Manage your budget digitally with these 11 tips

It is advisable to keep track of your income and expenses every month or every quarter, because this way you always keep an overview of your financial situation. This also prevents unnecessary or hidden costs. It sounds like a big job to manage your budget, but with the help of various apps it doesn't have to be.

Tip 01: Internet banking

Internet banking is very useful, although in 2020 we probably use the bank's mobile app more often than the web environment. More and more often, this digital banking offers possibilities to give you more insight into your finances, instead of just showing a simple list of income and expenses. At ING, for example, you have the Financially fit Wijzer, with which you can list all fixed income and expenses and then set a savings goal. It is then possible to automatically set aside some money every month to save.

However, the possibilities of that pointer are quite limited. At Rabobank, a little more is already possible, namely by means of widgets. Widgets are small pieces of information about your financial situation. For example, there is a pie chart where you can see at a glance which types of expenses you make per month. It is useful that Rabo automatically categorizes your expenses. Even better is ABN, which has released an app called Grip. You can link this to your savings and checking account and give you clear insight into your expenses and income by means of a timeline. You can also set budgets yourself and receive push notifications, for example in the event of a major expense or when your budget is exhausted. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the app is still in closed beta and it is unclear when ABN will open it to everyone.

Tip 02: Household books

If you prefer to take it a little more comprehensively, you can choose from one of the many online and offline packages available. Online, the better-known digital household books include AFAS Personal and Kasboek.nl. The handy thing about the online services is that they often integrate a little better with your bank's internet banking environment. Transactions can be easily imported and automatically classified into categories.

You can also sometimes create your own rules about how transactions should be imported. It is useful to make a budget based on those classified transactions and to scan receipts, so that you don't just lose them if something suddenly breaks after two years. To get started, visit the website www.afaspersonal.nl. Then click on Sign up for free and enter an email address and password. click on Sign up for free to complete the registration. For Kasboek.nl go to www.kasboek.nl and click at the bottom Sign up for free. Enter your email address, agree to the terms and conditions and click create an account. You will receive an email with a link with further instructions.

If you don't think the household books from Afas or Kasboek work quite well, there are still a lot of alternatives. Money Wise has listed the various household books. This way you will find the household book that suits you best.

Tip 03: Paid or Free?

With online services you often have free variants, but also a paid subscription. At AFAS, for example, you pay 2.45 euros per month for the Plus subscription. In addition to monthly budgets, you will then be given the option of drawing up an annual budget, exporting data and creating import rules yourself. In that respect, the free version is more than sufficient for almost everyone.

Other packages are sometimes paid. Cashflow offers a free version, but for the functions that you really need for a household book, you quickly end up with the paid version, which costs 17.95 euros per year. One package that takes a slightly different approach is that of BankTrans, which works completely offline and is free. The program is available for Windows, macOS and Linux. You can find it at www.banktrans.nl. BankTrans can do a lot of what the online packages can, but then does it all offline. If you prefer to keep your data under your own management, this package is an option. It can take a while before you understand exactly how the package works as a whole.

BankTrans works offline and is free, but it takes a while to get the hang of it

Tip 04: Import

Some housekeeping books can automatically import your transactions from internet banking. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Kasboek.nl and BankTrans. For Kasboek.nl you do that by going to Transactions and then to Import transactions. There you can choose from which bank you want to import the transactions. However, you must first export this yourself from your bank. To do this, go to your internet banking environment for ING, where you can click below: Overviews the option off- and download credits finds.

Choose a period and choose as file format for Comma separated CSV. click on Download. For Rabobank you can go here to download your transactions. Then click Download overview and log in with your Random Reader. For the ABN Amro log in and click on Start downloading. Select the relevant accounts and choose the period. Then choose format for MT940, click on OK and then on Save. You can also find these manuals on Kasboek.nl. Back on the Kasboek site, click Start uploading and choose the files; then click OK. For BankTrans you always download the format comma separated CSV. You can then start the import by pressing File / Import clicking and browsing to the *.csv file.

Tip 05: AFAS assistant

AFAS takes a slightly different approach. There you have the option to use the so-called Update Assistant that automatically retrieves and adds the transactions. To do this, you must log in to your internet banking environment yourself. After registering with AFAS and entering your name, it is necessary to choose your bank. Click on the relevant bank or search for it. With the four banks in the picture it is possible to automatically import transactions, with the rest you have to do that manually. SNS Bank is the most modern in that regard. This bank does not need the Update Assistant but can give the housekeeping book direct and secure access to your transactions. ADAS calls this bank link.

However, we are at ING, so we choose that bank and then choose the AFAS Personal Update Assistant. Press the button Install the Update Assistant’ and install the add-on for your browser. Then click on the AFAS logo in your browser and choose your bank to log in. Log in and click on the AFAS logo again. click on To download to import your data into AFAS. Then choose which accounts you want to import, after which the transactions are imported. Make sure you don't open any other windows or tabs or you'll have to start over.

