Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Mike Scott
Posts: 2084
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:45 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Mike Scott »

I review credit card statement transactions for potential fraud before paying them. Since I handle most of the financial transactions, my wife does a traditional reconciliation each month on our primary bank account. She can see the money come in and go out for general info and questions as well as check my record keeping and math. A secondary bank account only has 4 recurring automatic transactions per month so it's easy to monitor with a monthly log in.
minimalistmarc
Posts: 1397
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 4:38 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by minimalistmarc »

guppyguy wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 9:52 am
minimalistmarc wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:28 am We have a one fund portfolio, 1 bank account, 1 credit card. I check the balances regularly on their associates iPhone apps but it literally takes a few seconds. Other than that I don’t do anything.
Wow, that's pretty lean. So by one bank account you mean just a checking (no savings)? Why not a back up credit card? I've got two CC, just because I've had one hacked before and like having a spare if I need to complete a purchase in another country or something.
We pay for everything with the credit card and don’t keep much cash, but savings accounts in the U.K. don’t pay negligible interest anyway. Don’t feel the need for a back up Credit card but almost exclusively pay using Apple Pay these days.
JS-Elcano
Posts: 401
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2020 7:29 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by JS-Elcano »

I have a fairly expansive Excel book with the following sheets:
- 403b (updated biweekly)
- 457 (updated biweekly)
- RothIRA (updated biweekly)
- Roth403b (updated biweekly)
- VG brokerage (updated biweekly)
- networth (updated biweekly)
- annual expenses (living expenses updated monthly, income & taxes updated at end of year)
- Asset allocation (updated semi-annually)
- lifetime compilation (updated annually on December 31)

As far as I recall, I have never used an app to track my expenses down to the level of individual receipts. I tried my bank's budget tool once, but thought the effort faaaar exceeded the benefits and ditched it after a week. So, I only use excel to track how much I spend per month and how much that is averaged over the year. After several years of tracking I have a pretty good idea was is reasonable average spending per month for me and what I would consider unnecessarily excessive. So, if it gets a little out of hand I aim a little lower :mrgreen: As long as I meet my savings goals I do not worry much about what I do with the leftover money.
Gryphon
Posts: 262
Joined: Sat May 07, 2016 11:43 am
Location: Missouri

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Gryphon »

Kenkat wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 9:38 am For other investment type accounts, I don’t reconcile them monthly but just make sure the share balances match when I do Update i.e. Transaction Download.
Investment accounts I reconcile whenever I get a statement - some are monthly, some quarterly. There are usually one or two dividends to reconcile & I also check the total holdings for each investment to verify Quicken agrees.
Gaston
Posts: 211
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:12 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Gaston »

I am a bit anal about data privacy. If you use an app that stores its data in the cloud, then no matter what they tell you, you should assume they can access your data.
zie
Posts: 317
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2020 4:35 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by zie »

Once or twice a year I want to see how much $$'s I spent at a given vendor or across a few vendors. I'm unwilling to work constantly or spend money to make that easy, so I just download CSV and PDF versions of my transaction history once a year, and keep them around. That way I can always go look if I'm so inclined. For transaction security, I have every account set to notify me whenever a transaction takes place(usually via their phone app), so I get real-time security checking, so it's pretty easy to tell if a transaction happens I wasn't expecting.

So the things I actually care about on a regular basis:

* Ensure I have enough cash in the right account(s) to pay the bill(s) when due. So I try to minimize the places I have to regularly get $$'s to make this happen. I keep a single spreadsheet with the places $'s need to end up and any task(s) that need to happen to ensure the bills get paid when due. With eBills, account consolidation and the ability to do more transactions via CC, this keeps shrinking, thankfully.

* Track yearly spending to ensure I keep around a X% savings rate.

* Ensure my investing is allocated properly according to my AA and that I'm on track to meet my financial goal(s).

I do all of this with 2 sheets in 1 spreadsheet. The 1st handles the first 2(cashflow), done by month. The 3rd item(investing) I track in the second spreadsheet listing my financial goals, and where I'm at based on the data from the 1st sheet.

Perhaps in retirement I will grow to a 3rd sheet, but more than likely I'll just stop updating the 2nd one and still only have 2 to maintain.

