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Alternative to Mint (budgeting) app?

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    Alternative to Mint (budgeting) app?

    Wondering if anyone has experience with a personal accounting app, like Mint, but with different features.
    With my second kid starting preschool, and the continuing... instability in the public schools, we're paying a fair bit in tuition, which has really blown up our budget, and it's time to keep a close eye on it. The only problem is, in Mint, you can't ever see the important stuff, because it's just ALL right out front.

    I'd love some app based on the whole 50/30/20 personal finance rule - where I can pick my categories.
    50% - Things like mortgage, phone bill, insurance, and donations are on autopay - just put it all in one big bucket, and don't bother me about it. It's static.
    30% - Investments and kids' tuition - similarly, on autopay, but might change year over year, so let me categorize it differently, but don't bother me about it.
    20% is what I want on my homepage - how much did I spend on groceries, restaurants, bars, home improvement, auto maintenance, and shopping? This is what's actually variable and needs to be closely tracked.

    If Mint would just let me choose my own categories, it wouldn't be bad, but it's too rigid, so "home improvement", "furnishings" (IKEA, basically), and "Mortgage" are all in the same category. They're very, very different to my monthly financial picture.

    So I know there are apps out there that require you put every. single. expenditure. in manually, and there's no way I'm doing that. I just want to have a big filter where, if it changes monthly, it's on the homepage, and if it's been the same every month for more than a year, just don't annoy me with a "news flash!" every time it withdraws.

    Anything like that?

    Or, is there some very clever app developer who has the right credentials to make a budgeting app? This is a major hole in the market, IMO.
    Feedback: https://www.mcarterbrown.com/forum/b...eedback-thread

    #2
    My wife made up a spreadsheet with pivot tables. Ive given it to a few friends in pursuit of budgeting. I can send you the template later tonight if youd like.


    Essentially you plug everything in, and it gives your monthly net total profit or loss on its own. Its a nice tool.

    Not an app though

    Comment


    • flyweightnate

      flyweightnate

      commented
      Editing a comment
      This is pretty much what I do every six months, retrospectively. Very cool, but I have enough moving parts that the data dump takes a while.

    • BrickHaus

      BrickHaus

      commented
      Editing a comment
      Ahh, yeah our budget is fairly fixed as of now so its easy to modify ours as times change. Ill post it later, if not for you someone else may find it useful.

    • flyweightnate

      flyweightnate

      commented
      Editing a comment
      The cool thing about MCB - there's always a generous expert somewhere.

    #3
    YNAB - You Need a Budget has been pretty good. I also like the one I get with my banking from tangerine bank, so maybe see if yours has anything useful?

    And 50/30/20 is difficult to do at the best of times, with current cost of living it may be hard without without high income. I'd compare what you can spend and save to the averages in your area or state and see how you compare. In Dallas I wouldn't be surprised to see many spending 35-45% on housing alone.

    Comment


    • flyweightnate

      flyweightnate

      commented
      Editing a comment
      Ok, so this app has been updated SIGNIFICANTLY since I last looked at it. It might fit the bill now - I'm gonna PM you for a referral link.

    #4
    Have you checked with your bank? Mine offers a pretty good one.

    Comment


      #5
      Everydollar... after fully reading your request - this will not be it. You need to add your transactions. Which we do and have done (with the app) for a solid 4-5 years. You can pay for the premium service to allow you to link to your bank and automatically import new transactions, but you will still have to move them to their appropriate line items in the app. But it gives you full understanding to where your money goes.

      If you want something to automatically show you things based on your actual account transactions without having to do any manual entry, I would think only your bank's online banking system would work. But I would expect that to be a stretch reality too. Not banking on the banks to be that tech savvy.
      My feedback

      Comment


        #6
        The benefit of the online ones like Mint (I use personal Capital which doesn't sound like what you are looking for) for me is the automatic categorizing where they learn the categories to put things into. When I need to actually look at the budge and figure things out I export the information into a spreadsheet and use the categories that they have to clump the categories they assigned into the broader categories that I want. and view that way.
        Originally posted by MAr
        ... Nish deleted it...

        Originally posted by Axel "coffee-fueled, beer-cooled."

        Master Jar-Jar

        Comment


          #7
          You might want to check out Mint’s desktop site. Years ago we used it extensively and created a bunch of custom categories that translated to the app when we logged in. I don’t recall the app having all the features of the desktop website though.

          Comment


            #8
            Look, I'm not good at budgeting... my definition of budgeting is probably weird and not good enough for some but here's what I use to keep track of where money is going, and what's coming in/out:

            https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing

            This is a work in progress, don't think it's above improvement.

