A great app will keep you glued to your device. Whether it’s lifestyle, social media, utility, gaming, productivity or news; apps are an essential part of student life.
Each month we challenge our Student Digital Champions to delve into a new category, delivering fresh perspectives and making proclamations for essential applications. Which features are dumb? What should be at the tip of your thumb?
Written by Polly Davis and Kexin Li
September 2022 – Utility
There is a palpable buzz around campus. Each year we welcome new students. But this will be the first cohort of freshers to arrive unrestricted since 2019.
For many this will be the first time living away from home, staying in shared accommodation and manging their own finances. Sadly, no-one has invented an app which can end an energy crisis or divert a recession (to my knowledge), but these utility apps could make your University journey a little easier.
Monzo is my main form of payment in university, and I’ll tell you why. Each week, from my student bank account, I load a set amount onto my Monzo debit account to cover bills, grocery shopping, and socialising and this is facilitated by Monzo’s pots. These pots are where you can separate your money into different functions and withdraw money from them when needed, to help you save and budget if you’re like me and cannot stop tapping your card wherever you go. Even further, after each payment, you get to select what that spend was on to summarise in a weekly report- this visualisation of trends helps me organise my spending massively. Another feature which I am grateful for is the Coin Jar; provided by Paragon, this pot rounds up your payments to the nearest pound, and the money is saved into a pot. When money starts to get tight by the end of the week, you will find that these round-ups have amounted to a fair bit of extra money that can help you by.
When it comes to eating and drinking out with your friends, it can always get a bit awkward and tense splitting the bills and then chasing people for money. With Monzo’s ‘Split the bill’ feature, you can enter the total amount of the bill, add friends to the feature and set the amounts each will pay or split equally, and Monzo will let you know when it has all been covered- hassle free! Monzo currently have a joining offer with a free £5 spend when you make your first card payment in the first 30 days.
You may have heard of other bank accounts that have similar features. Starling Bank, rated at the same service level as Monzo, also provides visual saving spaces, categorised spending and ‘split the bill’ features. Nevertheless, Starling also provides you with a budget planner to help give an overview of your own finances. Once you have provided information of any income and transaction history, Starling Bank will calculate your average outgoings and what they are divided into. You can set your own saving and spending goals, and they will direct you to money management support if they detect that you are overspending.
During a cost-of-living crisis this year, this type of financial guidance can make you feel more in control as a student.
Reviewer: Polly Davis
Acasa is an app designed for shared households to set up, manage, and split the household bills in a streamlined way. This app can easily help students to keep track of all the expenses in your house such as utilities, internet, home maintenance, food and groceries, and record who should pay the bills and who has paid the bills. It is an effective helper for students to rent a house together, and it can eliminate the complicated process of paying various bills and effectively avoid misunderstanding and disputes related to paying bills. Acasa helps students automatically calculate their share of each bill, and they can pay off all their bill obligations only once a month. This app has a dashboard interface that clearly shows the income and expenditure between each other, making the complex and troublesome problem of paying common bills simple and clear.
- Automatically help everyone in the house calculate their accounts payable
- Avoid the embarrassment of debt collection
- Other payments can be included in addition to household bills
- This app is free for users
- Some users commented that this app is unorganised and hard to navigate
- Customer service is appalling and inefficient
- Costs may occur for additional services
- The dashboard design may confuse the people who are splitting the bills, and incorrect calculations may occur
Reviewer: Kexin Li
Please be aware that hidden costs have been discovered in some bill-splitting apps.
As one door closes, another opens. On behalf of the Digital Education Office, I want to thank the outgoing Student Digital Champions: Leah Parker, Georgie Pitts, Kexin Li, Polly Davis, Olivia Muggleton and Amy Preston for writing wonderfully engaging Appinion reviews. If you are interested in applying to be a Student Digital Champion, subscribe to this blog so you always see the latest recruitment news.
These apps aren’t supported or managed by the University of Bristol. Don’t forget to think about what data you are adding to these apps if you decide to download and use them. Our Online Identity video highlights some of the factors you may want to think about when you are online.