The 1st sheet and the first 2 items above that I care about take me about 10m a month, which I usually do on the first of the month. The 2nd sheet almost completely updates itself and I only look at it to ensure I'm still on track during those 10m and sporadically otherwise throughout the year.

So maybe 3-4 hrs a year I spend, since I have to generate information to do my taxes which takes about an hour or two every year. That to me seems acceptable. Hopefully as time, technology and my spending habits change, I can simplify and reduce it further.
Whether rich or poor, a young woman should know how a bank account works, understand the composition of mortgages and bonds, and know the value of interest and how it accumulates. -Hetty Green
tonyclifton
Posts: 347
Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2020 5:25 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by tonyclifton »

I think it is reasonable to spend both time and money to manage household finances. How much is a personal decision. In this era of identity theft and fraud I think it is unwise to leaves accounts un-tended.

I made one simplification which was to remove the Schwab app and stock ticker app from my phone. The Schwab app is a good app but I viewed it as a risk and gives me one less reason to fiddle with my phone. The risk is from being able to use my phone to liquidate retirement accounts and potentially transfer to another compromised bank account - no password needed just a few fingerprint swipes. I also moved to Quicken after keeping my own home brew spreadsheets. The spreadsheets were more work than what Quicken requires. Now our tools are Quicken, one spreadsheet, and MaxiFi.
hachiko
Posts: 366
Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:56 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by hachiko »

I use personal capital to aggregate transactions from over a dozen credit cards and several bank accounts. Then I use excel to manipulate the data to catch subscriptions and check those subscription charges against a separate sheet in the same workbook that contains my "considered and approved" subscriptions to see if there are things I was planning on canceling but forgot to.

I also often have to search for transactions where I know the dollar amount I paid, or the vendor name, but not the card used. For example, if my laptop breaks 18 months after I bought it, it's easy to find what credit card I used because the data is all aggregated and I know I spent somewhere between 1k and 1.5k and since that amount is only a couple transactions a year, it's very easy to find the card used even if I don't remember where I bought it, so I can submit the extended warranty claim (this just happened this week). If I only had one credit card, this is not something that would be useful, so I think it is very dependent on individual situations. I don't care about frequent coffee purchases, but that type of information is just a byproduct of my primary purpose for aggregating the data.

I also use the automatic data manipulation to track card benefits to make sure I utilize everything by the end of the year (like Amex $200 flight credit, etc). I could of course do it manually, but aggregating in personal capital and downloading to excel to automatically manipulate saves me a lot of time.
mikeyzito22
Posts: 583
Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:42 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by mikeyzito22 »

Dottie57 wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:41 am
Gryphon wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:03 am
JohnFiscal wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:45 am A related question about this but somewhat tangential, Do people still "reconcile" and "balance" their accounts with monthly statements?
Yes, absolutely. I'm downloading the statements anyway for record keeping so it only takes an extra minute to reconcile in Quicken, and every once in a while I find that I made a mistake somewhere.
I have less than 10 transactions a month in checking. Not much to reconcile.

The 2 credit cards are where I need to verify info.
I hate to try to get us back on track, but the OP wasn't necessarily talking about "reconciling," as this thread has seemed to go off into that tangent. I do think that if you are a seasoned investor that lives below your means and have accumulated tons of equity, it may be not something you want to engage in. However, as an accumulator, I find budgeting and showing net worth accumulation, retirement probabilities, transactions, and all accounts in one space extremely helpful. I am in no way near Taylor, Abuss, or UpperNWGuy in worth. So, if an investor is still trying to figure things out and get your spending and contributions to a level that you are comfortable with, these "Shiny" Apps can be a great help. Seems the OP is past that point, and that is great!
Topic Author
guppyguy
Posts: 220
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:24 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by guppyguy »

@mikeyzito22

Your right, the original question was not necessarily how to simplify one's finances but how many metrics/reports one truly needs and whether the seduction of spending countless hours learning an aggregating app (such as Banktivity) is meaningful to one's life or just financial eye candy. I think it can be safely said there is something a little neurotic to checking one's portfolio/NW/spending continually that developers cater to. This isn't meant as a moral judgement, just a casual observation.

