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

The Key to Reducing Money Stress in Your Business

As a business owner, you are responsible for the finances of your business. That responsibility can come with a lot of stress. However, with proper management, the financial side of a business can become a seamless system that sustains you and your passion. The key here? Get organized.

What does getting organized look like when it comes to your business finances? It looks like solid record-keeping and the ability to look back at financial data easily. It looks like a good awareness of the money coming in and out of your business. It looks like knowing you have enough to pay yourself, pay your taxes, and run your business.

All of this can be done without the chaos, by implementing a few changes to how you do your business finances. What you need will vary depending on the type of business you run and its current financial conditions. Today, I’d like to share a couple tips on getting your business finances organized that seem to come up most often in my work with clients.

Create a Supportive Money System

Last year, I wrote a full series devoted to money-mapping, a practice you can use to visualize the flow of money in your business. Creating a money system, and a visual way to understand it, can help you recognize where the income you receive through your business is needed most, and how your personal and business finances integrate. By creating a money system that tracks every dollar (including cash) of income that you receive, you set yourself up for success. A good money system gives you an idea of the profitability of your business, so that you’re not guessing at how much you’re really making.

My work around money mapping integrates the Profit First system’s allocations idea, to help business owners set aside money for various uses in their business. These include the important things, like paying your operating expenses, getting paid, paying taxes, and saving a portion of that money in a profit account. You can read the series on money mapping here: Part I, Part II, Part III, and a follow-up article on keeping your money systems simple.

Get Prepped for Taxes

One of the big themes in my guide to getting prepped for tax time is just simply keeping your documents organized in one place. Keeping all your paper documents in one physical spot, and saving all your digital documents to a designated folder, can save you from a lot of digging and stress when March rolls around. Creating a simple organizational system for tracking these things is a great preparation step for tax season, and a definite stress-reducer.

Show Up

They say that 90% of success is showing up, and this rings true when it comes to keeping your business organized and stress-free. If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit, you’ll know I’m a proponent of having weekly “money time,” which is for you to review your financial situation and do any financial admin work that needs to get done. This time is extremely important for financial self care. Perhaps even more important than what you do during this time, is simply scheduling it in and doing it. When you make a regular habit of revisiting your finances, you will naturally start to shape them to be more organized.

Use Helpful Tools

These days, we are lucky to have many tools available that can help us stay organized in our businesses. Here are a couple that I frequently help clients integrate into their finances:

  • MoneyGrit is a great tool for either personal or business use.
  • Mint has fewer features, but can be really helpful for solopreneurs with few transactions, or personal use.
  • Quickbooks is a classic and excellent for business use.
  • YNAB is a tool I personally have less experience with, but a few other coaches I know use it often and recommend it.

I am planning on doing a more in-depth post on money tracking softwares, and the why and how to use them for business and personal finances later this month. Stay tuned for that!

I hope these tips on organization encourage you to decrease the financial stress in your business. A lot of this work can be accelerated when done with an accountability partner. I’m currently offering a 4 Week Refresh package through the end of January for people who’d like to work with an expert to gain control of their business finances. This package of four private sessions is designed to help you review 2020 and create a clear roadmap to your financial goals in 2021. We’ll also construct a money map personalized to your business, so you can effortlessly visualize your money system. If you’re interested in this package, you can learn more and sign up for a free consultation here.

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Angela

Image by  Arnel Hasanovic

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