Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Track Spending Online

Walking through the LO$T series together has been rocking some of our worlds! What a timely, relevant series on our personal finances!

From the beginning of this series, we've said that the best way to get "un-lost" is to know where we are—to gain context.

Here are some helpful tools that you can start with right away. Each is an online tool to help you track and categorize spending by syncing in real time with your bank accounts, including debit- and credit-card transactions. Start today knowing where your money is going!

The first of the free utilities, and regularly adding features. I've experienced a 24-48 hour delay in syncing with my bank account, but other than that it's pretty smooth.

Quicken Online
The newest offering in the free category, from the personal finance giant Intuit. I'm guessing there'll be easy upgrade paths to more robust paid options. I'm also guessing Intuit will remind you of those upgrade paths often. But hey, free is free!

My personal favorite, because it takes a different approach. It really mimics the physical envelopes you may have used in the past. Each time you have income, you allocate specific amounts to each envelope (spending category). At any time, you can check to see what remains in each envelope, and envelope balances accrue each month for those items you're saving up for. ($8-$13 per month, depending on length of agreement.)

What do you use? Is there another system you'd recommend? Comment below!


Blogger Ben Habeck said...

I use Bank of America and they offer FREE "My Portfolio". This way, you can link in all of your accounts (investments, credit cards, mortgages, loans, etc.) in one place and there is no lag time in the sync. It'll give you graphs and what not too. Not to mention, you can categorize all of your expenses, reconcile your account, etc. all right through My Portfolio. Plus, it's fully integrated into the BOA website.

I also setup my own "Envelope" system, however, using separate bank accounts (all at BOA). My wife and I have separate debit cards for each bank account and we setup direct deposit into each bank account. That way, if the money runs out, the debit card doesn't work and you've maxed out your budget for that period.

If you do it through Bank of America, the accounts are FREE and they're all linked into "My Portfolio", via one login to the bank website. They give you the option to setup multiple users, so if you wanted to get your kids setup with accounts, it's easy. You can give them a login just to their account, however still linked into yours. It's REALLY easy and VERY effective, especially if you can get your kids involved in this at a young age.

In case you can't tell, I do this for a living now. www.ps20.net

December 2, 2008 7:05:00 PM EST  

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