Author Topic: Best freeware application to track spending?  (Read 1989 times)

Aggie1999

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Best freeware application to track spending?
« on: March 02, 2017, 02:20:20 PM »
Can someone recommend a good freeware application to track spending? I'd like to keep better track how much I am spending on food, gas, etc per month. I am fine with entering the data myself. I won't use something like Mint until they and the financial institutions support something like read only API keys. No way am I entering all my account login/passwords into Mint and the like.

Web based or Windows based application is fine. Just gotta be free.

Thanks.

bacchi

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2017, 02:51:19 PM »
https://www.gnucash.org/

It's not as UI friendly as YNAB but it's good enough. It has an Android app, too.

neo von retorch

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2017, 02:55:23 PM »
Best?

I don't know best. I've re-written my own web-based application from scratch. Probably not ready for prime-time, but you can take a look if you'd like: https://fi.retorch.com/
I'd like to get a few early users on here that can provide feedback.

The first-time sign up wizard will set up account types, categories/category groups and an account. Can create recurring transaction reminders that make it easy to track things as they happen, and to predict how much will be in accounts going forward.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 02:57:10 PM by neo von retorch »

RWD

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2017, 02:57:09 PM »
I've been using GnuCash (open source, which is better than freeware) to track all my finances since 2012. It's been working very well.

elaine amj

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2017, 02:57:26 PM »
I gave in and paid for YNAB. I do like that I don't have to enter passwords (I was hopeful for Mint but that was a no-go) but it was important to me to be able to download qfx statements from each bank to reconcile my accounts properly. I manually input my transactions about 75% of the time and the reconciling catches the rest.

jim555

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2017, 03:09:15 PM »
I use LibreOffice Calc spreadsheet to track expenses.  Dates down the side, categories across.  Low tech.

blub

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2017, 07:24:47 PM »
You can use a spreadsheet in Google Docs.

MoonLiteNite

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2017, 12:49:06 AM »
I just have used google sheets.
But recently have signed up with mint.com
Pretty cool things over there. easy to break down EVERY pending and do trends and stuff

akzidenz

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Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2017, 11:34:02 AM »
I also use a Google spreadsheet, with some lightweight formulae to calculate things like: what percentage of my spending this week was on groceries? how does that compare to last month? what is my entertainment spending over the year? (versus per month, since I'll often buy concert tickets one or two months early, so I can wobble between spending a hundred+ in February to spending nothing in March, when I actually attend the shows)

The nice thing about a spreadsheet is that you can learn a handful of formulae and then do something super custom for how you're used to thinking about your money. For quick entry from a phone, you can set up a Google form that posts to a spreadsheet—less fiddling when you're out and about.

Spork

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2017, 11:42:25 AM »
Let me second third a few above:  gnucash, hands down.

I'm not entirely sure when I started using it... but it's getting close to 20 years now.  (My transactions go back farther than that, but I converted from other packages).

It's much more "correct" when it comes to accounting, thus in time you will be nudged to track things correctly.  It will try to force you to understand the differences between assets/liabilities/expenses/income -- which is half the battle for correctly sorting out savings rates, net worth, etc.

The reporting is not as nice as some of the other packages out there...  I ended up writing much of my own reporting packages over the last 15-20 years.  But... the fact that it is all stored in a nice parsable xml file makes this fairly easy to do.

Vanguards and Lentils

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2017, 02:27:20 PM »
+1 for gnucash. I had used Mint before this, which was nice, but once I wanted to understand and represent my finances in more depth, it was essential to learn some accounting. I've been using it for 1 year and 3 months now. The reporting and searching features are amazing. Spork said it best in that it forces you to understand assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. The benefit of overcoming the learning curve at first, is that you get the most accurate picture of how your money behaves, and that in turn lets you know which areas would be best to work on.

Also I got my tax bill correct to within $2 (it would have been perfect if IRS didn't round the intermediate numbers to the nearest dollar...)

Aggie1999

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2017, 05:45:44 PM »
Downloaded GNUCash and entered all my expenses for Jan and Feb in it. Seems pretty nice. Once entered it was interesting to see where money goes. Lot of little things one doesn't think about that add up.

camillus

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2017, 06:35:24 PM »
Just want to give an alternative perspective on giving a program like Mint your online passwords. There is risk to this, sure. You trade this risk for a gain in increased security by means of higher and more frequent surveillance. You enter a PIN on your phone and you can scan all your accounts (some 20 for me), and easily find fraudulent activity and take action against it. Can you say you check all of your accounts every day for fraudulent activity?

I'm not sure it's rational to fear a mint data breach. They have bank level (or higher) encryption. If someone has sophisticated enough ability to penetrate mint, they could just as easily breach wells fargo, chase, etc. They'd already have all your information. If someone steals your personal device, they still won't be able to access mint - or they would be just as likely to figure a way to access mint from your laptop than your actual bank account info.

So in my mind, little is actually lost with mint.com in terms of security, and the gain is increased surveillance. You might just be safer giving up your passwords :-)

Just an alternative perspective.

Also, I have YNAB 4 and use it for the purpose you describe. In my opinion, nothing beats the YNAB method. My above diatribe on mint was not an endorsement. Mint is ultimately an advertising platform that can do budgeting. YNAB is hardcore zero-based budgeting FTW.

However, I'd trust mint's security over YNAB's.

Hawkeye

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2017, 05:21:08 PM »
Currently, I am using Mint but I am in the process of migrating my data to another solution, because I don't feel comfortable with them having access to all my financial data.

I am planning to migrate to another free / open source solution Grisbi Finance Manager. It shares a design philosophy with gnucash but appears to be slightly more modern looking. Happy so far.

www.grisbi.org/

RWD

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Re: Best freeware application to track spending?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2017, 06:26:06 PM »
I am planning to migrate to another free / open source solution Grisbi Finance Manager. It shares a design philosophy with gnucash but appears to be slightly more modern looking. Happy so far.

Grisbi hasn't been updated in three years... Based on the screenshots I personally think GnuCash looks more polished and user friendly.