By Lesauf | September 12, 2020
Or why I do track my expenses
I think many people simply manage their finance by making sure they still have some money available at any time. I used to do it myself, but I got tired of being surprised at how much I spent, without knowing where I all used it. It is true that every month I have my budget well established like a shopping list, but it did not always reflect my real expenses. So about three years ago I decided to track down my expenses in a month.
What I discovered really surprised me. For example, everyday transportation expenses were using about 10% of my money. In my budget I had not allotted that much for transportation. I also noted some other places were I was going over my budget (or my budget were not realistic). I then decided to continue doing it, and since, every month I sit down for some minutes and review, not my budget, but my ACTUAL expenses for the previous month and that determine what I will set as the budget for the next month. I have used three apps to assist me in that during these three years : Money Manager, Fentury and Wallet.
The first app I used to manage my finances. Practically free (You can unlock all the paid options just by sharing it. Pretty cool, huh?). Offline. Simple to use.
It immediately caught my attention and I had been happy with it for about two years. It is fully manual, I mean it would not even talk to you about linking your bank account. For me here in Cameroon, we do make most of our expenses in cash, so I stick with manual tracking.
What I did not liked (I discovered that I did not like it when I had to change my phone) is the fact that to synchronise your data with another phone you have to export a spreadsheet and manually import it on the other side. It is both a good and bad option. Good because they do not store your data on their servers, so if you care about confidentiality it may matter to you. Bad because the synchronisation has to be manually done. By that time I had many apps with that sort of synchonisation method, so every week or so I had to sit down and make some backup/sync in case I would lose my phone. I did not like it, so I decided to change.
- Free (by sharing)
- Works offline / Manual
- Option to export a spreadsheet file to store/open in another app
- No automatic sync with another phone
My second budget/expense tracker app. Completely free. Clean design. Automatic sync. Web app (so I can review my expenses on my computer right in the browser).
I am a bit surprised at how rare it is in the list of best finance apps. For me it is the best free manual expenses tracking app. Period. I do not use the bank account linking option. I use it completely manually. I am a bit worried at how rare the updates are on the android version (I do not know about the IOS version), but the app is at a pro level. Actually I reached to their customer service to understand why they do not maintain it and to know more about them. They explained me that actually they use Fentury to collect some sort of data for their other Bank oriented business or something like that, and that initially the app was having a paid subscription plan. They may or not bring back that subscription plan, but they assured me that for the main parts the app will remain free.
What I REALLY like in Fentury is their “Monthly Planning” feature. Basically, to budget you do not have to plan your expenses by category, but by usage. There are three usages : Must haves, Savings and Spendable. Really simple. They actually had a nice detailed blog post on Medium about it, but it seems to not be there. So basically you enter :
- Your net income
- How much you must spend in the month on “Must haves” expenses, like Rent, Food and all your systematic expenses (Some recommend about 40% of your income in that usage).
- How much you want to put toward “Savings” (Some recommend about 30% of your income in that usage)
Then Fentury consider the rest as “Spendable” and present you with how much you can spend everyday. So before making an unexpected expense you just check that you are within that amount and it should help you get control over your finances. They have a nice widget you can put on one of your screen to look at it without launching the app.
I started looking for another app because of the lack of the sharing functionnality. I want to have the opportunity to handle my finances together with my wife.
- Clean design
- Nice charts
- Automatic sync
- Web app version with more other options
- Monthly Planning unique/rare feature
- No sharing option
- No updates (for some times now)
Actually, since may 2020 now I am still testing Wallet. I am using it at the same time as Fentury. I know it is double work, but it shows how much I love Fentury. I think I consider wallet like a backup in case Fentury fail me. Usually I am a bit cautious with too good offers.
I love the Monthly Planning feature of Fentury so much that I replicated it on Wallet using their Budget feature. It involves a bit of work, but I really like to be able to see how much I can safely spend on a daily basis.
They threw in a nice offer, lifetime Premium account for the price of one year subscription. I took it. They push regular updates. They have some nice features like Debt Tracking, Shopping List in the mobile app, but not on their web app. I hope they will eventually add it.
It is weird, but I have not yet actually even started using their sharing option …
- Many basic features free
- Nice charts
- Automatic sync
- Group/Family sharing feature
- Debt Tracking
- More advanced features not free
You decide how you manage your finances, but if you are like me who is not afraid of taking note of every expense (manually), I think any of those three apps will greatly help you. I you have any comment feel free to drop it below, or to send me an email !