Tools For Tracking Your Spending

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I’ve once again started to track my daily spending, to the penny, using Expensr. I’ve tried this in the past, without too much success – largely because of a lack of effort and organisation on my part. Having to remember everything I spent each day does not come easily to me, nor does getting receipts for everything and entering the info somewhere at a later point. You wouldn’t think it was that difficult, but for me it has proved so.

Expensr is a tool I discovered a few years ago, but I’ve been looking at other ways this can be achieved:

Pen & Paper

Probably the simplest method is the good old pen and paper – jot down all your spending and then add it all up each week or month. Possibly the easiest way to record spending, but the hardest to analyse – remember, there’s a reason for tracking your spending, and that’s to see where all of your money is going (yeah, no joke!), which will then enable you to do something about it.

Spreadsheets

Using some sort of spending spreadsheet is still a pretty manal task, but they are configurable to your own needs, if you have some knowledge of using them, and will allow you to analyse and visualise your spending.

If not, you may want to check out these personal finance spreadsheets for some inspiration. You could use Microsoft Excel, or for the more money conscious of you, try out OpenOffice, an “open source”, (and therefore free), alternative to Microsoft Office, which includes its own spreadsheet software, Calc.

Online Tools

There are numerous web tools for tracking spending; I’ve already mentioned my current favourite, Expensr, but there are more comprehensive spending and money management tools such as Mint and Wesabe which will both track your spending and do a lot more to boot.

They’re too feature rich for my needs, plus they’re made for a US audience, which is no good for us UK users. I use Egg Money Manager to login to my various web banking accounts, but that doesn’t let me track individual items of spending.

Another new tool, Tweet What You Spend, uses the microblogging tool Twitter to let you record transactions. It’s quite a convenient way of doing things, as you can “Tweet” from your mobile. (A reminder that you can follow MoneyWatch on Twitter if you wish, but you won’t start to see my spending on there – I’d suggest you do that with a private Twitter feed if you go down that route).

What I’d personally like is to use is a tool similar to Expensr that I could send a (free) text message to in order to add new transactions. I figure a mobile phone is a useful tool for this kind of job as it is generally kept close at hand, which means it could be used to record transactions instead of having to remember each one or keep receipts. Whether this is done by text message or software on the phone itself doesn’t really to  matter to me, as long as it’s simple , which for the disorganised like me, is key.

Do you track all of your spending? If so, how do you do it, and what tools can you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: ansik

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