Another Christmas has passed and once again you’re wondering where you hard earned money has gone. Well, wonder no more! TrackMySPEND is a free app from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) that is simple and can go a long way toward helping you set a spending goal – and stick to it.
TrackMySPEND is available for iPhone/iPad and Android and once installed requires just a few steps to get it running. You need to create a user account so you can back-up your data and a powerful feature is that by using the same account, you can share information between multiple mobile devices; thus keeping a real-time running tally of a common spending goal.
How does it work? In Settings you enter your basic information; like the spending cycle you want to use (weekly/fortnightly/monthly/yearly/none), start date, spending limit (very important!) and if you want to include the Need/Want feature. This latter item is psychologically powerful, as every time you enter a purchase you have decide if it was a need or a want.
Once this basic information is entered, the home page displays a long bar at the top that represents your spending limit for your chosen spending cycle.
For example, let’s say you’ve got $2500 to last you a month. The home page bar displays $0 at the far left and $2500 at the far right, with the start and finish dates beneath them. Cleverly, the app breaks the length of the bar into segments, which in this example equates to 31, representing the days in January.
As the month progresses these segments (days) are filled in and if your spending doesn’t exceed the cumulative total to that point it displays a green line, showing you’re within your targeted rate-of-spending. The app also displays, in large numbers, a running total of your spending (above the bar) plus how much of your budget remains and how many days until the end of the period (below the bar).
However, if you have a big expense or just spend too much, the green line turns orange and races ahead of the filled-in segments, showing you how much of your future spend you’ve used up and how many segments until you’ll catch up (if you don’t spend any more!). Exceed your total planned spend for the entire period and the line turns red, letting you know you’ve really stuffed up.
But wait, there’s more...
When you enter individual items you allocate them to one of a number of pre-set categories and sub-categories; such as Groceries and then either Supermarket, Butcher, Fruit & Veg, etc, with custom sub-categories an option. You also have to choose if it’s a Need or Want, and can save it to Favourites (the most frequently used of which display on the home page).
As the month (or whatever spending cycle you’re using) progresses you can go to the summary section, which displays the various spending categories in bar-graph form, with Needs in black and Wants in orange and a running total at the bottom of the page. It’s another powerful visual indicator of your spending habits and one that can make you feel quite guilty!
You can also view your spending in the History section, which displays a day-by-day list of the individual items you’ve bought.
My wife and I use this app and are now in the habit of entering purchases in a batch, usually towards the end of the day. We then press the Log-In/Synch Data button (wireless or 3G required) and like magic, our individual spending is merged and our overall progress displayed, with details of each other’s purchases for that day (I can’t believe she bought those shoes...).
TrackMySPEND is a genuinely useful app that makes living within your means that little bit easier. Highly recommended, make it your New Year’s resolution to download it today and take control of your finances (I STILL can’t believe she bought those shoes...).
For the full article download Issue 17 of iMotorhome eMagazine by clicking on the link below.