also send savings out to other accounts, and then save or spend any excess I have at the end of the month.

It’s not difficult. It’s as simple as a thumbprint on a few banking apps occasionally to check everything is in order.


(Kevyn) #11

This is pretty much how I set up my accounts except I don’t have the yearly holding account, paying back into the legacy account when needed, which could be an interesting addition to my portfolio.

I looked at Squirrel Christmas 2016, because I needed to start budgeting to save for a house, and used it as the base to set up a system like @garete . I saved £10,000 in 2017 (my salary is £30k) and never had any savings to my name before then. I hear good things about Squirrel, I just would rather do it myself.


(Michael) #12

That NatWest reward account will come with charges when you leave (I got charged over £10 when I left because the monthly fee was prorated. On top of that you loose access to any rewards you have built up and not cashed out yet. Local branch was useless too as they can’t access anything on a closed account.


(Jamie 🏳️‍🌈) #13

I don’t understand how you were charged £10 pro rata when the monthly fee is only £2.


(Michael) #14

I was on the next tier for the insurance stuff as it was cheaper than paying a separate company. The cashback rate used to be 3% so it still covered the monthly fee.

I was more annoyed that no-one could give me decent answers, even after writing various letters the closing charge was still ‘probably pro rata fees’ not definitely. It still feels like I’ve been fobbed off by them. I’m pretty sure I started getting charged the monthly fee from the month I started getting cashback too.

I haven’t had any luck getting a full statement from them either so I could prove otherwise. Makes me wish I had paper statements from them.


(Jamie 🏳️‍🌈) #15

Sounds standard to me. Pro rata means ‘in proportion’, so if you closed your account in mid-charging cycle, they would have charged you for the insurance benefits up to the point you closed your account - after all, your insurance was valid until you closed your account, so why shouldn’t they charge for it?


(Michael) #16

Yeah I understand pro rata (I work with various subscription websites at an agency).

That pro rata charge was on top of an extra account fee. Fee came out on the 5th, account was officially closed on the 28th. On that day there was 2 charges, the regular monthly fee, and the one due in the next month.

I’ve given up pursuing it because it takes up too much time chasing it. I’ve already saved more money than lost with it just by cutting back on things like dining out. I’m just surprised at the lack of the knowledge by staff about what the fee was for, the cashier even asked some other staff members who had no clue either.


(Kenneth C Lawrence) #17

Anyone really use this? I’m very tempted :joy:

Then again, I suppose four pots (week 1, 2, 3 and 4 could work too lol)


#18

It’s free for 3 months so might be worth a go and cancel if you don’t like it


(Kenneth C Lawrence) #19

Although no interest accrued, Squirrel have just gotten back to me about their protection as “The savings account is an E-Wallet hosted by Barclays. In the unlikely event that Barclays was to go bust, the FSCS protection would kick in. If anything similar were to happen to Squirrel or PFS, then Barclays would return any money held to customers.”


(Peter Roberts) #20

I have my own budgeting scheme I’m doing myself manually using Starling and Monzo :+1: