Budget/Expense tracking app

I checked and there are some similar posts like Budgeting software but they are quite old by now and especially for this topic a few years probably will make a difference.

Having joined this forum recently I now want to do some better analysis on my expenses. I was starting to use the Expense tool of UBS which is the bank that I use but it seems that they will get rid of it soon.

For overall wealth tracking I have my own spreadsheet that I have started to build up and improve bit by bit. My main request is to have a tool that will let me know where each CHF that entered my bank account in a given month/year went to. Ideally something that I can import all this data from something that I can export from UBS for both my debit but also credit card transactions, with some way of remembering the labels based on the recipient. (This last one is especially important because at work we do order food quite regularly so I end up spending hundreds per month on UberEats and the like which then are offset by a bunch of TWINT transactions :sweat_smile: )

What does everyone use? Any recommendations?

Also bonus points if it’s free or not a subscription. The idea is to save money, not to find some other recurring expense if possible (even though sometimes it is worth it).


To track my expense, I use a google Spreadsheet with a maximum of constant monthly expenses. I also use a credit card for the groceries and other spending.

There are definitely other threads on the matter like Beancount


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(I use Excel.)
However … the elephant in the room seems to be ordering food - as well from a budgeting/tracking as from a health POV :smirk::wink:

When I tracked my expenses, I simply used a spreadsheet. I tried to use credit cards as much as possible as everything was then on a statement which I would transfer into the spreadsheet.

Cash items I kept records/receipts and also tracked these expenses.

This was actually a very good exercise to have awareness of all expenditure.


Other relevant threads

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Thanks for the replies. I’ll need to have a look, and while I very much enjoy creating my own spreadsheets, I feel like for the simple tool of expense tracking with categories, there has to be another and a spreadsheet isn’t exactly the best tool for the job. I already have mine for wealth tracking but there I don’t go into details like individual transactions

YNAB seems very powerful and very much capable for the task but as mentioned before I want to avoid any unnecessary subscriptions.

These posts seems more recent, thanks! I will have a look at them.

If not I might go the beancount route. Seems more overkill but definitely more flexible. Also GitHub doesn’t scare me :sweat_smile:

If you really want to stick to free solutions you may also want to have a look to GnuCash. There should also be quite a good community if you need help to get started. User interface is Windows 3.1 style iirc :slight_smile: .
I gave it a try a few years ago but then decided to ay something to have a more user friendly tool which is also capable to connect to my accounts.

edit: screenshot from the website

Yea I saw that in the posts as well but that UI is really date :sweat_smile:. Not that, that is the most important aspect which to me would be ease of import, but it’s definitely not a plus.

What are you using now?

I’m using MoneyWiz. I think they have 2-3 different options, one free, one “light” (ca. 20 CHF/year) and one “full” (ca. 50 CHF/year). I’m using the latter because my bank(s) are supported, this should be checked in advance before paying the subscription fee

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Toshl app + Google/Excel sheets to aggregate & analyze over time.

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Trying toshl now as there’s a free tier and an affordable paid one (unfortunately it seems that UBS CH wouldn’t work for the automatic import). They also have iOS/Android and PC versions.

I exported my transactions for 2023 as CSV from UBS and imported them to Toshl. How do you set the categories? I have only found a way to do it one by one. Ideally there would be some rules that I can set, to automate this bit. As I mentioned above I have a lot of repeatable transactions which clouds my data quite a bit. Doing this manually would be super annoying :sweat_smile:

Ah I haven’t seen you are looking for auto-categorization of a list as a requirement. :slight_smile:

I simply add each expense manually as it happens (and paid version allows setting up recurring ones).

I use Firefly III, highly recommend it: https://demo.firefly-iii.org/login

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Just using Excel. Defined categories and sub-categories as named ranges that I can super easy expand. All expense data is exported monthly from various credit cards, accounts and added into a sheet with raw-expense data. I add on each line the cat/sub-cat, if any exchange rate percentage/wise absolute FX rates. Categories/sub-cat are drop-down selections so typically just first character is enough for each line to autocomplete. Very easy.
Everything else is automatic on overview page - monthly/quarterly/yearly summaries. No other work. And if I want to drill into a category, say kids, I can open that section and see I spend avg of x CHF on games in that period. As just done for Oct, takes under 30mins for 5 different cards/accounts and currencies.


It seems such an easy thing in 2023 that I will take it as a base requirement. As I mentioned in my original Post, at work we order food and then everyone pays that someone. I do that quite a lot so it’s not uncommon to have a few dozen (positive TWINT transfers per month). These all come from the same set of people so it’s very easy to filter out. This use case is actually one of the reasons why I am looking for an expense app. If I check my credit card statement it says that I spend upwards of 500 CHF on uber eats when actual number is much much less than that. From what I can see, toshl doesn’t even allow manual batch editing, so it would be far too cumbersome. Shame because it did seem good looking.

That is what I am leaning towards now. As I mentioned before, Github doesn’t scare me as I work with it git all the time already, and same with Docker so the main drawback of firefly iii doesn’t apply so much to me, so I will just need to find the time to deploy it somewhere.

I’m not sure if I will love double entry bookkeeping as it seems unnecessarily complex for what I need but maybe, in practical terms, it won’t be that complicated

I assume it does import credit card statements easily. I wonder if I can get the auto import to work with UBS.

P.S. I see that Monday Morning is primetime for this forum. 2 replies in a couple of minutes, an dnow a third with mine :sweat_smile:

I’m currently on YNAB but want to switch for 2 reasons.

  1. Its expensive
  2. It does not even properly support holding and spending in multiple currencies

I’m looking into following alternatives apps on iOS:

  • Bluecoins (they used to be available only on Android but since a year or so also on iOS)
  • Money Manager
  • SayMoney
  • MoneyCoach
    if anyone has experience if any of those please comment.
    Thank you

I personally love my YNAB and after getting over the initial habit change of logging everything, I use it for myself and my kids (salaire de jeunesse) for everything. It’s a 100 bucks but provides super easy long term visibility and for me it’s very intuitive and user friendly (personally I use it on my phone 80%) of the time where I wouldn’t use excel. Overall, on a scale out of 10, my stress on budget/saving was a constant 5-6 before and it’s a 2-3 now max

This is true, especially point 2. I have 4 currencies mostly with a large majority in one, smaller annual spend in the others and I find it easiest to keep everything in CHF for simplicity

There is the Firefly Data Importer that you can use. For my use cases, I wrote some python scripts that prepare the CSV with some filtering and with the right text before I submit it to FF3 via the data importer.

Sounds amazing! Would you be willing to share a copy? I have a similar setup but I’m not able to upload the data, I still do it by “keyboard” which takes some more time (and it’s the reason I haven’t been doing it since June).

I tried many software over the years, mostly free and open source ones as I don’t want to trust anyone with my financial data. Recently I tried the self-hosted Firefly III (some use it here as you can see) but after some trial I went back to a custom made spreadsheet (using LibreOffice Calc on Linux, of course) and it fits best my needs without too much efforts to inputs new CSV each months as it finds categories by keywords like “coop”, “Migros”, “parking” and I complete only the missing ones manually.