I want to generate some stats on my monthly spending
June 19, 2012 2:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in calculating monthly expenses. What's the best way of doing this, keeping in mind security concerns?

I want to generate some stats on my monthly spending. The ideal solution would also let me capture little costs like debit card purchases and afternoon beers. More generally, I'd like to know much I spend on food, and compare how much I spend on groceries versus eating out.

I'd like to know my average total monthly expenses, and to have a good idea where that money is going. Is there any security risk in using something like Mint to track my spending, or are there other tools that are more secure?
posted by deathpanels to Work & Money (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Very secure, syncs with your online banking, and you can give it budgets and it'll remind you if you go over for the month.
posted by Pomo at 2:05 PM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Mint is pretty much what you're looking for. Here's a somewhat dated but rather detailed article on their security features.
posted by griphus at 2:07 PM on June 19, 2012

Mint is as secure as automated tools get - I trust it. And even if someone were to gain access to your mint account, they could only see your money - you have to actually go and log into your bank normally totransfer anything.

I use mint, I love it, and it's taken a lot of the stress and annoyance out of tracking my expenses.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:07 PM on June 19, 2012

I'm not sure if he's still working there or posting here, but we had a user who worked at Mint for a long time and wrote this comment and might be able to give you more info on security concerns.
posted by jessamyn at 2:13 PM on June 19, 2012

I really enjoy using You Need a Budget, which I learned about right here. I found that the automatic syncing made me not use mint, but with YNAB I get to enjoy tracking my spending every single day! (YMMV along with your levels of OCD).
posted by goneill at 2:17 PM on June 19, 2012

One comment on Jessamyn's link: Part of Intuit bringing Mint "into the fold" included switching from Yodlee as their backend to Intuit's own system. So I would imagine that everything in that comment stands, just substitute "Intuit" for "Yodlee".
posted by misterbrandt at 2:45 PM on June 19, 2012

Mint is essentially a bank, in term of its security. In theory, your bank account can get hacked in many multiple ways. The popular scheme these days is to have the investment branch of the bank outright steal the content of the customer accounts to cover their gambling debts, cf MF Global). But we usually assume this can't happen.

However, I found Mint generates too much garbage data to be useful for budgeting. It requires too much babysitting, and has too few forward-looking features (as opposed to review-of-the-past features).

You Need a Budget is much better designed, and actually useful.
posted by gmarceau at 3:09 PM on June 19, 2012

I am a huge fan of EEBA, which I switched to after I accidentally irreversibly deleted 2 years of data from Mint.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 3:17 PM on June 19, 2012

Another vote for Mint. I've been using it weekly for three years and have yet to find something even close.
posted by joinks at 3:51 PM on June 19, 2012

I used Mint until they were unable to connect to my bank account and their fix was for me to turn off my two-factor authentication. So not too thrilled with their security back then. Maybe they've addressed that.
posted by kalessin at 6:16 PM on June 19, 2012

Your bank may have a money tracking and budeting app. Wells Fargo just upgraded theirs and I've dropped Mint in favor of it.
posted by COD at 6:36 PM on June 19, 2012

I found that "tracking in Mint" meant "not actually tracking anything", because I wouldn't be in the habit of looking at the site every day so I would make decisions without adequate feedback. I went through two or three cycles of this until I bounced a rent check one month and finally got serious.

Now I track every single financial transaction in a text file formatted for ledger. Over the years I've written various tools on top of ledger for more advanced reporting, but the built in stuff should be sufficient for what you want. (shameless plug) I've blogged about ledger quite a bit, too.

I'm not saying ledger is for everyone, or even for you, but I think the habit of tracking every penny, by hand, is extremely valuable. The basic system can be implemented with a spreadsheet.
posted by zrail at 7:51 AM on June 20, 2012

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