How do you track what you are spending? There are a few spreadsheets online to budget or track your spending. But… that means you have to do the work… to enter what you have spent, etc. (and who can be bothered!!)
What if you could find a service where you could log in and look at what you have been spending recently – taken straight from your bank and credit cards?
My mate Dave found a free service that does this. Since setting it up, I now log in, and receive the latest balances of my bank account and 2 credit cards.
And better than that – the system guesses categories of my expenses (e.g. Woolworths = Groceries, etc.).
Then I can click detail to view & update transaction & category details.
To set it up yourself
- Go to http://money.strands.com and create login & password,
- Search for your bank account (e.g. Westpac Australia) & add your login details (as if you were logging onto check your internet banking)
- Export transactions by clicking update
- Check categorizations and update where necessary
The system remembers your logon details for each account, so that when you log on next time, you can click update and download the latest transactions.
Benefits of Moneystrands
- Free to use
- Easy to setup
- Autoguess Category – Moneystrands guesses the category of transactions. For example Woolworths/Coles will go to groceries.
- Security – the company claims to use 128 bit encryption (similar to most sites when you put in your credit card details). So while I haven’t been burnt – there is always a small risk putting your details online.
- Wrong categorizing – The system may not always categorise correctly (requiring a bit of work to update – though you can write rules).
Negatives that might be fixed in future
- Reporting – Ideally a system like this would allow you to print something to help with at tax time (such as a list of certain categories you could tick). However at the moment you can only print a transactions listing and a few reports.
- Updates – One of my credit cards doesn’t always update transactions automatically.
- Bank Accounts – While moneystrands has the big4 banks and others there are banks that are not on their list (e.g. ING).
How does Moneystrands make money?
A question I usually ask for something that seems too good to be true is how the company makes money. With moneystrands they offer suggestions in a separate bar. So they would earn commissions if you clicked through their website and setup a new credit card through a bank (for example).