One of the most important habits that you should adopt now, is to regularly track expenses. I was totally lost before having this habit.
Many years ago, I used to spend all my monthly income on stuff that I didn’t really need, besides my business investments. And I didn’t worry about it at that time, because I was young, not married yet, and had no clear personal goal in life.
I have always felt that my employer will always keep me in the company, until retirement. No matter what!
However, I felt frustrated the day I wanted to marry my wife, and I didn’t have enough money to cover marriage expenses. How come I didn’t have money, although I had a job for 8 years.
I didn’t save enough money for any future plans. And I dealt with all expenses as they are all essential stuff.
Until, I realized that I have to write expenses on a daily basis. And that was even before meeting my wife.
How Did I Start to Track Expenses?
I tried to write down the daily expenses at the end of each page of my planner. Every day!
After doing so for many years, I got lost. I wanted to find what exactly was eating up all my income. So, I had to sum up all the days of the months “manually” to get the total expenditure for the month. But still couldn’t categorize the expenses or find the leak.
It was a very heavy manual work, and it wasn’t efficient at all.
So, I tried to use spreadsheets to manage the expenses of a certain personal project including marriage itself. But although it was very helpful, it included many manual tasks as well.
To be able to keep track of expenses on a spreadsheet, I had to write expenses on paper or my smart phone while I am away, then migrate them to the spreadsheet when I get back home. So, again it was extra work.
Then, I had to search for a solution. A friend recommended a mobile application, to enter expenses once they occur, and later run on-demand reports to figure out the expenses behavior.
Then, the operating system on my mobile crashed and took all the data with it.
AndroMoney Gave Me Control
I soon discovered another awesome app called AndroMoney, which I recommend for your personal finances and expenses tracking.
I started using it one year ago, since the beginning of 2017, and it was very useful since then.
The interface is very nice, and the features really helped me to easily track and control my expenses.
You can add your accounts, whether they are real bank accounts or virtual accounts that you made up to categorize your money.
Mainly, you can add a new entry from the first screen you get, which is normally the transactions of the day. This can be changed to the transactions of the week, month or even a year.
Once you start adding the entry, you will notice that you can choose if it is an expense, income or transfer transaction from inside the entry screen. Which is very handy.
Of course you will see the default currency that can be changed easily. The date and time. And many other categorization fields.
Those fields are the category, the account, the project, the payee and if the transaction is one time or periodic.
You can also add some notes, and choose whether you want to include the entry in the account total and budget. Yes, I said budget!
So, back to the main options. You will find on the main menu four main features as follows:
The account screen shows a summary of all your accounts, total assets, total liabilities and balance. And from there you can get access to each account as well to find the entries of that specific account.
You can add a new account and choose its type, cash, bank or card. And also, you can specify the opening or starting balance. currency. and some notes.
Of course you can edit or remove existing accounts as well.
What I love about this area, is that it helps me have some control on my expenses. It alerts me when I reach a certain amount of expenses, on a specific category, that has a preset budget. I can choose to ignore the alert. But at least I have someone “or something” that let’s me know that I am wasting money.
From the main budget screen, you can set a fixed monthly budget, and it will automatically calculate the yearly, weekly and daily budgets based on that. Of course it is not very accurate to set daily and weekly budgets based on a total monthly budget. Because you can buy all your grocery on week 1 of the month, and spend very less during the rest of the month.
However, it is just an estimate of how to stay within the budget, if you can spend equally every day.
You can set the threshold amount, where you want to get the alert. And you can set the percentage of the budget you want to allocate, for each category as well. Which is a very awesome feature.
You have two category levels only. The parent categories and the sub-categories of the parent categories. It is nice to avoid over complicating. But sometimes I find myself adding two semi-identical categories and naming them in away as if they are related. Just because I can’t add more levels of the sub-categories.
I believe they should consider allowing more levels, to make it more usable.
You can choose icons for each category, to visually identify them inside your entries lists, and the reports as well. Which is very cool.
And categories can be created for income, expense and transfer types separately.
Here is the part that I love. I keep entering the transactions daily and forgetting about them. Then anytime I need to check my expenses or check last month’s trends I just open the reports screen and have fun viewing my spending behavior.
Then, I can take decisions based on those nice graphical reports.
The reports available are Pie Chart, Trend Chart and Bar Chart reports.
You can choose expense or income or both for your report. You can specify the period “date from to” of course. And you can filter based on accounts, expense or income categories, transfer, project, Payee or Payer or note.
The reports are very flexible and comprehensive for personal expense tracking.
And finally, the application has a lot of settings and configurations that are very helpful like: notifications, automatic backup, first day of the week, start day of the month, color picker, date format, auto-fill by category on transaction entry, password lock, default currency and auto-sync with the web interface on exit.
So you can check your data from the web interface as well, even if your mobile hardware or software crashes your data is safe.
All those features that I now enjoy are free, although you will see a small Google Ad at the bottom. But you can hardly notice it actually.
Tracking expenses is very essential if you want to save money or really buy things that matter. Without having any control on expenses, you will normally be broke most of the time, because you will just follow impulsive buying decisions, thinking that you will always have money. Which is not true.
That’s about your personal expenses. So, what about your family? If you keep buying things that every member in your lovely family wants, just to make them happy. You will eventually make them miserable, when you tell them later that you have zero money, when they really need it for important stuff like medication or school or even going on a yearly family vacation.
Got my point?
Start using AndroMoney today, it is free. And let me know if you have any questions about it or about tracking expenses in general. If you have any questions about AndroMoney, I will answer them as a loyal user. Please post them in the comments below.