Calorie counter for my wallet
November 9, 2010 10:24 AM   Subscribe

I'd love to get a handle on my money the same way I'm getting a handle on my eating. I've been using Fatsecret and its corresponding Android app for several weeks now to lose weight...and it's working! I think the reasons it works for me are A) it forces me to eat consciously; I know I will be entering the calories, so instead of scarfing eight cookies, I'm counting so I can enter the right amount in Fatsecret later, B) It's simple (takes only a moment to choose a food, dropdown menu for portion, barcode scanner/can enter food anywhere with app; I don't have to think about when, what, how often to eat), C) It's almost like a game (Hey, only 74% of allotted calories today! Woo!) I want something like that for money.

Mint is too easy -- it pulls in data from my credit cards and bank account on its own and it doesn't require any conscious thought. Something that's trickier than counting calories, though, is that spending a fixed, daily amount isn't realistic, and yet I still need this to be a really simple system (even at the sacrifice of some fancier features) or I won't use it; I'll just think about using it. Any suggestions?
posted by The Dutchman to Work & Money (8 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
There might be an app for the Zero Balance Budget, and if there isn't then it's simple enough to do by hand. It takes that left-brained engineering problem approach that seems to work for a lot of people.
posted by caek at 10:32 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

We are huge EEBA fans. It used to be totally free but now there's a minimal cost associated with it. Things have gotten a little more complicated since they've upgraded but we love it.
posted by jasbet07 at 10:57 AM on November 9, 2010


It's not free, but it is AMAZING. There's a free trial, though, with full functionality for anywhere from thirty to ninety days, depending on their current promotion.

It, like Mint, pulls in all your data from your bank accounts. But instead of being like, oh huh, that's how much I spent last week, whoops!, the idea is that you enter your income first, then you allot that income into several categories (envelopes), which makes up your budget for the month (or whatever time interval) -- there are the fixed categories like your rent, recurring payments, etc, and your discretionary like clothing, food, entertainment. Then as you spend, Mvelopes pulls in your transactions, and you assign them to the different categories. So you can start to see, uh oh, only $40 left of dining out unless I want to reassign some money from my electric bill. You can also manually enter transactions (like cash or checks) and then deduct them right as you spend instead of waiting for a couple of days before a credit-card purchase comes through (or forgetting about a check and overdrafting).

I haven't a steady, predictable income for a while so I cancelled my subscription. I know they've sort of rebranded themselves so it's probably even more amazing now. They had a mobile-web app a couple of years ago which was totally adequate for entering transactions on the go until I could get home and spiff everything up. But I really love monitoring my accounts, being able to have a totally accurate picture of all my balances, and sitting at home each night for a few minutes to reconcile all my purchases and budgets.

**It's also a great way to put money away for savings.
posted by thebazilist at 11:37 AM on November 9, 2010

I love Quicken, which I deal with one a week on weekends on my home computer.

App wise, anMoney looks good, and is compatible with Quicken if you ever try that.
posted by bearwife at 11:39 AM on November 9, 2010

Actually EEBA looks really similar, it's another envelope system. And it's an Android app.
posted by thebazilist at 11:40 AM on November 9, 2010

Uh, that was supposed to be "once" a week.
posted by bearwife at 11:40 AM on November 9, 2010

Response by poster: Great suggestions so far. thebazillist's post makes me think I should mention that, as a freelancer, I don't have a regular, predictable income either. Sometimes plenty, sometimes not enough to get through the I imagine that complicates things a bit. Keep em comin!
posted by The Dutchman at 12:53 PM on November 9, 2010

Well it still works, you just are manually allotting each paycheck then. With a fixed income you can automate it to do the same amounts every month. I probably should have continued using it (cough, overdrafts), and that way I don't have to guess at my balance. I think budgeting is more beneficial with an unpredictable income but it's harder, and I kind of just let my subscription lapse. So don't rule the envelope systems out.
posted by thebazilist at 3:04 PM on November 9, 2010

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