There is obviously a minimum amount of financial responsibility on required on everybody, however, I don't to spend my entire life watching it.
DIYtrixie
Posts: 101
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:11 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by DIYtrixie »

63humber wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:30 am In a somewhat related tangent, are there any recommended apps that can do 'what-if' testing for retirement related questions such as: when to take Social Security, Roth rollover, are annuity appropriate, gifting, tax implications...

I do some things in Excel, but am afraid its no better than asking myself a question. I'm bringing no new insight to the problem.

thank you
opensocialsecurity.com is a great choice for testing the effects of different SS claiming strategies. The primary author, Mike Piper, is a Bogleheads member.
UpperNwGuy
Posts: 6642
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:16 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by UpperNwGuy »

mikeyzito22 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:55 pm I am in no way near Taylor, Abuss, or UpperNWGuy in worth. So, if an investor is still trying to figure things out and get your spending and contributions to a level that you are comfortable with, these "Shiny" Apps can be a great help. Seems the OP is past that point, and that is great!
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! I am probably one of the lowest net worth people on this forum.

And you appear to have misinterpreted my prior post. I have been using either spreadsheets or Moneydance to control my personal finances for the last ten years. I think the shiny new apps are great.
flyfishers83
Posts: 218
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:08 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by flyfishers83 »

They definitely aren’t necessary. We keep a loose budget. By loose, I mean that I know what our regular expenses are and I add a healthy amount of extra each month. From there, I have a spreadsheet that tracks every account that I build out for the year. I assume zero gains and add regular retirement account contributions plus expected monthly taxable account contributions. I update monthly so can see how we’re tracking.

So, you can see that we have expected savings for the year established at the beginning of the year, and will know how we’re tracking. Works for us, and keeps from having to deal with details of individual transactions.
User avatar
gasdoc
Posts: 2005
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:26 am

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by gasdoc »

Kenkat wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:04 pm I overall enjoy using Quicken to manage things but am careful not to overdo it either. For example, I do not categorize receipts down to a detail level. If I have an expense for Wal-Mart, that goes into “Household”. If I have an expense for “Kroger”, that goes into “Groceries”. Do I buy groceries sometimes at Wal-Mart and household items sometimes at Kroger? Yes I do. Do I care that I don’t capture that nuance? No I do not.

I don’t really budget at all beyond just looking at total dollars in, total dollars out, are we good. But I do like having access to spending history; that has been a great tool as I am planning for upcoming retirement. I also value automatic downloads of credit card and investment transactions. A big time saver overall for me.

I probably spend an hour a week on it total; it’s worth it to me but my wife says when I die, she’s not doing “all this” anymore.

When I die, she can do whatever she wants. :wink:
I really couldn't have said this better.

gasdoc
mikeyzito22
Posts: 583
Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:42 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by mikeyzito22 »

UpperNwGuy wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 5:23 pm
mikeyzito22 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:55 pm I am in no way near Taylor, Abuss, or UpperNWGuy in worth. So, if an investor is still trying to figure things out and get your spending and contributions to a level that you are comfortable with, these "Shiny" Apps can be a great help. Seems the OP is past that point, and that is great!
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! I am probably one of the lowest net worth people on this forum.

And you appear to have misinterpreted my prior post. I have been using either spreadsheets or Moneydance to control my personal finances for the last ten years. I think the shiny new apps are great.
Sorry, I was just assuming. BTW, I do not think you are of the low net worth people on the forum. However, I'm glad you like the shiny new apps! :sharebeer
User avatar
crinkles2
Posts: 154
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2014 8:18 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by crinkles2 »

Not necessary, to the point. But I see it as a bit of a hobby, with ancillary benefits. It's just interesting to me.

I don't have any other hobbies, so there.
User avatar
camillus
Posts: 880
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:55 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by camillus »

My financial operating system includes the following:

YNAB to manage the budget (cash flow).
Personal Capital to monitor investments.
Google Sheets keeps an eye on my target asset allocation and annual tax.

Simplicity is important, but when something is your hobby you tend to complicate /gamify things a little bit.

