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Does your money often vanish without a trace — several days before your next payday? Are you tired of wondering, “Where does all the money go?” Have you been overdrawn on your bank account in the past 6 months?
If so, online spending tools can help you track your spending to answer that elusive question:
“Where does all the money go?”
The Discover Card Spend Analyzer is one online spending tool you can use to track your spending. If you are a graphs and pictures person, this program is perfect for you. A colorful pie chart breaks your spending into different spending categories, (I counted 13, but there may be more that aren’t showing up in the sample.) You can see at a glance where all your money is going.
You can view your spending for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, the past 2 years, or the entire calendar year at a glance.
A bar graph shows your spending history for a select number of months, with a smaller chart showing spending for the past 24 months. If your goal is to spend less to save more money or pay down debt, this shows you at a glance exactly how you’re doing with that.
Finally, a chart that looks like a bank statement shows an itemized list of purchases, plus the category that purchase falls into.
The best thing about this online spending tool is that you never have to input anything — it’s all automatic and linked to your Discover card.
The only drawback to this intuitive and user-friendly online spending tool? You have to use your Discover card for all your purchases, as it cannot track cash spending or spending from your bank account or other credit cards.
Citi introduced an online spending tracking program associated with its Forward credit card, the Spend Tracker. The Citi Forward Spend Tracker lets you track your spending in up to 5 categories that you select. This is nowhere near as broad as Discover’s Spend Analyzer.
What sets the Citi Spend Tracker apart is it also tell you how you stack up against your peers (those in a similar age bracket and income level) with your spending habits.
I would not recommend this spending tracker, because it’s not linked to your credit card — you have to input your estimates for the amount you spend in each category each month.
American Express offers an online spending and finance tracking system for small business owners, part of the Open line of business credit cards from American Express.
This robust Software as a Service (SaaS) finance tracker lets you tag transactions to create personalized categories of spending. Since you create the tags based on your spending habits, there are no limits to how many tags you can create. It can also automatically sort your spending into pre-set categories. If you have multiple CardMembers on your account, you can track individual spending or look at your entire account as a whole.
You can sort and categorize information to help with budgeting, invoicing and even taxes. American Express Open online statements also interface with popular bookkeeping software like QuickBooks, along with Excel documents. Export information from American Express Open into PDFs, Excel documents or quickbooks, or convert the information into charts and graphs for easy viewing and analysis.
The online statements permit you to sort and view spending categories and transactions in a number of ways.
You can view your spending by:
- time period
- your custom tags
- dollar amount
- transaction type (credits or payments)
- your custom tags
You can also sort and filter transactions in a number of ways:
The only drawback to this program? It’s only good for American Express Open CardMembers, and the card is a business credit card only.
As an online spending tracking tool, Mint.com is one of the most well-known. The program has a few glitches, but, in general, is one of the most effective tools I’ve found for tracking your spending and debt on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
It can take some time to set up Mint.com and link it to all your credit cards and bank accounts, but once it’s done, Mint.com tracks your spending automatically. It also sends you “warnings” when your bank account funds are low, and payment due date reminders for all your credit cards.
As of now, there is no way to manually input cash spending, which is one big flaw if you use cash for purchases. But it will track withdrawals from your checking account, so you’ll see you took money out, even if you can’t view exactly how you spent that money.
We talked about How to: Manage Your Money with Mint.com earlier this year, and will be posting updates as new features become available with this powerful SaaS (Software as a Service).
Whichever online spending tracker tool you use, the important thing is to take control of your finances by seeing how and where you spend money.