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Recommend a software tool for personal expense budgeting and investment tracking
Old 04-18-2019, 07:07 PM   #1
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Recommend a software tool for personal expense budgeting and investment tracking

I am looking to start budget tracking and would like a tool that helps with this (download transactions from bank, CC's, etc.) and also have capability to track investments (pull market updates).

Anybody have a recommendation that does both?
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Old 04-18-2019, 07:32 PM   #2
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Honestly, they are all flawed. I have tried many of them and none of them do what I really want. I keep going back to Quicken because of the investment part but I don't like its interface and its budgeting isn't good.

Currently I use the online version of YNAB. I am mostly OK with its check register/budgeting aspects (there are some flaws) but investment stuff is pretty basic and it really isn't designed for that. I end up using a combination of YNAB and my own spreadsheets. But, honestly, I am not happy with any of the choices.
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Old 04-18-2019, 08:25 PM   #3
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Personal Capital has both for free.
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Old 04-19-2019, 04:12 AM   #4
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Old 04-19-2019, 05:34 AM   #5
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Personal Capital has both for free.
A consideration for Personal Capital: It is free because they use it as a tool to generate leads. Be prepared for phone calls and texts from them trying to solicit your business.
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Old 04-19-2019, 05:39 AM   #6
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For tracking investments, the best software package I've found (and I've tried many if not most of them) is Fund Manager. I've been in the software business my entire career, so appreciate when a program "just works" the way it's supposed to and is clean, fast and (so far) bug free. Really appreciate the developer's efforts on it - it's IMHO written in the way software should be. The Quicken guys should just hire him to re-write that mess from scratch ..

For budgeting and expenses, I like many others use Quicken. Even as horrid as it is, it's still in my experience the best solution out there - and I've tried replacing it with YNAB, MoneyDance and others but still came back to Quicken as I found it to be more powerful and comprehensive overall. Just compliment it with something like Fund Manager for your investments and that's a workable solution in my experience - even though I wish Quicken would get their act together and put out a more solid product..
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Old 04-19-2019, 06:02 AM   #7
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Our method is simple, and does not require much effort. However, it does not include all CC transactions and investments. We just collect income and expenses that run through our checking accounts. Almost everything goes through checking, so it is a quick budget, depending on how I want to categorize.

Each month I download transactions to Excel sheet. I assign standard categories, and twice a year I add to summary sheet, which has gross categories by month.

We use CCs for categories of purchase. So, if we use one CC for auto & gas, it is self-categorizing.

What I find to be most valuable, is to have transactions in Excel, and I can do what is necessary to analyze.

Quicken and other software does a great job. However, I never have to upgrade, so it is much simpler, at least for me. If you are using Quicken and have your thumb on every detail now, it would be difficult to get that with spreadsheets. So I agree our method wouldn't work for most on this forum.
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Old 04-19-2019, 06:29 AM   #8
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For the minority of us who track expenses daily and or investments, Excel spreadsheets work just fine.
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Old 04-19-2019, 06:36 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by WhenIsItTime View Post
I am looking to start budget tracking and would like a tool that helps with this (download transactions from bank, CC's, etc.) and also have capability to track investments (pull market updates).

Anybody have a recommendation that does both?
I have used Quicken for this for many years and think it is the best one-stop solution out there. I have every financial account, including credit cards, defined in Quicken and almost all of them linked to the relevant financial institution. They have a One-Step Update that goes out to each institution and pulls in any transactions... in my case I have it set up so downloaded transactions are in a state where I have to review them before they are posted to the account... but that is an easy process.

It also pulls investment transactions and automatically updates stock and bond fund prices.

I also like the inclusion of Quicken's retirement planner, Quicken Lifetime Planner, integrated in Quicken. QLP is intuitive, easy-to-use and covers a lot of bases. One flaw is that it is a deterministic analysis rather than a stochastic analysis (it uses user provided assumed investment earning ratea rather than Monte Carlo), but I use it for my base plan and then use other tools like FIRECalc for stochastic stress testing of the plan.

I also really like Projected Balances... shows a projection of balances for periods of time that you can define... in my case the next 90 days. Since I have all my regular inflows and outflows defined as scheduled bills or deposits, it shows me a running balance of my checking account (see graphic below). I use this as my home page and find it to be a handy cash forecasting/management aide.

Now mind you, I am an accountant by trade and a bit anal about monitoring my finances, but from other posts here I think I have some good company.
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Recommend a software tool for personal expense budgeting and investment tracking
Old 04-19-2019, 06:57 AM   #10
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Recommend a software tool for personal expense budgeting and investment tracking

I use Quicken Premier for Windows in combination with spreadsheets to track/budget/plan. There are a few recent threads about various software packages and their pros and cons so youíll find more opinions with a search.

