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Budgeting Software
Old 07-02-2019, 01:51 PM   #1
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Budgeting Software

Hi All -

Looking for recommendations on software to track and categorize spending. Ideally something that we could download statements on checking and credit card accounts and would auto-categorize line items automatically (based on me teaching it what certain expenses are). Did it once a couple years ago into an excel spreadsheet, but it was painful.

Anyone have experience using YNAB (You Need A Budget) or something similar?

Had a go at searching for old threads but aside from some commenting on Quicken or Money, I didn't see much but if anyone remembers a thread and can point me to it that would be appreciated as well.

Thanks -
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Old 07-02-2019, 01:56 PM   #2
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Quicken does appear to be the leader in this space, however, many are upset on the pricing going to a subscription service. If you’re not concerned about that I think many would recommend Quicken. I’ve been using it for decades and it works very well, but I’m in the camp that will not pay for a subscription service unless I have to. Currently, I do not use it to download transactions, so I’m sticking with my 2016 version as long as I can. If it was truly important for me to download transactions, I would give Quicken serious consideration.
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Old 07-02-2019, 01:59 PM   #3
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Quite a few of us use Moneydance.

I've used it exclusively for nearly eight years and I'm very satisfied. It has a few quirks and a bit of a learning curve, but works very well once you get used to it. There is also good support for questions and problems if you have any.
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Old 07-02-2019, 02:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
Hi All -

Looking for recommendations on software to track and categorize spending. Ideally something that we could download statements on checking and credit card accounts and would auto-categorize line items automatically (based on me teaching it what certain expenses are). Did it once a couple years ago into an excel spreadsheet, but it was painful.

Anyone have experience using YNAB (You Need A Budget) or something similar?

Had a go at searching for old threads but aside from some commenting on Quicken or Money, I didn't see much but if anyone remembers a thread and can point me to it that would be appreciated as well.

Thanks -
Have you looked at MINT? It's free, and run by Intuit. It's an account aggregator. It automatically pulls all transactions from every account you link (checking, savings, credit cards, brokerage firms, etc.). It then categorizes each transaction automatically (although you may have to adjust some mischaracterized tranactions). I really like it, and although it's far from perfect, it allows me to see everything with one login.
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Old 07-02-2019, 03:29 PM   #5
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Personal Capital is free and tracks and let's you categorize expenses. That said, I think their focus is really investment tracking.

Mint and Hello Wallet are both good for tracking spending and I believe are still free.

I'm a Quicken groupie, so to me nothing compares. I hate paying for it though. Necessary evil, I guess.
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Old 07-02-2019, 03:43 PM   #6
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Just found this: https://clubthrifty.com/mint-com-alternatives/

And Hello Wallet is $8.95 a month now. Ouch!
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Old 07-02-2019, 10:11 PM   #7
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i've been usung Quicken forever. not happy about the subscription model but not enough to seek an alternative. and i don't download as i use custom categories. still worthwhile. $83 for 24-mos or about $.11 per day.
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Old 07-02-2019, 10:42 PM   #8
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I do use YNAB. It has some features that I don't like but for tracking spending and budgeting I find it the best. Note that it is a subscription.
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Old 07-04-2019, 05:18 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by HNL Bill View Post
Have you looked at MINT? It's free, and run by Intuit. It's an account aggregator. It automatically pulls all transactions from every account you link (checking, savings, credit cards, brokerage firms, etc.). It then categorizes each transaction automatically (although you may have to adjust some mischaracterized tranactions). I really like it, and although it's far from perfect, it allows me to see everything with one login.

Agreed on the “far from perfect”. As a finance person I find it to be barely adequate. As you say however it is free.

I use it in conjunction with my own Excel spreadsheet which I populate with monthly downloads from my bank. I’ve built it to give me line item financial statements with budget vs actual, for both current month and calendar year to date.

I added a selector to switch between months so I can follow variances over the months of the year. My spreadsheet basically does what I wish Mint would do. But since Mint doesn’t, I had to build it myself...
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Old 07-04-2019, 06:00 AM   #10
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Long time Quicken user here. Still the most comprehensive / complete solution I've found, although like most the move to a subscription vs. one-time purchase model doesn't sit well with me..I've kept Quicken 2017 for that reason and will use it as long as I'm able to..
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Old 07-04-2019, 06:39 AM   #11
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My 20-something kids use YNAB and Mint. I think those work well for young people who are really trying to get a handle on spending and maximize savings.

Personal Capital will categorize actual expenses but IIRC it has no budgeting functionality. It seems to be more geared toward investment tracking, analysis, and retirement planning... and generating leads for their advisory service.

I'm one of those who dumped Quicken many years ago when they switched to subscription pricing. I couldn't believe that they disabled the download functionality in my existing software. Plus, I got tired of workarounds for bugs that they never fixed, especially in the budgeting and cashflow sections.

