Let’s flashback to July 2017 when I badly needed a new smartphone as my then-smartphone had died on me. I spent one-month worth of my salary on a new smartphone and boy, does it feels great. But at the back of my mind, I felt a buyer’s remorse and told myself that if I had to spend that amount of money, then the smartphone better helps me to improve my financial.
That’s when I downloaded a bunch of expenses tracker apps but eventually settles on one that I felt good about: Wallet.
Flash-forward to 2020, it’s been close to 3 years now and I’m still using the same app. By using Wallet, I can track my spending and aggregate my data into my 2019 Analysis and 2017 Analysis post. Here’s my review on Wallet.
What is Spending Tracker?
Call it spending tracker, money tracker or financial tracker, they are the same and a tool to record where your money goes in terms of income and expenses. There are a few ways to track your money such as:
- Creating Excel sheets.
- Manually jotting down in your notebook/journal.
- Using an application (such as Wallet).
It does not matter which method you choose as they have the same objective that is to give you an understanding about your spending pattern.
Why Should I Track My Spending?
Tracking your spending can be quick or tedious depending on the level of details that you want. But you should have a clear objective of why you are tracking your spending. A mindless money tracking will get you nowhere unless you know what to do with the data.
At the very basic, tracking your spending allows you to be conscious of where your money is going. Before I start tracking my spending, it is difficult for me to recall where has my money gone into and how much of it is spent unnecessarily. With tracking, you are forced to be aware of your money whereabouts and amount.
After a couple of weeks, you will start to see a pattern on your spending habit. It is now easier to identify where did the bulk of your money go. Is it on food? entertainment? shopping? Or transportation.
If you can see the pattern of your spending, creating a weekly or monthly budget is much easier as they are your habit and they will not deviate much from one month to another. Reducing your spending will be easier now that you know which categories you tend to overspend on.
Tracking your spending is the first step towards financial freedom. And for me, I like to use the Wallet app.
Wallet App: Overview
The app has a freemium model in which they are free, but offer a few extra features for a fee. I’ve been using the free version close to 3 years now and I did not have the urge whatsoever to upgrade to the premium version.
The premium version offers few extra features such as unlimited accounts, unlimited bank account syncs and multi-user collaborations. The full premium features and prices are shown in the screenshot:
Right off the bat when opening Wallet, we can see the application’s flat and minimal design which screams modern. You will be greeted by a “homepage”, which neatly summarises your accounts in a series of “cards” such as expenses structure, your last 5 records overview and balance trend. They are meant as a quick summary of your financial in-a-glance. You can add or remove “cards” to this homepage.
You can create a few accounts for multiple purposes such as for daily expenses, entertainment, etc. I only have a daily account, which includes ALL of my expenses and then two more accounts that I created for my trip to Indonesia and Nepal.
The expenses structure summarise your expenses in a pie chart within an adjustable time frame. I like to view in a monthly format so I can mentally compare my expenses with my monthly budget. It is a visual summary to show whether you have overspend or underspend your money in some category.
The last records overview shows your last five expenses also within an adjustable time frame. This is a quick glance meant to keep you aware of your latest money spending. It is also a great way to check whether you have already logged your latest purchases or not.
Balance trend shows your spending trend within an adjustable time frame in a line-graph. I usually set between 6-month or 1-year time frame just to get a macro view on my financial progress.
Spending Tracker Made Easy
Straight from the “homepage”, there is a “+” floating button which you can tap to create a template, transfer a transaction between accounts and to enter a new record.
Creating a template allows for shortcuts so that you don’t have to enter the same details each time. Transfer allows you to transfer a transaction between your accounts and the new record allows you to create a new expense or income.
When creating a new record, choose whether it is an expense or income, enter the amount and select the category. I always add more details to each record such as the payment methods and labels so it is easier for me to filter through my spending later.
There is a variety of categories which you can classify your spending into. However, you need the Premium version if you want to create a custom category. One workaround to avoid buying the Premium version is by using a label instead. You can create as many labels as you need.
Creating a label is as simple as tapping the “Add label” button and enter the label title.
What Makes a Great Tracker?
A good spending tracker is not great unless they have a good data aggregation and visualisation feature and that is plenty in Wallet. All expenses and income are summarised into charts and graphs for your interpretation and analysis.
You can view the data for different categories under the statistics options such as balance, outlook, cash-flow, spending and reports.
In balance, Wallet shows your account balances and compares the amount against the past period. Here, you can determine whether you are doing better or worse than before.
Outlook shows your upcoming payments and Wallet automatically forecast your future balance by projection. I did not set for any planned payments in Wallet and hence, there is no data in the outlook section of my Wallet. I still think it is a good feature if you like to know how much you are supposed to have in your accounts by the end of the week/month/year.
This is my probably favourite feature in Wallet. Cash-flow tells you whether you are in the red (expenses > income) or green (income > expenses) within your selected time frame. Then, there is a cash-flow trend which shows the period when you save more or less money.
Cash-flow is one of the most important metrics in your personal finance. Spending less than what you make is the key to healthy finance. Lastly, there is a line chart to compare your cashflow against the previous time frame.
The spending tracker summarises your spending according to categories and labels. It also highlights five of the biggest spending within your selected time frame. You can explore deeper within each category to see the exact breakdown of your spending.
Lastly, Wallet compiles your spending data and break it down further into “Must”, “Need” and “Want”. “Must” and “Need” are your fixed costs such as rent, utilities, groceries and fuel. “Want” is your variable cost which you can reduce to increase your savings.
Report section summarises your income, spending and cash flow in a table. Good for no-frills kind of summary.
Apart from being a great spending tracker and data aggregation, Wallet also comes with 4 additional features which are:
Goals allow you to create savings goals for a holiday trip, a new vehicle, a new home and emergency fund. Unlike Maybank My Goal feature, Wallet goals cannot automatically pull money from your bank account. You have to manually update your progress in the application.
You can log debts in the “debts” section to better manage your money. They are divided by “active”, which is the on-going debts and “closed”, the one that you already settled. Both sections are further divided by the money that you borrowed and the money that you lent someone.
3. Shopping Lists
You can also create a shopping list in the app if you want. I’m not using this feature and prefer to use my to-do app instead for my shopping list.
4. Wallet Life
Wallet Life is the “blog” part of the application where the Wallet team curates money tips, interesting budget trivia and book reviews. This is a new feature that I recently discovered after a recent update. I welcomed the addition and think they are a great feature to enhances my financial literacy.
Wallet is an excellent spending tracker application with minimal interface design, intuitive user experience even for a first-timer. For a free version, they do have tons of features and the data aggregation alone makes the application worth of your time. Definitely recommend this app to anyone who is starting to track their spending.
Tracking your spending is time-consuming but it is important for your financial success. Wallet app is a tool to achieve that success but you need to be disciplined and consistent enough for it to be useful.
ACTIONABLE TIPS: Download Wallet app and start logging all of your spending for today. Try to keep it consistent and review your data by the end of the week. Additionally, read my 2019 Spending Analysis to give you an idea on how to compile and use the data for your own analysis.
What is your method to track your spending? Share with me your strategies in the comment section below. Additionally, do share this post within your Twitter and Facebook circle so that they can start to be aware of their spending.