How I Track My Expenses

Expense Tracking

At the beginning of this year I set a goal to start tracking my expenses more consistently. I did track my expenses on and off last year but I found it difficult to stay motivated and do it consistently day after day.

When I decided to set this goal I also started to test out a few apps that can help me do this. Last year I was using the TrackMySpend app by MoneySmart which is a very simple app that requires you to manually enter every expense. The app also provides a monthly summary of all your expenses broken down by category.

I did find manually entering every expense to be a bit tedious at times so I thought I would look at what other apps were out there.

I tried out Pocketbook which is a popular app here in Australia. The app allows you to link to your bank accounts, hence you don’t need to manually enter all your expenses, except for cash expenses.

The only thing I didn’t like about Pocketbook is that when transactions don’t go through on the day you actually spent the money, this data is not translated how I like in the app. For example, if I buy my groceries on a Saturday the transaction may not go through till the following Monday, so the app shows the expense as though I bought my groceries on the Monday which isn’t accurate. Some might argue that the actual day the money comes out is what matters, however if you buy something on the last day of the month but it doesn’t go through straight away, it looks like it’s an expense for the following month.

Anyways this was a small quirk that I didn’t like about these automated apps. I tested out a few more apps such as HomeBudget but none of them did what I was looking for so I ended up coming back to the TrackMySpend app.

When I first started using the TrackMySpend app last year I wasn’t consistent with it so that was a worry. I knew I needed to come up with new a routine that would work for me if I were to start using this app again. Hence, I decided to set a reminder on my phone to go off every night to remind me to enter all my expenses for the day. My routine goes something like this:

  1. Reminder goes off on my phone at 9pm every night
  2. Login to my bank account and check what transactions have been made and enter them into the app
  3. Enter any cash expenses I made during the day into the app
  4. Ask my husband if he had any cash expenses during the day and enter them into the app
  5. Once I am happy that all expenses have been entered into the app, mark the reminder on my phone as complete

This little routine has worked like a charm since I started it at the beginning of the year. I love reminders, they have really helped me become more organised in my life.

TrackMySpend App by MoneySmart

The TrackMySpend app

Although the TrackMySpend app does require discipline and effort on my part, I have found it be easy to use and most importantly it does what I need. It does have a few quirks such as the summary screens don’t always scroll all the way down and expenses grouped by a tag show duplicates. I’m hoping that these issues will get fixed one day, but the core parts of the app work well so I am happy to continue using it.

How do you track your expenses?

Images: (phonenomena.com.auitunes.apple.com)

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6 thoughts on “How I Track My Expenses

  1. Thanks for sharing your methods LWL. It’s cool that there are apps out there that do this, as well as ones like YNAB. At the moment we track using our bank’s expense tracker (which is free), as well as the occasional Excel. Maybe we should start comparing how we do against our budget.

    Tristan

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    • Our bank has expense tracker too but I didn’t look into it too much. I did initially categories a few things but it was taking so long that I gave up lol. We don’t have a budget per se, I just monitor our expenses so that I know where the money is going. Of course it’s always good to compare against a budget if you have one.

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  2. I really enjoy using Personal Capital to track my expenses. I also love their analysis when it comes to investments. I’ve tried a couple of the other apps but bottom line I’m pretty lazy and hate having to manually enter anything. This is also why I basically pay with a credit card so I don’t have to worry about tracking cash.

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    • I don’t think we have personal capital here in Australia. I get pretty lazy too, I’m actually surprised at how consistent I have been with the manual tracking so far lol. I use eftpos/credit card whenever possible as well as it’s easy to forget cash expenses. But there are still stores who either only accept cash or have minimums for using a card which is annoying.

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  3. Thankfully my bank has awesome online banking with built in tracking! Otherwise I just wouldn’t do it.

    Am now looking for an easy way to track net worth – doesn’t look like there is one! Personal Capital I assume doesn’t plug into NZ institutions…

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    • My bank has built in tracking too but the last time I looked at it I had to categorise a bunch of expenses and I gave up after about 10min lol. I should revisit it again some day.
      I track net worth manually in a spreadsheet. It’s not as time consuming as it’s less fields to update and I don’t do it every month either.

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