Tip 06: Classify transactions

Now that you've imported your transactions, it's necessary to check whether the transactions are properly formatted and whether anything needs to be adjusted. To do this, go to Kasboek.nl Transactions and then to the Transaction list. If you sort by column (by clicking on it), all transactions without a category are at the top. You can then select one by clicking on it. Then click on the blue block on the right Choose a category and classify the transaction by selecting one of the categories. Then click Save. For AFAS you go to Transactions and click on the top right Filters. click on All categories and choose Not categorized / Still to share. Click on a transaction and choose Category the right category. Save it by clicking Save to click.

Tip 07: Cash Expenses

So far you have only imported pinned transactions. However, occasionally (or maybe even regularly) you will also make a purchase with cash. Unfortunately, you will have to enter those transactions manually in the household books discussed so far. To keep track of cash transactions in AFAS, it is necessary to create a cash book. To do this, click on the gears at the bottom of bills and then on Add a cash book. Type a name for your cash book and click Add this cash book. Now if you go back to Transactions see the option at the top right View cash transaction, where you can add your cash transaction. For Kasboek.nl go to Transactions / Transaction list and click on the plus at the top right of the table to add a new transaction. For your cash transactions that do not immediately appear in your cash book, it is useful if a smartphone app or tablet app is available for your household book. For example, AFAS has an app that makes this possible.

Tip 08: Make a budget

If you would like to save money or don't want to spend too much on groceries or leisure, for example, it is useful (or even necessary) to make a budget. This limits your spending. If this is important to you, make sure that the household book you choose has support for this. Many household books give you the option to create a budget per category. If you want to spend a maximum of 170 euros per month on groceries, you set that and check every week, based on the classified transactions, how much of that 170 euros is left. That way it's easier to stick to it.

The advantage of a digital solution is the integration with your bank, so that transactions are automatically classified and you therefore have less effort to keep track of your budget every week. In AFAS you create a budget by selecting Budgets to choose. Click now Start budgeting. By default, AFAS then calculates the averages and automatically creates a budget. You can view these averages at Overview. To make a change, go to Set up. You can expand and adjust categories here. For Kasboek.nl it is necessary to determine a budget yourself and to Overviews / Monthly to keep.

By making a budget, you ensure that you get better with your money

Tip 09: Receipts on paper

A good housekeeping book also includes receipts for purchases. You receive receipts in two ways: for purchases in online stores you receive them in your e-mail, and for purchases in the store you receive an invoice or receipt on paper the old-fashioned way. To make sure you don't lose paper receipts, you can automate their processing. IFTTT (If This Then That) is a handy service that allows you to perform an action based on certain conditions. IFTTT links many services 'to each other', based on a condition of one service, an action is then performed at the other service. For example: if a receipt is photographed, place it automatically in the correct folder. For example, you can use IFTTT to automatically save receipts to your cloud storage. This recipe is useful for that. You can also use services like Evernote to scan and manage receipts. Handy for this is the Evernote Scannable that can scan documents and integrates with Evernote. Otherwise, Office Lens is also handy. AFAS also has its own app with the option of scanning receipts and linking them directly to a transaction; that happens with the same app that you also use for cash transactions.

Tip 10: Digital invoices

Every time you make a purchase in the webshop, your invoices end up in a big pile in your email and it is difficult to find them. It is useful to categorize and classify them automatically. You can easily create a filter in Gmail by searching for your invoices. For example, search for 'invoice', 'proof of payment' or the name of webshops where you order a lot. Then right click on the arrow of the search box and click on the option at the bottom of the now appeared drop-down menu Create filter with this search.

Tick ​​the option Apply the label and click Select label / New label. Give the label a name and click To make. Now your invoices are automatically classified in a clear folder. With IFTTT it is then still possible to automatically export your invoices and save them to, for example, Dropbox. This recipe is useful for that. For Outlook, first create a new category by clicking New category left. Type a name for your category. Then go to the gear in the top right and click on Manage Rules / New. Now create a new rule by setting the condition on the left and applying the newly created label to it on the right.

For example, you can use IFTTT to automatically save receipts to your cloud storage

Tip 11: Excel

If you prefer not to use an external service to store your finances, you can choose between BankTrans and Excel. When you open Excel, you can search for templates on the right. For example, if you are a student, there is a special template available called Monthly budget for students. You only have to fill this in and you have an overview of your expenses and income. Another useful template is for example Travel cost calculation. Here you can easily list your expenses for your holiday, so that you immediately have an overview. You still have Personal budget (very extensive) or Personal household book. This template is a bit outdated. There is still talk of checks...

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