Combining and Tracking Couple’s Finances, More Moneydashboard tips, plus free £10!
To run a tight financial ship in any relationship you both have to be transparent in what you are spending, have similar long term financial goals, and hopefully have the same level of frugality running through your veins. There is wiggle room on this of course, but you generally have to be in the same ball park I find, or things aren’t going to go well long term! Finding a frugal partner is something I will have to leave up to your own judgement, and TEA has a great post on discussing your financial goals with your partner.
That leaves being transparent with your spending, and the easiest way of doing that is clearly by just combining your accounts into a joint account. However this can be a bit of a pain, and something that not everyone wants to do!
If the reason your significant other doesn’t want a joint account is because they specifically don’t want to reveal their spending, then some pretty loud alarm bells should be pounding in your ears! But let’s assume that this is not the case, how do we go about pulling in transactions from multiple accounts in the easiest way possible? Once again… enter MoneyDashboard.
A brief digression – Get £9.97 when you sign up through Top Cashback
This offer only lasts 2 days from Friday 13th January until Sunday 15th so you need to be quick!!! But if you open a Top Cashback account here* then, find the moneyDashboard offer (it’s currently on the homepage, or just use the search box) you will get an even bigger than normal £9.97 cashback, simply for opening and syncing at least one of your bank accounts. Which really is money for nothing (well, 15 minutes of sitting at your computer!).
How we track our multiple accounts in Money Dashboard
Back to the main topic then, which is how MD makes it so much easier to combine your multiple bank accounts into one easy to view application.
Check out the main dashboard page:
On the left there you can instantly see that we have 3 current accounts (why 3? More on this later) linked in, plus a couple of credit cards, with balances etc… for each one. Sweet right?! The pie chart type thing on the right includes the spending from all of your linked accounts for the current month. All done automatically. You can also view the last months pie chart, or select a custom date range, so it’s fully configurable!
Adding a new account is easy:
Then just choose the type of bank/card and fill in your online banking details here:
A few quick notes on security
Last time I posted about MD there seemed to be a lot of wussypants worrying over the security aspect of giving a third party your log in details. I’d advise you to read the comments on that post from Nyul and further research from myself shows that it uses underlying technology from a company called Yodlee, which have been in this game for over 10 years now. If their technology was insecure, you would have heard something about it by now! (And they’d be out of business!).
It’s also very much worth checking out their FAQ section here:
Questions in particular to read are I want to start using Money Dashboard, but I’m concerned about giving you my bank details and My bank advises not to provide internet banking credentials to any third party.
There are other arguments against doing things “in the cloud” such as the company going bust but I think that MD’s business model is really sound and they’ll be around for a long time (again, see FAQ section for more info on that).
*UPDATE* – After more comments below about the security risks of such software (not just MD, but any type really) and to keep this article as balanced and readers informed as possible I thought it was worth updating this section with a summary of the counter arguments, which ermine sums up nicely with his comment:
“The risk assessment is absolutely your call, however the fact that the threat vector is not just MD being hacked is worth adding for the sake of completeness. Logically MD’s application or code snippet/plugin on your computer (not MD itself, I acknowledge) must know your password and userid, these will presumably be stored on your computer and not MD so your computer will be doing the fetching job. But any bank worth its salt will know this is not you doing it manually. But as you say, life is risk.”
Other combined banking account features
Transactions: You can also view all your transactions in a list, and there are many ways to filter and search for individual transactions, and it updates really fast as well! You can also select specific accounts to show transactions from:
As you can see each account has a colour attributed to it so it’s really easy to what transaction has originated from which account. You can even customize your own account colours!
In/Out Graph: Finally there is an income vs expenses graph for the last year and again you can select individual accounts to show or any combination of the multiple accounts you have linked:
Other Money Dashboard tips
They’ve finally bought back the split transaction feature, which is a god send!
For example if you have paid for something for your mate, and they’ve give you back the money then obviously you don’t count the full lot as spending. Here’s how you’d deal with this situation:
- On the transactions page hover over the desired transaction you wish to split.