One thing helpful is to pay attention to and mention what the target OS is (Windows, MacOS, Linux) and/or if you are looking for Web/mobile features.
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Old 04-19-2019, 07:30 AM   #11
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I've found that software that is good at budget and expense tracking isn't necessarily very good at investment tracking, and the reverse. I have an old system that has both, but the investments are at a high level and not really used for measurements and tracking. I go with the spreadsheet for investment management and tracking.
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:27 AM   #12
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Years ago, I used to use Quicken for budgeting and tracking. But then realized that I'm happy with just a budget program and summaries from Vanguard (most of where my investments are at) and spreadsheets.

I use an old program (Windows only) called Budget Advisor for my budget and use spreadsheets to tally up my asset allocations and for rebalancing once a year.

I really don't dwell on investment performance but am more interested in percent allocations and budgeting too keep myself honest. For my budgeting, I concentrate on current year and rarely have reason to look back at prior years.

The company for the Budget Advisor program is no longer around, but I think (not 100% sure, as I purchased a perpetual license) there still may a fully functional (back when shareware wasn't crippleware after 30 days ) shareware versions of the program around if you look hard enough.
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Old 04-19-2019, 12:14 PM   #13
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For the minority of us who track expenses daily and or investments, Excel spreadsheets work just fine.


+1

Agree that any online have their flaws. I developed a spreadsheet of my own and after a couple years gave up on it. Was very close to what I forecasted prior to retirement
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Old 04-19-2019, 12:28 PM   #14
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Personal Capital has both for free.
PC's investment tracking and analytics are excellent. But IIRC, the budget functionality is very limited. If your emphasis is on budgeting, Mint or YNAB might be a better choice.

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Originally Posted by jollystomper View Post
A consideration for Personal Capital: It is free because they use it as a tool to generate leads. Be prepared for phone calls and texts from them trying to solicit your business.
Just ignore them (or say 'not interested') and the emails and phone calls stop.

I use Excel for everything related to budgeting, investment tracking, analysis, and retirement planning... except as pb4uski mentioned, I also use FireCalc and Fidelity RIP for stochastic analysis. I earned a living with Excel so I'm very comfortable using it.
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Old 04-19-2019, 06:42 PM   #15
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Donít think Iíve found the complete solution myself either. I was in finance my whole career and have built an elaborate Excel spreadsheet. Data is downloaded monthly from my bank, into an input tab (both checking and CC data), and all the info flows through various tables to my output reports. There is an assignments table used to assign financial statement line item classes to each transaction.

Iím also using Mint and Fidoís Full View. I mostly rely on my spreadsheet as Iím not entirely pleased with the other two options. So I guess in essence Iím using the three in tandem, until I find something better.

Mint isnít awful but that said itís not really great either. It does a great job of automatically appending the new data from my bank and cross walking it into my setup. It can be updated daily if desired. Some transactions will have mapping errors and will need to be worked one-by-one after each update to give them the correct expense or income type assignment. The budgeting tool however is somewhat basic. Reporting is also pretty basic. There are custom transaction type assignments that can be added to each transaction for additional subtotal capabilities...
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Old 04-19-2019, 08:57 PM   #16
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For the minority of us who track expenses daily and or investments, Excel spreadsheets work just fine.
+1

I am very happy with Excel (or Open Access, which I use now because it is similar but free). I love its flexibility, and knowing exactly how the computations are done. I started my own spreadsheet about 20 years ago and still use it every day.

I tried Quicken and YNAB, but I just prefer my own spreadsheets.
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:27 PM   #17
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Old 04-20-2019, 06:20 AM   #18
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Hi,
I am new at excel and would love to see an example of your expense spreadsheets. Any good examples out there?
I've put together a basic budget but, now want to analyze our spending over 2018. I just downloaded the data from our bank, BoA.
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Old 04-20-2019, 07:52 AM   #19
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Hi,
I am new at excel and would love to see an example of your expense spreadsheets. Any good examples out there?
The problem with someone else's spreadsheet for a person not well-versed in Excel is that it will probably do something unexpected, then, without spreadsheet knowledge, you'll be lost.


My recommendation would be to build one yourself using a youtube series.


I just searched "making a budget spreadsheet" and found , which looks reasonable, but there are many options. That one is 13 minutes and it's a multi-part video, so probably fairly comprehensive (I didn't watch it, but just made sure it had narration and that the English was good). The key difference in doing this is that you'll build the spreadsheet from scratch, so you'll know how it works. First pass, you can do it exactly like the video, then afterwards, you can change things to your liking.
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Old 04-20-2019, 08:15 AM   #20
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I recently switched from Quicken to Excel to track my finances. Excel is very powerful but you can do over 90% of what you need for a simple budget or investment tracking spreadsheet just by learning a few basics like how to format cells and how to use the basic math functions (+,-,x,/) among cells in a worksheet. There's plenty of online help (youtube/google) to guide you along when questions come up.
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