Another element is that I'm still in the weeds in accumulation phase with little kids and many lifecycle goals left outstanding. I feel some responsibility to get things right.
51% US / 34% ex-US / 15% “bond”
chipperd
Posts: 1264
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:58 am
Location: here and now

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by chipperd »

guppyguy wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:10 pm I recently began evaluating Banktivity as a replacement for our current YNAB+Excel solution to managing all things family finance. I've gotten about a week into learning the program and setting up categories and budgets when it dawned on me: I could point to only a handful of actual benefits from all of these activities. I found myself staring at Banktivity because why then? Shiny reports? Gawking at our "wealth"? A neurotic tendency to balance everything? It appears to be a great app and this is not meant as a dig on that app as I could have picked any service out there, but what is really the purpose?

At 47 I've probably spent 10x the amount of time truly required to manage or monies....a trend I do not want to continue.

So to answer the question in the title, at least for me, no.

Who else has "burned the ship" or deleted the excel spreadsheet or flushed Quicken? What did you consider the essentials and what where the things/ideas that most got in the way?

For me all I really want to know is:
  • * General expense history (in order to determine eventual SWR)
    * Annual Net Worth tabulation...maybe/maybe not
    * Periodic asset allocation for risk mitigation...monthly?
    * Enough liquidity for bills and discretionary spending
I'd like to be able to put everything on the back of an envelope basically.

What am I missing?
I've taken a gander at some of those apps. Seem like a waste of time.
You're not missing a thing, in my opinion.
We track income, savings and spending, in general, on paper we keep in a folder on our shared desk. Once a month, if we are both motivated, the wife and I will look over that sheet of paper and see if we need to correct course in any way. After two years of that, some minor course corrections came of those discussions. The largest value in those discussions is a reduction in our financial anxiety (which isn't to high to begin with) and a reminder that while we are on the same page philosophically, the implementation of that philosophy comes in a variety of forms :shock: . I would be concerned an app would reduce the "need" for these discussions.
Never saw the need for the net worth calculation, other than to make me feel better about our financial lives after a large, unexpected expenditure. I kinda know that rough number off the top of my head as we live fairly simple lives from a financial standpoint (investments and cash + plus house + cars-remaining mortgage).
"A portfolio is like a bar of soap, the more it's handled, the less there is." Dr. William Bernstein
Nowizard
Posts: 3656
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:33 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Nowizard »

Personal view as an older person: We easily maintain very detailed ability to review expenditures with a credit card, bank account on which we pay bills by check and an on-line listing of our investments that is updated monthly or more frequently on occasion. The various apps and programs do provide much detail, but it is not necessary for us. However, programmers are always trying to include everything and are probably competitive with other programmers. For us, even all the various "technological helpers" that even flash things on our automobile screen such as "You have now been driving for three hours" are more annoying than anything. Simplicity and familiarity with older patterns continues to work fine for us.

Tim
User avatar
Monster99
Posts: 545
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:28 am

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Monster99 »

I still use the Microsoft Money program on my desktop computer - mostly for financial purposes. I track expenses in a broad manner, groceries, household, transportation, ect. But not down to individual receipts. Accounts have been growing faster than we have been spending but it is complicated psychologically to change your spending habits....🤔
Topic Author
guppyguy
Posts: 220
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:24 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by guppyguy »

So after quitting the Banktivity experiment I tried Quicken Premier for Mac. Ended getting a refund the same day.

I used Quicken about 15 years ago. I get the feeling that all app financial developers have trended towards gamifying the experience while seeking maximum user engagement at all times of the day. It sounds of a worthy cause, at first, until you realize that you don't need to be as connected to your finances as social media or your doorbell or your Amazon order status...etc.... Very dopamine dependent.

So that was the second strike against shiny money apps, first the time it would take to get everything set-up, second, I just don't want to look at my finances but maybe once a week.
lws
Posts: 354
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:12 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by lws »

No. They are not.

A simple spreadsheet will do.

This is a hobby for some.
crg11
Posts: 488
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:16 am

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by crg11 »

This thread is very interesting and timely to me. I've been thinking about how/why I need to track finances since YNAB decided to throw their early nYNAB customers under the bus with that recent sudden huge price increase. I tried several alternatives and they all required a significant investment in time to transition to, maintain, and/or warp my way of thinking about finances in a way that doesn't seem helpful/productive.

