Expense tracking for a family

New members here. I apologise if this question has been asked elsewhere and apologise if it should belong to another category. I have done a brief search but haven’t found such discussions, let along answers.

What I aim for in the end is a overview of all the expenses for the entire family (my wife and I). We two now have two credit suisse CSX accounts and two revolute account and some cash from time to time. We use cards interchangeably and pay bills with accounts here and there. So it’s a total mess. I hope I can start the change first and later one bring her along. I have tried to set up a google sheet and modify it on my phone whenever I spend something. I even setup a ifttt process to automate the process. But I found it all failed in the end.

Therefore I hope there can be some tools that can help me categorising the expense. For example, it links to my credit suisse account and my revolute account and log done the transaction when it happens. For example, it takes a transaction sheet every month and can extract the information. Or maybe some other approaches. Ideally, I can do the work for my wife as well.

Love to hear from you guys how do you deal with it. thanks

1 common bank account for daily expenses & periodic bills (serafe, insurances etc)
Eventually another common bank account for mortgage (if you want to keep “clean” accounts in case of separation)

Either with a 50/50 contribution to these accounts, or whatever share you agreed (if the difference in salaries is too high)

We pay as much as we can with the credit card which categorizes the expenses automatically

The question seems too easy to answer, I am not sure I got it right ?

If you’re into Python programming then beancount let’s you do exactly that.

I’ve been use Beancount for a long time but there is some work to be done and discipline.

Please read this example very well written. It will convince you :wink:

Thanks for the answer. I am not concerned about sharing the expense, 50/50 or 30/70 or whatever. I am happy to mix up all the expenses. The need is only to track the expenses of both of us, hopefully without manually entering the data.

Thanks for the answer. I am not concerned about sharing the expense, 50/50 or 30/70 or whatever. I am happy to mix up all the expenses. The need is only to track the expenses of both of us (or maybe just mine expenses, as the first step), hopefully without manually entering the data.

Hello, personally I use Banana accounting - I download bank transactions every month, and assign them to accounts. I find it quite user-friendly and easy to work with


To track and, more importantly, control my expenses I started using YNAB last month. Mr. MP can do I much better job than me explaining what this tool is and why it’s valuable.

Yesterday I finished my first budget for January and I already feel more in control of my spending and can more easily plan for future bigger expenses like a new (used) car, a holiday or a home improvement project.

My budget isn’t perfect yet and I’ve probably missed some expense or saving categories. However I believe it’s ~90% correct since I went over all the big expenses in the last year and budgeted for them this year.

At the moment I’m inputting transactions manually which is a bit cumbersome but it does make me more conscious about my spending and how to budget for it. Do note there’s also an automatic import option which can merge imported transactions with your manually imported transactions.

One reason for choosing this tool over a more advanced solution like beancount is that YNAB comes with an easy to use web-app, android-app, iOS-app (used by my girlfriend) and Apple watch app (also used by my girlfriend). This allows me to immediately enter a transaction after I made it and see how it effected my budget.

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Thank you. I will go research more about YNAB. Have you tried the import feature? Does it work with credit suisse and or revolut?

I know for a fact that I am not the person who opens the app and type in a transaction as it happens. And I won’t be present when my wife buys an ice cream on the road. so that feature is essential to me.

Thank you. I will go research more about banana account. Does the import feature work with credit suisse and or revolut? What you described sounds exactly as what I need. haah

I haven’t tried the import feature yet. But will try it out at the end of this month to see how it works. I also use Credit Suisse (although I’m switching to neon) so I’ll report back if it worked.

I have used the import feature with three different banks, but not CS. There are different import formats.

I’ve been manually inputting transactions in YNAB (4 - the desktop version) for the last 6 years or so for our family. I don’t do it at the timepoint of transaction as it would be cumbersome in my opinion, I rather take 30-40 min at the end of the month to look through the account statements at our online bank and then fill them into the categories/buckets I’ve created.

I don’t use YNAB exactly how it is designed (I don’t care if I am over a budget in a specific month), I simply use it for expense tracking and charting.

I feel the monthly manual transaction entering is nice and makes you re-think all the expenses you had. It also helps me to notice if any ‘joint’ activities were paid from our personal accounts (we have personal accounts for our own spending) and then I transfer the money from the joint account to the private one.

To make it faster, for example the >20 transactions that would belong to our “Groceries” bucket, I simply sum them up and add it as a single transaction within the software.


that is really good practice and I should learn it. Thanks

I step in to raise a general question to people using this kind of tools (as I’m currently in the test phase): how do you handle credit card / debit card payments ?

Say I open an “account” for my bank and 2 “accounts” for credit & debit card.
I import the transactions from my bank (PF) and I find the credit card bill monthly payments & the debit card advance payments ("-" sign). I categorize those under credit / debit card payment.

Then I import my debit card (Revolut) transactions under the debit card account and the credit card (Swisscard) transactions under the credit card account. There, I have all my store payments ("-" sign) and the recurring bill payments / advance payments ("+" sign) which correspond to the “-” payments in the bank account.

What is your strategy to “neutralise” (link together ?) those two, in order to have proper summaries by category when you analyse your spending ?

Similar question for the currency conversions in Revolut (CHF -> EUR)

You didn’t specify the tool you’re using. But I account all credit card transactions (just the viseca one tho, as I treat Revolut as regular bank account) under Liabilities and then the monthly direct debit payment is used to settle those liabilities.

As I didn’t want a subscription based tool but I don’t have the time to invest to tackle too complex solutions I quickly tried GnuCash and MoneyDance and now I landed to MoneyWiz (v. 3, which is free if you don’t use the online part).
I’ve seen that I can categorize a transaction as “transfer” (between two accounts) in which case it is not considered in the expenses summaries. Good, the only boring thing is that after importing the transaction list I have to manually get rid of one of the 2 transactions in order to avoid double counting in the account balance. Example: I go to PF and mark the payment towards Revolut ("-") as a transfer (PF->Revolut). The software then displays the transaction in the Revolut account ("+") where I already had it (as it was present in the imported list). Then I have to manually delete the Revolut incoming transfer in order to have only one “+”.
Same principle for the currency exchange between Revolut CHF (sell to buy EUR -> “-”) and Revolut EUR (incoming EUR “+”). I can mark those as transactions and specify the currency exchange rate / date but after that I have to manually remove the buy from the EUR account.
It wouldn’t be dramatic but I imported the whole 2020 -> some additional work beside categorising… :wink:

That’s the same for beancount. For exchanges I have an Equity account which holds the exchanged amounts just for book keeping.

The incoming top-up however do get “automatically” deduped (the importer suggests to merge them) if they are the same amount on the same day.

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Cool, thank you for the feedback. Probably it would have happened in MoneyWiz as well if I had “transferred” the transaction (CHF->EUR) before importing the EUR list (I’ve seen the tool looks for duplicates). Will try next time.

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@MrCheese how do you treat IB and 3a payments ? As expenses or transfers to some “savings account” ?

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