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Save Money & Track Spending with Expense Categories

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where your money is going when looking at a cluttered bank statement. If your first reaction is shock, and you can’t eyeball the list of transactions fast enough to see what could possibly be draining your wallet, some organization of expenses could be in order.

Placing expenses in different categories can make a world of difference in regards to overall spending. For instance, seeing that you spent $2,000 on entertainment and another $1,000 on clothing/shoes last month — all on one screen — would help keep spending priorities in order, and maybe even help you change your spending habits if they’re higher than expected.

Using Personal Capital’s expense categories, it’s easy to classify each transaction appropriately and obtain an overall picture of where your money is going. Whether you’re looking to cut your spending on entertainment or increase money spent on something more important, like automotive expenses, this tool can give you a broad view of what you’re spending, and where exactly it’s going.

On Personal Capital’s website, simply click the “Banking” tab at the top of the screen and select “My Cash.” The top portion of the “Banking” screen shows spending by each category over time, but if you’re interested in seeing each individual transaction you’ve made, just scroll below the graphs for a complete list that includes the date, account, description, category and amount.

Categories can be updated by clicking on the individual transaction’s “category” and selecting the appropriate option from the drop-down menu. Categories range from entertainment, restaurants/dining and travel to checks, home maintenance and healthcare/medical expenses, and everything in between. Personal Capital doesn’t yet offer the option to create your own categories, but there’s a vast spectrum of pre-determined options to choose from.

Categories can also be updated under the “Accounts” tab, where you choose “Transactions” and have a complete list of individual cash, credit card, loan and investment transactions. However, the total spending for each category is only under the “Banking” tab, so the shortcut to seeing the total amount spent in a category and update categories would be to stick with Banking>My Cash.

If you’re an iPhone/iPad user, the process is just as simple. For the iPhone, either tap “Cash Flow” or the blue button with three white bars on the top of the screen and hit “All Transactions.” A list of individual transactions will appear, and by tapping the category you’d like to change, a drop-down menu will give you new options to choose from. Just hit “Done,” and the changes will be saved.

For the iPad users, just select “Menu,” and then click “Transactions.” Another route would be to start from the “Cash Flow” tab and tap the transaction you’d like to change. Update the category by selecting “Make Changes,” hit “Done” and your expenses are categorized.

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