My current financial position has drastically changed from ~6 years ago when I first used nYNAB and ~8 years ago from when I became a Boglehead. I went from closely watching each transaction daily to sometimes only reconciling my accounts once or twice a month. It's turned from a game/challenge of how do I hit my savings goal while paying the bills to suddenly having some financial flexibility month to month. If I have that flexibility, do I really need to track every transaction?

I am really intrigued about drastically simplifying and reducing my dependency on shiny money apps. That would save me from paying ~$90/year for nYNAB, easily multiple hours a month in grunt work managing transactions, and greatly simplify things from a mental standpoint. As a busy parent, that is so appealing.

I think I would need to track:
- Net Worth
- Balance in individual accounts along with inflow/outflow
- Key bills
- Scan credit card / bank transactions for anything unusual on some set schedule

I bet I can get away with just a couple of spreadsheets that I update monthly or bi-weekly. That would be a win overall, I think. And there is probably room to simplify further from a # of credit cards / bank accounts standpoint too that I should explore.

Thanks all for a great thread to spark some ideas.
Topic Author
guppyguy
Posts: 220
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:24 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by guppyguy »

crg11 wrote: Sat Nov 27, 2021 3:54 pm This thread is very interesting and timely to me. I've been thinking about how/why I need to track finances since YNAB decided to throw their early nYNAB customers under the bus with that recent sudden huge price increase. I tried several alternatives and they all required a significant investment in time to transition to, maintain, and/or warp my way of thinking about finances in a way that doesn't seem helpful/productive.

My current financial position has drastically changed from ~6 years ago when I first used nYNAB and ~8 years ago from when I became a Boglehead. I went from closely watching each transaction daily to sometimes only reconciling my accounts once or twice a month. It's turned from a game/challenge of how do I hit my savings goal while paying the bills to suddenly having some financial flexibility month to month. If I have that flexibility, do I really need to track every transaction?

I am really intrigued about drastically simplifying and reducing my dependency on shiny money apps. That would save me from paying ~$90/year for nYNAB, easily multiple hours a month in grunt work managing transactions, and greatly simplify things from a mental standpoint. As a busy parent, that is so appealing.

I think I would need to track:
- Net Worth
- Balance in individual accounts along with inflow/outflow
- Key bills
- Scan credit card / bank transactions for anything unusual on some set schedule

I bet I can get away with just a couple of spreadsheets that I update monthly or bi-weekly. That would be a win overall, I think. And there is probably room to simplify further from a # of credit cards / bank accounts standpoint too that I should explore.

Thanks all for a great thread to spark some ideas.
Sounds like we are in the same boat.

FWIW...One thing that nYNAB has done (or not done depending on how you look at it) to make me look at things differently is providing a very very erratic direct import for our main/only bank (Alliant CU). I think the connection has broken about 10 times this year, each requiring emails and follow up emails. I've gotten very proficient at just downloading an OFX and dropping in the app.

So that got me thinking, what good is direct import/auto downloaded transactions? For years we just entered transactions manually (once a week or so) and reconciled when the statement came in the mail. It seemed like a very easy rhythm to things. But with phones and direct import, my goodness, if the transactions don't automatically show up in the app every morning the world feels like it is going to implode.......
Old Goat
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 8:09 pm
Location: West Michigan

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Old Goat »

I use Tiller to track expenses. I wasn't really in need of a budgeting app, but I specifically wanted a way to drill down on my expenses. I feel the information will be helpful in preparation of transition into retirement/empty nest.

