Money makes the world go around… so goes the song.
However, it’s knowing how to manage the money that makes YOUR world go around that can make all the difference.
Money is considered by some to be a taboo subject to talk about, and in this episode I’m going to take a look at a budgeting tool that has helped me, and I’m sure will help you too, to understand where your money is going, and what you can do to manage it better.
In order to be in control of our finances, we need to understand our position at all times.
Whether we want to save money for a specific event, like a holiday or wedding; or we have monthly outgoings that seem to outstrip our income, the use of a planner has helped me to regain control.
I use a planner called MoneyDashboard, and it’s available on the web, and via the Google Play store for Android and the App Store for iOS.
MoneyDashboard is completely free to use; and I’ve been using it for the last few years.
Well, I say I’ve been using it - admittedly, I have only played with it; and it wasn’t until I got caught very short, that I dived in and spent some time working with it to add all the information needed.
MoneyDashboard is an aggregator. It’s important to point out that whilst it can ’see’ your accounts, it does not have the ability to withdraw any funds, nor move money around. It is purely to gather all your account information in one place.
It’s regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and uses bank-level security. In fact, according to their website, they’ve been operating for 8 years, and imported over 250 million transactions.
They also make use of the new Open Banking standards.
How It Works
MoneyDashboard connects with all the major banks, and some you’ve never heard of; so whether you bank with one of the big four, or the newer startups like Starling or Monzo, or you bank with another institution, then you should be able to link your account.
So, how does it work?
Once you’ve created an account, the first thing to do is link your accounts.
You do this by entering your login credentials. This sounds a little crazy, but trust me, this is totally secure.
When you’ve added your details, MoneyDashboard will connect with the bank and pull back your balance details. If you have more than one account, then all of them will appear - such as a current account and a savings account.
If you’re with Starling or Monzo, then it will retrieve each Space, or Pot, and show you each of those.
You can colour code each account, so you can see each one at a glance.
This also works for credit cards, and you’ll see the negative balance, if applicable, of the outstanding debt. Scary - but useful.
Once you’ve done this for each bank, you can see a consolidated figure at the top of the screen.
The very top figure is the net balance of positive and negative values.
Below that are the individual figures. It is possible to make exceptions for some accounts - for example, having a mortgage value included will artificially inflate the negative balance.
The main dashboard can be configured, but shows things like outgoings by group, recent transactions, transactions that haven’t been tagged and budgets.
Across the top of the screen are the various sections of the app.
A list of the linked accounts, a view of all transactions, the budgets and the planner.
You can filter by accounts, to make things easier to understand.
This is all good, and it’s useful to know that the account information is automatically updated at frequent times; although you can force a refresh whenever you want. Bear in mind this is limited to around once every couple of hours, to reduce strain on the bank systems.
When you look at your transaction lists, MoneyDashboard will have a very good go at putting tags against each one. This helps with future reporting and budgeting.
Where it can’t do it, then you can add a tag, either from the hundreds that are built in, or you can create your own. And you can set rules that mean the next time a similar payment is made (or received) then it will be tagged the same way.
Once you done the tagging, you can then move onto the budgets. Of course, this is completely up to you.
These are done using the tags, so it might be worth waiting a bit to see where your money is going, before setting budgets.
The next part of the system is my favourite. The Planner.
This is a graphical representation of your chosen accounts, to see the status now, and the future, based on known income and outgoings.
When you click on ‘Add Prediction’ at the top of the screen you can either choose from a number of auto-suggested predictions - those are made up from the transactions that have been imported; and you can select them, add a recurrence and leave it at that; or you can add a new prediction of your own. For example, you may want to see the impact if you spend a certain amount.
You can do this for all accounts, and you can filter which account to look at.
You can also look at either 1, 2, 3, 6, 9 or 12 months into the future. By running your cursor over the dots, you can easily see income and outcome.
If you prefer a calendar view, then this is available from a link at the top of the screen.
For me, this is the most important part of the system. The ability to see my income and expenditure in one place, and understand how things will look towards the end of the month; and indeed, see each days predicted balance, is a game changer.
I know so much more, and by adding future expenses, like car and house insurance; even though I don’t know the exact price, I can build in an approximation to see where I stand.
How Is It Free?
So, the question is, how can all this be free?
MoneyDashboard was voted the UK’s Best Personal Finance App 2017 and 2018 at The British Bank Awards.
They have raised over £1.5m from crowdfunding and they sell the data insights that they harvest from you and me to serve some of the world’s largest fund managers. Don’t worry, the data is anonymous - no-one knows it’s you.
I have only really scratched the surface about the functionality of what MoneyDashboard has to offer.
Whilst there are other offerings out there, like Emma or Yolt; MoneyDashboard is the only one to offer a web interface as well as the mobile apps. This means you can view all the information on a large screen; something that makes it much easier to read and understand.
I should point out that I have not been paid by MoneyDashboard, for this review.
I am just a happy user, who likes to share where I think it’s due.
I hope you’ve found this episode interesting.
If you have any questions or comments about anything I’ve mentioned, then please get in touch via the Contact Me button at the top of the page.
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