Since retiring 6 years ago, I mainly use Excel for everything. I've used Personal Capital and Fidelity Full View, but they both have issues, mainly related to unreliable connections to my financial institutions.

Also, I've found that I don't really get much value from analyzing spending by category. We've transitioned from LBYM to BTD (Blow that Dough). Our baseline, non-discretionary spending is pretty-well set and I monitor things online every couple days. Discretionary spend for travel, home improvements, and other large purchases is something DW and I discuss in great detail every year.

I still do a fairly detailed annual analysis of spending, but at this point I'm more concerned with the total than by-category. Monthly tracking is not very meaningful for us because of so many large items we pay annually (property tax, insurance) as well as the timing of discretionary spend, which is about 35-40% of the total.
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Old 07-04-2019, 08:12 AM   #12
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I've been using Mint for 5ish years.
It absolutely sucks for investments, but for just monitoring transactions, categorization of spending, and acct balances it works fine.
I use it to track income through the year to determine how much of a Roth conversion I can do at YE. Last year the interest numbers didn't match the 1099s and found one bank screwed up the 1099 by missing a month on a CD that matured in Oct.
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Old 07-04-2019, 08:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
Hi All -

Looking for recommendations on software to track and categorize spending. Ideally something that we could download statements on checking and credit card accounts and would auto-categorize line items automatically (based on me teaching it what certain expenses are). Did it once a couple years ago into an excel spreadsheet, but it was painful.

Anyone have experience using YNAB (You Need A Budget) or something similar?

Had a go at searching for old threads but aside from some commenting on Quicken or Money, I didn't see much but if anyone remembers a thread and can point me to it that would be appreciated as well.

Thanks -

I like to use Mint.com for tracking expenses. Its free and owned by Intuit (i.e. Turbotax).

There is also personalcapital.com which is free, but be warned they will make sales calls to you want you to use them to manage your money. Which is not a big deal, I just block their number. I use personalcapital for tracking my networth and investments.

I also use Morningstar.com and SeekingAlpha.com for tracking investments.
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Old 07-04-2019, 08:38 AM   #14
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I went with AceMoney mainly because it could import my 10 years of using quicken. AceMoney is $40 with free lifetime upgrades. I like it.
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Old 07-10-2019, 02:22 PM   #15
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Thanks all for the recommendations. Will check out all of those. Mostly I just want to understand current spending for last couple of years and understand mandatory vs. discretionary and give me some confidence as I consider FIRE next year. Not too worried about tracking investments.

Thanks again.
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Old 07-10-2019, 02:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
Mostly I just want to understand current spending for last couple of years and understand mandatory vs. discretionary and give me some confidence as I consider FIRE next year. Not too worried about tracking investments.
Mint is only good for collecting data from now into the future. It doesn't look backward at all.

If you really want to analyze your prior spending, you'll need to get busy inputting a lot of data into a spreadsheet or Quicken.

My much more simple suggestion is to take your income, and subtract your savings and investments. That's how much you spend every month/year. If you want to break that down further, create a budget, and figure out your average spend on mortgage/rent, utilities, and all major budget line items. Then figure out what the remainder is going to. In my case, most of my 'irregular' spending is with Amazon, and I track this on an annual basis. Another suggestion for looking backward is to go to your credit card web sites, and see if they have an annual summary of your spending. Will be a bit of effort, no matter what!
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Old 07-10-2019, 02:57 PM   #17
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For those of you who download data into your own Excel spreadsheet, do you manually enter the spending category or do you not really track spending by category?
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Old 07-10-2019, 05:18 PM   #18
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For those of you who download data into your own Excel spreadsheet, do you manually enter the spending category or do you not really track spending by category?
I use the VLOOKUP function in Excel to automatically assign categories to transaction records. It references a table that originally came from Fidelity Fullview with several years of automatic categorization by vendor. When I have a new vendor, I manually add it to the table so the category is automatically assigned in the future. I also use pivot tables to summarize spending by category, which allows me to double-click into the transactional detail for analysis.

I only do this once per year. As I posted before, I'm more concerned with total spend and sustainability. But I have 30 years of history by category so I do it just to analyze long-term trends. We have no interest in controlling spend by category on an ongoing basis.
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Old 07-10-2019, 05:26 PM   #19
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Curious how you guys that are not tracking by category create or manage to a budget..

We have a pretty detailed category-level budget in Quicken, where we know pretty much to the penny what we spend on groceries, property taxes, income taxes, autos, utilities, insurance, etc. Seems there's value in that - at least for us..
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Old 07-10-2019, 06:35 PM   #20
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We've been using Mint+Personal Capital+Excel, seems good enough for now and free.
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