New Year's Resolution: Track My Expenses Less Stupidly
January 2, 2016 6:39 PM   Subscribe

I want to move on from my primitive checkbook, which necessitates a truly odious annual tallying/categorizing chore come tax season. There's got to be a better way! If it's an app, ideally it's one that works on both iPhone and Mac, and is as automatic as possible when it comes to totaling expenses in tidy little categories for my accountant. Does anyone have suggestions?
posted by Anonymousness to Work & Money (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by k8t at 6:47 PM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

posted by Dashy at 7:12 PM on January 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

Mint hasn't driven me completely crazy, yet.
posted by humboldt32 at 7:15 PM on January 2, 2016

Thirding Mint. It takes a little while to adjust transactions to always classify things a certain way, but it's definitely worth it.
posted by shesbenevolent at 7:37 PM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mint will be the most automatic and is free, while the new YNAB will give you the greatest control/accuracy and is $45 a year until Jan 31st. (YNAB4 doesn't have direct import for bank statements, so I think it would be inappropriate.)
posted by foxfirefey at 7:40 PM on January 2, 2016

Do you need to track everything or just those things that have tax implications? You could look at a business expense tracker. I really like the XPenseTracker app. For everyday money tracking and budget tracking, Mint, YNAB or Quicken. I think to really stay on top of things, you need to check in and categorize regularly - weekly or monthly at the longest.
posted by amanda at 7:50 PM on January 2, 2016

I’ve been using YNAB4 since 2013, and it’s been excellent. I don’t export things for an accountant, but it does produce CSV and QIF files. I import data from my bank and credit card sites a couple times per month using the Quickbooks format downloads, and primarily like it for the monthly budget feature. No idea about iPhone use, unfortunately.
posted by migurski at 7:50 PM on January 2, 2016

I find that Mint works ok. It's quirky and a bit of a hassle but overall it is low effort and does what I need it to.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:04 PM on January 2, 2016

5thing (6thing?) Mint.
posted by quincunx at 8:23 PM on January 2, 2016

I'm Nthing Mint. I'm a data control freak, and kept my own spreadsheets to track business and personal expenses by month and year FOREVER. After using Mint for years, I finally came up against a complex year and didn't want to keep up with the data entry for my spreadsheets, and used Mint to produce my "reports" for me to do my small business taxes. I could have opted for Quickbooks, or even Quicken, but found that Mint did everything I needed with a relatively small amount of babysitting. (I still keep a handwritten register because I enjoy the zen of it, I'm all about Mint for knowing what percentage of my budget (in any category) I've hit on the 12th of the month, or how much I've spent on advertising by July vs. the prior year.

There are a few things that are annoying -- the same expense (say, Yellow Pages advertising) may come up labeled differently every few months, so any categories or rules you assign may go awry, but that seems to be a function of how the vendor submits information to Mint, and not Mint itself.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:50 PM on January 2, 2016

We use iBank, which has an iPhone app and a Mac app. It can run reports when you like for categories you choose, which is nice when we need to run expense reports to see what we spent, e.g., on utilities. It also can track recurrent payments, etc.

We used it to replace quicken when quicken stopped being supported for the Mac.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:34 PM on January 2, 2016

I tried Mint for a little while, but honestly, I prefer just using my bank's budgeting function right in their website. With a minimum amount of setup, I could categorize and track transactions easily. One day a week, I go in and verify/ correct the entries. At the end of the year, I can look at totals and export the information. I do exactly the same thing with my MasterCard.

So easy! This is just for basic budgeting, but it works really well for me.
posted by Gusaroo at 12:04 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

n'thing ynab.

foxfirefey: do you know if ynab4 can still be purchased (by new users) at all? I can't tell from their web page.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 6:48 AM on January 3, 2016

YNAB4 can be purchased on STEAM.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:12 AM on January 3, 2016

Thanks, humboldt32.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 9:55 AM on January 3, 2016

If you're a privacy enthusiast, don't use Mint. GnuCash is manual - you're going to need to import info from your bank/credit cards - but it offers a lot of the same functionality (and an android app) with much less worry over where your personal and financial information is being stored. Also, free!
posted by givennamesurname at 1:17 PM on January 3, 2016

I have used both Mint and YNAB and if you want accurate, YNAB is your choice. I have budget categories in YNAB for things that are relevant for my taxes (investment property, work expenses, you can make these categories whatever is exactly right for you) and then when you spend any money you enter it into the mobile app and you end up with nice little reports on exactly how much you spent in those categories -- the time it takes for me to prepare things for my accountant is literally 5-10 minutes.

Now -- you have to enter every transaction, so it's not automated. Mint is automated, but it is HORRIBLE at categorizing things. HORRIBLE.

The new YNAB that just launched has Mint-like automatic import of transactions, but not reporting feature -- yet. Reports are coming, probably in Q2 this year, so it's not a 100% sure bet, but if you are starting a new thing anyway, I'd give the new YNAB a look.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:18 PM on January 3, 2016

I've used YNAB for a couple years now and it's amazing. Taught me so much and improved my financial situation and quality of life. I haven't used Mint in ages, but unless they've changed, Mint is about tracking the money you've spent. YNAB is about tracking the money you have and how you want to use it so that you can properly plan how to spend it and save it.
posted by davejh at 5:54 PM on January 3, 2016

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