The Life-Changing Magic of Using Money Tracking Software

Many of us resist looking at our finances on a regular basis. We ignore looking at our bank accounts and just “hope for the best.” This strategy leads to financial anxiety, even though that’s often what we’re trying to avoid when we do this! Using a money management software is often the secret ingredient in transforming this anxious-avoidant cycle so many of us engage in. Money management software provides us with an easy way to keep track of our money, where it’s coming from, and where it’s going. Getting an easy glimpse at this on a regular basis can simplify financial decision-making. In the long-term it can help us significantly reduce our money stress. If you think I’m being hyperbolic with the title – I’m not. I’ve seen serious transformation happen when people start tracking their spending. 

So, what are some money tracking software options? If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I have a few tried and true options I recommend to my clients. Here, I compare and contrast these:

  • Good old-fashioned manual tracking. You can do this with paper and pencil or in a spreadsheet. Some people who have a lot of cash transactions in their business or personal finances might prefer this one. Especially in your personal life, it can be nice to keep a notepad or a note on your phone to record cash transactions so you don’t forget about them. However, this is definitely the most laborious way to track your money, and the amount of time you need to put in to do it effectively can prevent people from keeping up the habit. For this reason, I generally don’t recommend it, unless you know you’re someone who will keep up with this system at least once a week.
  • I have personally been using Mint for the last five years. It’s free, it connects to all your accounts and automatically imports your spending information, and it’s very easy to use. It has an app, which is really convenient. However, what I don’t like is that in order to get all the info that’s really valuable, I need to download the data into a spreadsheet. I personally do this at the end of every month to wrap-up my finances. It’s also important to note that as a free program, they are keeping (and likely monetizing in some way) data on your spending habits, and they are constantly advertising to you on this platform. It’s important to be wary of the barrage of credit card offers, banking deals, etc. It’s very basic, but it’s a great tool to get started with tracking your spending. 
  • MoneyGrit is a new software from Karen McCall who runs the Financial Recovery Institute, and I’m loving working with it so far. The interface provides a more intentional and hands-on experience when it comes to planning your spending. They actually lead you through a process of reviewing your intentions when setting up your spending plan! This emotional dimension can be really helpful in creating a connection between you and the decisions you make with your money.  The program also includes extras like worksheets to set goals and plan out financial self care action items. Lastly, this software factors periodic expenses into your spending plan, which is something a lot of money tracking softwares miss completely. 
  • Your Need a Budget, or YNAB, does a great job of emphasizing putting your money to work for you. While I’ve personally never used this tool, a lot of people love it for that reason.
  • Quickbooks is the standard when I’m working with clients on their business finances. This is less tailored to personal financial self care, but worth mentioning here because business and personal finances are interrelated

The main takeaway here is that there are many different tools you can use to track your spending and make financial clarity more accessible. I definitely recommend using an automated software over manual tracking, because most people are more likely to actually use an automated program. Tracking your finances is truly life-changing. You can see the effects of the financial decisions you’re making in real time. When you choose to save money, pay down debt, or spend on something you really value, a tracking program reflects that back to you. Using a tool helps you keep track of your financial growth and provide transformative motivation.

If you’re interested in doing this work with an accountability partner, we go deep into looking at your spending from a non-judgmental point of view in my private coaching offering, 4 Week Refresh, which I am offering through the end of January. Check out the details of that program and reserve a space here.

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Angela

Image: Ben White

Pick One of These 5 Ideas To Automate Your Wealth

Pick Pick One of These 5 Ideas To Automate Your Wealth: At Peace with Money

Last week we talked about loving our future selves, and dove into the world of IRAs. Today, I’d like to share a way you can love yourself and share the wealth with both future and present you – automation! I’ve written about automation before, and why it is so beneficial to our financial lives. The idea is simple: by automating your finances, you reduce your decision making, thereby reducing your chances to change your mind  or forget about saving money or paying a bill in full. Automating your finances make saving money easier and less of a mental effort. This principle is what Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg employ in their wardrobe choices. They’d wear the same thing every day so that they could conserve their brainpower for other more important decisions!

Here are my five ideas you can use to dip your toes into the world of financial automation. Start off slow – just pick one and try it out. If you like your results, you can come back for more!

Automate a Savings Goal

Set up an amount to automatically be sent to a particular savings account for a goal you’re pursuing. Don’t worry about the amount, any amount is great! Simply trying this is the most important step. 

Automate a Bill Payment

Automating a bill payment insures you will not pay late fees. In the long run, this could save you a lot of money. 

Set an Alert

Many banks offer to send alerts when your account hits a minimum balance. Set this up so you don’t overdraw your account. This way, you can avoid those pesky overdraft fees. 

Connect Your Accounts

Connect your accounts to a money management system or app so you can  really see where your money is actually going. I use Mint and I love it! Personal Capital is another I’ve heard of, and many people also swear by YNAB, or You Need a Budget

Set Up Direct Deposit

Have your paycheck automatically deposited into your checking account! This is so much more simple than Pick One of These 5 Ideas to Automate Your Wealth: At Peace With Moneyhaving to take all that time and effort to take your paycheck to the bank. Even if you have your own business and have varying income, you can create a solopreneur paycheck using the Profit First system. If you’re interested in reading more about this, I recommend my posts Create Your Own Paycheck  and How to Pay Yourself First.

If you enjoy these tips and want more resources on automation, I’ll happily recommend The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. This book emphasizes how savings habits and automation can help you build up savings for retirement. He also has a variety of free resources available for download on his website, so go ahead and take a look at those too! And of course, if any of this has piqued your interest, I’m happy to talk to you about setting up money systems for your business. Take a look at my service packages and schedule a curiosity call!

Angela

Image Source: Rodion Kutsaev