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One minute guide: Ways to track your expenses

Many banks and financial institutions provide expense tracking and money management tools for customers as well as non-customers

Listing expenses helps you control outflows and inflows. When you have details, you will not only be able to budget better but also identify unnecessary spending. To do this you can either write down your expenses or use products and features such as apps and expense tracking tools by banks and money management companies. Here are three ways to track your expenses. Pick the one that suits you best.

CREDENTIAL-BASED AGGREGATION

Many banks and financial institutions provide expense tracking and money management tools for customers as well as non-customers. For instance, ICICI Bank Ltd’s My Money, Yes Bank Ltd’s Money Monitor and Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd’s MoneyWatch allow you to get a customised view of bank accounts, track expenses and also set budget limits. MyUniverse, a personal finance platform launched by Aditya Birla Money, allows you to do credential-based aggregation. In this, besides expenses, you can track performance of your investments too. Almost all such personal finance or expense tracking tools include charts that display spending habits.

To use these services you have to activate the expense tracking or management tools. Some allow you to do it on your Net banking platform, while others ask you to create a new login and password. Some automatically pull out your data, while others ask you to feed information. These products come at a cost.

SMS-BASED AGGREGATION

Some financial technology (fintech) companies allow you to auto track expenses. For instance, companies such as Walnut and Money View do this by pulling out data from the SMSs sent to you by your banks. These apps are designed for Andriod phones and are available on app stores. Once downloaded, the app will go through all SMSs in your inbox, collate data from the ones sent by your banks, and give you consolidate inflows and outflows. The accuracy of data depends on what the banks send. These apps will give you an overview of your spends, bank accounts, credit card use. Monthly expenses are given along with a list of shops you made payments to. It shows you how many times you withdrew cash at ATMs. It categorises spending into travel, shopping, food and drinks, health and groceries. You can also see the month-on-month spending trend.

But the information is limited to what is available on SMS. These don’t work smoothly with irregular expenses.

MANUAL PROCESS

Most people prefer to manually track expenses. You can either maintain a journal or use tools such as an Excel sheet on your computer or mobile phone. When outside, you could use your phone to take notes. But to successfully track expenses, be disciplined and note down all spending diligently and over a reasonable period of time.

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