Track Your Spend

Nafisa Akabor Cache This, Latest


Given our recent 30-month high inflation rate and the current volatility in South Africa, we’re expecting further price hikes from fuel to groceries and cars. Now more than ever, we should look at ways to keep track of our spending, cut out unnecessary purchases, and start saving.

There’s an app for that

If you have a few bank accounts or multiple credit cards, do you know how much you’re spending on them each month? Chances are you probably have a general idea, but do you have a breakdown?

The 22Seven app is ideal to keep track of how much you spend in one place. It’s linked to over 100 financial institutions like banks, investment services, motoring finance, and other asset management services.

 You can easily see all your income and expenses in one interface, and separate them by day-to-day, recurring, exceptions, and more. You can also view them in monthly graphs for a quick overview of income vs. expenses, and where most of your money goes. It’s a service I’m familiar with and recommend using.

Digital footprint

If you’re not comfortable with giving a third-party access to your bank accounts, you could switch to digital transactions – if the pandemic hasn’t done this already. As a cashless digital native, FNB’s InContact emails have been taking care of this for years.

Everything I do across my accounts on a banking app, Apple Watch, or bank card is automatically recorded. This digital trail includes FNB’s Global Accounts that I transfer money to for (pandemic-free) travels, and even my spending at street vendors overseas is recorded. Knowing this helps me allocate spending for future trips.

All my transactions are set up to go into a separate Gmail folder, which is also handy when I file my tax returns. My emails are my receipts. It makes sifting through and searching that much easier.

Granular records

If you’re looking for other ways to track how much you spend in your household monthly, especially if it’s dual income, try using the Home Budget app. There is a lite version that is free for the first three months, but having tested it, it’s worth the once-off purchase. It costs R64.99 on the Google Play Store and R99.99 on the Apple App Store. There are also Mac, Windows, and Kindle versions.

You start with a total income, and then add entries for expenses, bills, budget, and accounts. It could be used for groceries only, or everything including rent/bond, insurance, car payments, etc. Everything appears in visually appealing colour coded graphs for a quick financial overview.

The Home Budget app can also be used for reports or forecasts and supports PDF/CSV exports for tax purposes. You can set a month start date that suits your debits orders, plus it offers cloud backups. I find it best to use on a smartphone.

Ducks in a row

Of course, you don’t have to buy an app to do this, as there are plenty of free apps out there – just make sure it’s not stealing your data. The bottom line is knowing how you spend, what’s no longer necessary or what’s excessive, and to start saving.

We’ve been living in uncertainty for over a year now and if you don’t have a backup plan, you might be inclined to start now as South Africa will look to rebuild what was lost during the KZN and Gauteng riots. Be prepared for price hikes across the board.

Cache This

Technology is an ever increasing part of our lives and let’s be honest, many of us like gadgets. There is also an abundance of new online services and apps taking over the traditional services we use. Nafisa Akabor has been covering everything tech for well over a decade and she’ll be writing on how we can do tech within a budget and reviewing some of the new online services. Cache This is published on the last Tuesday of every month.