Do Personal Finance Yourself.

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Track Your Budget

Beating your budget often times means making trade-offs between the spending that you'd like to do today and reaching longer-term financial goals, which makes tracking your spend important.

How to Track Spend

While your ultimate goal is staying under budget, it's also important to see where your money is going, to cut back, where needed. Budgeting apps automate the analysis by allowing you to link all of your bank accounts and showing activity in one single view.

What's Needed to Link Accounts

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Online Banking Credentials

To link an account, provide the app with the username and password that you use to access your online banking.

Comfort Sharing Your Data

Apps retrieve your activity by using secure connections to request access to your account's financial data.

Use Insights from the App

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See a Full Picture

Rather than tracking your spending from just a credit card or bank account, budgeting apps pool your spending together across providers.

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Tag Transactions

To help see where you money is going, apps allow you to tag transactions by category and other labels, such as "reimbursable".

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Receive Spending Alerts

Apps use past spending patterns to forecast whether you're likely to go over-budget and alert you while you still have time to act on it.

Track Recurring Expenses

Apps alert you of bills coming due and subscriptions about to renew, sometimes allowing you to cancel directly from the app.

Split Purchase Categories

If you prefer to granularly track expenses, apps often allow you to split a purchase, such as Target, into multiple categories. 

Categorizing Expenses

The overall reason behind categorizing expenses is to provide yourself with insight at the end of the month on where your money went. Some budgeters prefer more granularity than others, which requires more of a time investment to track at that higher level of detail.

Categorization Methods

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High-Level

You may prefer to track at a high-level, using buckets that correspond to the 50-30-20 rule, such as "Bills", "Spending" and "Savings".

Cost Type

A common way to categorize spending is by cost type, such as Food & Dining or Groceries, which can become as granular as you want.

By Merchant

If you spend frequently at the same few stores, it may make sense to categorize by merchant, such as "Target", "Amazon" and "CVS".

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Organize your expense categories by PURPOSE

It's common for beginners to inundate their budget with a dozen or more granular expense categories, like "Pet Food" or "Auto Maintenance". While that may make sense in certain scenarios, the reality is that you will have to maintain that level of of granularity when tracking spend, which can become cumbersome over time and cause you to quit on your budget.
Instead, we recommend defining four or five groupings of spend that relate to the same overall purpose and then tracking at that level. For example, your spending on events and at bars can go into a "Fun" bucket while spending on food and personal products go into a "Core" bucket. This method of tracking still allows for some insight into where your money went while eliminating the burden of constantly recategorizing new transactions.

You're ready to do it yourself.