Yet another budget app question
November 10, 2018 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Looking for an extremely lightweight shared budget app.

My husband and I recently took a look at our spending using Mint and determined that after fixed and non-optional expenses we have $x to spend on discretionary expenses each month if we want to meet our saving goals. We are currently routinely exceeding $x and would like this to stop. Hence the need for a budget app.

However our needs for this budget app are extremely simple but with the complication that we want to be able to share the budget. That is, I want to us to be able to pull from a shared sum at the start of the month, categorize each expense loosely (like eating out, clothes etc.) and for both of us to be able to see each other's spending. We do our heavy lifting budgeting elsewhere so we really don't need things like bill tracking, bank account syncing etc. Think your simple envelope system (though we don't really want to have to assign the money to a particular category to start ala YNAB - just one pot to spend over the course of the month) with sharing capabilities. The app Unspent is perfect except no ability to share. Any ideas?
posted by peacheater to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
How about a shared Excel or Sheets file? Just put the shared amount at the top of a column, and each time you spend, note the reason, and subtract the amount.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:42 AM on November 10, 2018

Really want something we can keep on a phone and that would be easy to use. An Excel sheet would be too clunky.
posted by peacheater at 8:47 AM on November 10, 2018

Other than the cost I’m not sure why YNAB wouldn’t work for this. You don’t need to follow their “rules”. Just make $x your “available to budget”, start each category at zero, and when you add a transaction, increase that category’s budget. “Available” will go down accordingly.

Or don’t even worry about the category budgets going negative. Have a single account, and the summary page will show you how much you’ve spent in total that month.
posted by supercres at 8:49 AM on November 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'd use Keep for this. Just create a new note each month and each of you update it when you spend. then transfer to your heavy-lifting budget app when the time comes.

Dollarbird is the only collaborative budget app I can think of. But I've never used it--it's just on my list of apps to check out (and then I came up with a totally different accounting system)
posted by crush at 9:02 AM on November 10, 2018

I’d just make a separate bank account (or credit card) for all of and only your discretionary spending, and then just look at the account history and balance as you go.
posted by Andrhia at 11:44 AM on November 10, 2018

I would advise against YNAB. To be honest, the idea of spending $83.99 annually on a budgeting tool seems to defeat the point of watching one's finances. What was wrong with Mint, though?
posted by Delia at 11:52 AM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Splitwise might work for this, it's designed to track shared expenses. My roommate and I have used it since before we shared a home and it's saved our friendship.
Even with my free account I can see a monthly breakdown by category, my roommate went for the paid account and go do more fancy stuff like scan a receipt to be itemized which we use for groceries.
Transactions can be entered as simply as "Person A paid $ for Stuff X". It remembers what category you've list for 'Stuff X', and even displays how much you've spent in that category month to date vs the previous two months.
posted by buildmyworld at 12:04 PM on November 10, 2018

I am in love with Tiller and you might like it too. It can do all that and the interface is clean, simple, and minimal. It's the custom spreadsheet I used to try to build, only way better and it actually works. It has an annual cost, but there's a 1-month free trial. THe learning curve is short.
posted by Miko at 6:48 PM on November 10, 2018

What country are you in? My husband and I recently opened a shared Monzo account and we love it.

I want to say, though, that for budgeting (ie, planning how you'll use your money), for me nothing beats a spreadsheet. We have a shared Google doc and it works perfectly. I've tried every budgeting app out there and nothing beats the Google doc.

For tracking, though, which is what you describe in your question I think it's easiest to find a bank with a really excellent app.

But I think people confuse tracking with budgeting all the time. IMHO, you can do all the tracking in the world, looking at the money you spent retroactively, but it rarely makes a difference. Budgeting, on the other hand, is planning how you want to use your money ahead of time. If your concern is that one of you is overspending and the other isn't, the answer might be multiple bank accounts. Have your joint account, A SEPARATE ACCOUNT FOR SAVING, and each have a solo account. Plan your budget (how much your shared expenses are - mortgage, insurance, utilities, groceries, SAVINGS etc). Keep the money you need for shared expenses in the joint account, send savings to your savings account, then divide whatever's left into your separate accounts.

So basically you do the heavy lifting ahead of time by budgeting, then you can track your spending using the bank's app.
posted by nerdfish at 1:32 AM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

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