            At the beginning of each month my wife and I create a new worksheet off this template and try to plan out what expenses we expect to pay. We have two kinds.... Subscription types like mortgage and Hulu... stuff we pay for every month for roughly the same amount each month and expenses that can vary month to month... IE groceries, gas, restaurants.

            We do our best to say, "this is what we're comfortable spending" and cross that against the very bottom which has the income we expect to have come in throughout the month.
            The chart does some simple number crunching to see where we should end up on columns F and G.

            We don't use much cash so half way through the month and at the end of the month I'll gather all our credit card/bank statements and figure out how we're doing. Each row correlates to an arbitrary imaginary bucket we want to track spending around. I'll call out a cell like C36, note it's using a formula so you can add expenses to that bucket as you process them instead of having to do all the math in your head yourself.

            So, at the end of the month we can see how the bombs dropped, how many hit their target and which ones need a second look at. For the next month, say we're not happy with how much money we spend on Amazon... maybe we'll break that row into two pieces,' Amazon - Baby stuff' and another row,' Amazon - Not Baby stuff' to get stronger insights what might be going on.

            Probably rambled on this way too long. I got inspired to make this originally looking at the budget template Clark Howard references here: https://clark.com/personal-finance-c...get-worksheet/

            So I know there are apps out there that require you put every. single. expenditure. in manually, and there's no way I'm doing that. I just want to have a big filter where, if it changes monthly, it's on the homepage, and if it's been the same every month for more than a year, just don't annoy me with a "news flash!" every time it withdraws.
            I empathize with not loving the idea of spending an hour or two looking over statements, but it's a very good way to validate where money is going. In my experience with Mint and Credit card reporting tools they don't always get the categories for expenses correct so time I would spend just entering data manually I spend fixing poorly categorized expenses.

            Or, is there some very clever app developer who has the right credentials to make a budgeting app? This is a major hole in the market, IMO.
            Something in tech that could prevent a purchase from happening that would break a budget would be interesting. A smarter, 'this went over budget' alert is a lot of tech to simply say, 'you were not following your budget.'
            Last edited by ford; 01-23-2022, 03:57 PM.

            Comment


              #9
              Originally posted by Nish View Post
              The benefit of the online ones like Mint (I use personal Capital which doesn't sound like what you are looking for) for me is the automatic categorizing where they learn the categories to put things into. When I need to actually look at the budge and figure things out I export the information into a spreadsheet and use the categories that they have to clump the categories they assigned into the broader categories that I want. and view that way.
              I think this is the best way to go. Use an aggregator like Mint to get all the transactions, then dump to Excel to look at the information the way you want to. I built a cross-reference of Mint categories to my categories, then use a vlookup to assign my categories to the transactions. Then build an analysis and dashboard for monthly reviews with the wife. Having the information being easily presented has really helped our conversations. Previously it was like pulling teeth to talk about it because we just logged on Mint and tried to figure out what happened.

              @flyweightnate
              Exporting Mint Transactions to Excel and creating your own categories would probably fit your needs. To create the first cross reference, all I did was export all transactions, filter unique on the category, copy/paste that list into another worksheet, and then did the tedious task of assigning my categories to each mint category. Once it's setup, you're good though, only need to do that once.

              Comment


              • flyweightnate

                flyweightnate

                commented
                Editing a comment
                You know, I never thought of using vlookup to categorize once I exported everything. Which is crazy considering how often I do it at work. Hm. I might give this a shot for the post-op meetings in the future. Thanks!

              #10
              I have a similar accounting spreadsheet. I recently evaluated the new Money feature of Excel 365, but found it rather limiting for anyone that already has developed an accounting system. It's about as good as exporting from mint, which is free already.

              The trick I recommend is putting all of your data in tables that capture various contexts, naming each table something recognizable, and then using SumProduct to condense your IF functions. e.g. SumProduct(--(Transact[account]="Ally Bank"),--(Transact[month]="July",--(Transact[year]="2021"),Transact[amount]) returns the sum of all Ally Bank transactions in July 2021. That's the single most powerful function I know of in Excel. The formula I use for automatically tagging transactions with category, sub-category, assigning the cause, the asset being supported/invested, etc... that one would take a class to teach and it's not very efficient. I'm just too lazy to write my own program for it. I started setting up Firefly III last year but my server is already getting bogged down by other stuff, and I have a working system for accounting. But that's the direction I hope to go in the coming years.
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