Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Managing Your Money With An Aggregator

Reading a few other personal finance blogs, I recently became aware of a type of service called a "money aggregator" which a few bloggers have raved about, so I decided to have a look into them.

I found a couple, such as and watched the explanation video and was very impressed with what it appeared to offer, but not living in the US I couldn't try it myself unfortunately. However, I did find one that's based in the UK called Money Dashboard and decided to try it out...

First off, the link above is not an affiliate link. This is not really a review, and I am not being paid for this, so the following is an honest unbiased and generalised opinion.

OK, so I was a bit reluctant to hand over the login details for my various accounts and did a bit of research first regarding the security they talk about on their site. Many of my fellow bloggers use (which uses the same security) and have had no problems. I haven't seen any reported problems on the internet either, but then, perhaps that's just my searching ability.

After scratching my head for a bit though, I decided to take the plunge. Besides, many banks are now issuing wotsits like this thingy here =>

So, even if my security details ARE compromised, a hacker still can't set up payments to their own account without one of these physically present, and my other online accounts, like my credit cards, don't allow any transactions anway, they are literally just points of information.

But I already have all the information I need from internet banking, why would I need a service like this?

Here's why - You can see ALL of your transactions across ALL of your accounts, regardless of what institution they are with, and also HOW they are broken down.

General Accounts Overview

Of course, if you wanted to, and you had a few hours to spare, you could do it all yourself with a spreadsheet, but that would be quite laborious. I know, because that's exactly what I've been up to lately in a bid to see where exactly our money has been going. This thing just wiped out hours of messing about in about 5 minutes flat and gave me a large portion of my life back....and you can break it all down too like this:

You can "drill down" as much as you like

As you can see, my "household" spending consists of over £250 at the supermarket so far this month, so it's a prime candidate for making a decent saving, especially when we're only spending £80 on going out. I've already discussed this with the Missus and we've got a few plans in mind now, so each time we go, we'll keep the receipts and see what products make up the bulk of this sum. I have a feeling a significant amount will be snacking and the like - if so, I might start baking my own biscuits, buying them in bulk, or just rationing myself.

Realistically, we should easily be able to feed 2 adults and a toddler on maybe half of that a month, so 5 minutes work has potentially yielded a "spare" £120 out of next month's wage, which is great considering it's Christmas and we'll need the extra cash!.

It's not perfect of course, these things rarely are. I'm still trying to work out how to enter my payday date properly, so the money in/out figures line up properly from "my" month's point of view, i.e. from the 29th to the 29th, not the 1st to the 1st. And although the breakdown above was done very easily and quickly, there were quite a few items in my accounts that I had to go in to label and tag manually so the figures were accurate. Having said that though, their tagging system is fast and fuss free, so it didn't take long.

Considering the service is free, I'm extremely impressed. OK, you may argue it's not entirely free - I'm sure they'll mine as much marketing information as they can out of my data in order to cross sell me other financial products, but they have to fund it somehow, and I'm not handing over actual cash for it. Besides, if it's done right, some of those products may well be relevant to me. Anyway, it's not often you come across something that makes an immediate and significant difference to your life, so I can't recommend them enough.

Do you use Money Dashboard? Or a similar service?? Has it made a difference to you??? Go on leave me a comment... 

1 comment:

  1. I use a similar idea set up by my bank. It only shows accounts held with them but is so useful. I can view every transaction made and see at a glance where I am spending my cash each week. Since using it for the last three months I have been able to make gradual changes in my spending patterns.I love being in control.


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