Home Budget Tracker Tool is LIVE!!!
- June 29, 2022
- by Angela
At Wealth Meta we wanted to create three tools to track, monitor, and analyze our personal finances. Our third tool - the Home Budget Tracker is now live! It works like any personal finance / accounting program to track your account balances, build a budget and monitor spending. It is entirely cloud based via the web. All data is encrypted in flight and at rest, and is securely backed up. It works on any size screen, mobile, tablet, and desktop.
This project has been many months in the making, but we are far from done. The road map includes adding lots of additional features and integrating all three tools together more closely. Right now the price is FREE - zero to you. Our business model is to sell reasonably priced premium subscriptions and limited ad space. The alternative is to keep it free for customers but sell your data. However we are firmly against going that route. Since all staff personally use the WM tools, we don’t want the data being sold either. Again, right now it is 100% free to use. Eventually we will add an optional paid tier which will eliminate ads and unlock additional data/features. Users who join during this initial period will get a discounted premium subscription offer when we are ready.
Our other two tools are:
- The Net Worth Dashboard allows you to get a picture of your investable net worth across all retirement and brokerage accounts. It does not connect to brokerage accounts directly (you enter what you have), but it does use publicly traded tickers to get automatic price updates.
- The Income Spending Simulator allows you to enter some figures for the future and see where you wind up. It can answer questions like are you on track to retire, can you retire early, what impact does buying a house or taking a splurge vacation have on your overall financial health. It can be pretty addicting to play with once you get the hang of it.
Now back to budgeting… Many people, whether living alone or having a family, have trouble keeping track of their daily expenses. My dad always used to ask - where does all the money go? Without a budget tracking tool, it is pretty hard to answer that question. Given this was back in the 90’s he went out and bought a copy of Quicken for Windows 95. It was a clunky program but it did the job. As the family started tracking expenses it became more clear that most money was going to rent and groceries. We also discovered a significant chunk was going to beer and cigars. This actually prompted my dad to monitor that situation more, and he eventually quit both bad habits.
Fast forward to 2022, there are dozens of budget tracking tools out there. Quicken is still a big name, but quite expensive. Honestly too expensive for what it does and the lack of privacy. There are many free tools as well, but with any free tool, you are the product, and your data is being sold. We wanted to make it easy for anyone, on any budget to keep track of their expenses, in a secure and easy to use tool. So, we came up with the Home Budget Tracker. Below I will explain how to use it.
If you haven't been able to keep track of your monthly expenses so far, a budget tracker is a great tool to help you do just that. Here are some of the main categories you should consider in your budget:
This is the first section of the tracker that has several items related to the cost of maintaining the house. These costs include:
- Renters insurance - If you are renting, this covers your belongings in case of a fire or natural disaster. Generally the policies are pretty affordable and worth the cost.
- Mortgage - if you are buying a home you would enter this instead of rent above.
- Homeowners insurance - similar to renter’s insurance but covers the house, your belongings, and liability in case someone gets hurt on your property and you are at fault.
- HOA - applies if you have a condo or live in a gated community. HOA stands for “home owners association” is an organization where homeowners jointly pay maintenance fees for units or neighborhoods. The HOA is run by homeowners and unpaid volunteers who represent the board of directors that oversees the management of the HOA.
The second section is related to food costs. In this section, the costs are divided into two parts:
- Groceries (eating at home) - there can be a lot of savings to be had in the food category with grocery shopping if it is done intelligently and you plan ahead for certain meals and watch for coupons.
- Restaurants (eating out) - restaurants can be spendy but let’s face it cooking at home every day is a recipe for burn out.
This is the third section where you can calculate household expenses.
- Maintenance - can be next to zero if you are renting, but if you own a home welcome to the “joys of home ownership” with this category.
- Miscellaneous - you know that you need to set aside a certain amount for household maintenance, but also for supplies, and in addition, there are always some costs that suddenly appear and you need to set a budget for them just in case.
This is the fourth section in this very useful tracker and it deals with transportation costs. Transport costs include:
- Car Payment
- Electric Charging
- Auto Insurance
- Bus Pass
Some transportation costs are on a daily basis, some are on a weekly basis, and some costs are monthly.
In the entertainment section, this is where you budget for having fun!
- Date nights
This section lists personal expenses, which includes:
- Gym membership
- Personal care - examples include haircuts / salons, shampoos, soaps, makeup and other things necessary for personal care.
- Miscellaneous - are all other expenses that fall under personal expenses.
Medical costs include costs for:
- Health Insurance
- Doctor's visits
Utilities are another important “must have” section. Utility costs include:
- Cell phone
These are the business expenses you have if you have your own private business. What are these costs? These costs include:
- Office supplies
- Bank fees
If you have children you know they are not cheap. Budget items related to kids include:
- Day care
- After school care
- Activities (tutoring, sports, clubs, etc)
- College Savings
Your budget categories are completely up to you, but we hope the above categories gave you some ideas. It is easy to miss something. Once you start tracking your expenses you'll be able to answer the question "where does all the money go?" and then you can start to fine tune your spending decisions.
Conclusion: If you want to easily track and project your expenses, you should definitely check out our Home Budget Tracker. You can start from scratch or you can import data from Excel or QIF format.