Since I've used a spreadsheet to track my NW and break out of deferred/taxable/tax free accounts for years, the Tiller platform was just what I needed.
AlwaysLearningMore
Posts: 306
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:29 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by AlwaysLearningMore »

Gaston wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 9:38 pm ...If you use an app that stores its data in the cloud, then no matter what they tell you, you should assume they can access your data.
Indeed. We use an Excel spreadsheet (encrypted) and update accounts manually.
Retirement is best when you have a lot to live on, and a lot to live for.
yog
Posts: 374
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:57 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by yog »

The majority of our accounts are with Fidelity, and we use Fidelity’s free Full View, a subset of eMoney Advisor, to aggregate all our investment, banking, and credit card accounts & categorize expenses. Once we set up a few new categories for our unique expenses and created rules for our major uncategorized expenses, it is pretty much maintenance free.
Nate7out
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:06 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Nate7out »

I use the shiny money app (YNAB) in a contrarian way. I use it to help me spend more. I (we) are naturally frugal. It helps us to spend a little bit more on luxuries or discretionary items seeing it allocated in a category and seeing that all of our savings goals are being met.
Robdac
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:23 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Robdac »

We've been using Quicken for going on two decades. There is absolutely no doubt that it has helped us achieve financial success. In the early years it was a great tool to balance spending against income.

Today we use it mostly because of the ease of automatic downloads. We set it and forget it. We've eliminated 90% of the available categories and subcategories. We're down to fewer than twenty. We use it to broadly track spending which goes into a simple annual retirement planning spreadsheet.

No, shiny money apps aren't necessary. But, being the kind of person who is willing to put the work into a shiny money app (or spreadsheet, or envelope system, or notebook) is necessary unless you make a spectacular income and have simple desires.
NYCaviator
Posts: 481
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2016 5:06 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by NYCaviator »

I'm too young to remember the days of manually reconciling bank accounts, and maybe I put too much blind faith in the bank's ability to do math, but I check my accounts though the iPhone app a once or twice a week just to get a broad overview of the balances. I have text alerts on my accounts, so I know each time money is debited or credited, and can catch fraud quickly.

I also follow the "pay yourself first" rule where I set aside a fixed percentage for taxes and savings each time money comes in. I then set aside what amount I'll need for fixed expenses each month. I top up checking. The rest then goes into savings/investments.

I've really tried to find value in the money apps (Quicken / Banktivity / YNAB), but I always gave up because they seemed way too cumbersome and time consuming. Most credit cards give you a nice breakdown of your spending categories each month if you're curious.
michaeljc70
Posts: 8011
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:53 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by michaeljc70 »

I've been using Quicken for 25+ years. Is it necessary? No. Do I have any intention to stop using it? No. I am a facts and figures kind of person. I use it for informational purposes more than to change/shape my spending/saving behavior. I don't do budgeting by category, but have an annual spend that I try to roughly stick to.

What is the performance of my investments across all accounts over x time period? You cannot easily calculate that given different brokers/accounts, inflows, outflows, etc. Even if all your stuff is at Vanguard, you are limited to their options (I think ytd, 1 year, 3 year, etc). It is easy in Quicken.

Where did my money go? People tell me they know this without tracking it. That is nonsense for most people. We spend money on little things here and there that can add up. Unless you spend the same amount on groceries on a specific schedule, how do you know how much you are spending per year? I don't typically make adjustments based on what I see in Quicken, but I do make mental notes like "you are spending a lot more on x this year....is that intentional?"
Topic Author
guppyguy
Posts: 220
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:24 pm

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by guppyguy »

Robdac wrote: Mon Nov 29, 2021 7:13 am Today we use it mostly because of the ease of automatic downloads. We set it and forget it. We've eliminated 90% of the available categories and subcategories. We're down to fewer than twenty. We use it to broadly track spending which goes into a simple annual retirement planning spreadsheet.

No, shiny money apps aren't necessary. But, being the kind of person who is willing to put the work into a shiny money app (or spreadsheet, or envelope system, or notebook) is necessary unless you make a spectacular income and have simple desires.
I think the other thing is that apps like Quicken (and YNAB and Excel) have substantial learning curves and that simplification of one's finances doesn't mean going without using a shiny app. Once learned, somebody can make Quicken as complicated or simple as intended, like in your example.
User avatar
Free to Choose
Posts: 52
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:40 pm
Contact:

Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Free to Choose »

I try to start with the goals. Things like a car in 5 years, a house down payment, children's college education, and financial independence.

Once the goals are defined, I allocate the appropriate amount of money.

If I don't have the money available to invest/save, I find ways to earn more or reduce spending. A budget can help at this point.

If I can meet all of my well defined goals, I don't need a budget, especially if I pay myself first and live below my means.
Post Reply