- You should see the split button appear on the right hand side. Click it!
- You should now see this box appear:
- If we have been to the Llama park 1 and split the lunch bill evenly for example, I would leave the two splits as half and half and register one under the “Current account transfer” tag. This tag means that it is not counted as income or spend on all of the other charts by default, which is what we want in this case
- If my friend then transfers the money they own me back to my account, I also make sure that is tagged as a current account transaction, again so it doesn’t count as income. The same if they give me the money and I pay it into my bank.
- The final scenario is if they give me cash and I blow it in the gift shop, perhaps being sucked in by the soothing sound of the Peruvian pipes or finest llama wool clothing on offer. In this case I would have to go back to step one and tag the split part of that transaction as whatever I’d spent it on (I’m not sure if MD has a “gift shop tat” category but I am sure you can find something suitable 🙂 )
Advice on the mental side of tracking things as a couple
The number one reason for arguments in couples is often said to be money, and this is no different in the TFS household. We have tried many different ways of budgeting and tracking our finances, and all have failed and tended to produce minor spats over silly amounts of money that were just not worth the energy in the first place. Plus I felt they never really gave us much incentive to actually save (although we still did, but could have done better). For example I feel budgeting is like that. I don’t really like budgeting despite writing about it long ago and much prefer tracking!
But around September last year I came up with a new idea and it’s been working well so far. Here is what we do:
Three bank accounts
- Santander – This is our joint account. All income comes into here and all monthly and joint/household expenses go out of it. (There are also 2 cashback credit cards which are for household stuff only, paid off in full every month via this joint account)
- TSB1 and TSB2 – These are two separate accounts for each of us, and we transfer £500 into each every month. We then have that as our “fun spending” where the other person is not really supposed to judge as we have different values on what our money goes on (i.e. hair, clothes, make up vs golf).
- We both then have a challenge to see how much of the £500 2 we can end up with at the end of the month with!
- This system reduces any petty arguments over small amounts because we can just focus on the bigger picture.
- However we can still sit down and chat like adults about how we’ve done each month at the end of it, because it’s all tracked in MoneyDashboard. If one of us is spending consistently far more than the other, questions are sure to be asked.
- The extra bonus of having the TSB accounts is they have 5% interest which is almost unheard of nowadays. It’s paid on balances up to £2000 so we just keep a floating balance of £2K in each to reap the full benefits. Also you have to fund the accounts with £500 every month, which is why we transfer that amount (plus it conveniently seems like a reasonable amount to end up with decent “savings” at month end)
Finally I will then go through the MD categories and add the final numbers for each month in the month columns in the spreadsheet, to give us an idea of how we are doing in each category overall and over time. Have a look at the spreadsheet (and copy it to your own google drive to edit it), it should be fairly straightforward but if you have any questions let me know in the comments!
I linked to it in my January expenses post but here it is again in case you missed it:
What about you?
So what do you think of our system? Have you thought up or are running anything similar?
The idea is to turn saving money from a chore and a bore into a bit of a challenge and something a bit more fun.
Let us know what you think in the comments as usual!
Cheers and have a good weekend all!
Final note: I’d just like to say this post was inspired by new on the scene blogger Frugal Freelancer’s post here where she mentions that tracking their expenses will be hard due to her husband having seperate accounts. Go check out her blog, it looks like it could be a good one!
*Affiliate link. If you sign up through this link you will be giving me a small amount of £££ but more importantly a massive high five and saying “Hey TFS, I really like what you are doing here, keep it up son” and I will feel all fuzzy inside and write lots of more exciting blog posts for you to read. So everyone’s a winner!
- Yes, this actually exists and we went there the other day! ↩
- Clearly anyone who has read our 6 month expenses report from last year will realise there wasn’t much left of the £500 in any given month at the start. However!!! We are both coming down each month so I am really thinking this system is working well for us. We’ll see how far we can push it over the coming year. ↩