Analytics for personal finances: testing Qapital Beta
Internet banking sucks. I happen to use Swedbank and its Internet bank is no better than any of its competitors. There is little support for browsing history. All entries are limited in size and usually extremely cryptic (probably shouldn’t blame the bank for this but it does not appear to be doing anything about the problem either). Categorising and grouping expenses is close to impossible although I’m paying by card 98% of the time. To see evolution over time I need to export last year’s transactions to excel and plot them myself.
This is about as much detail I can get out of Swedbank, except for the obvious “how much money is in my account.” In short, Internet banking sucks.
Qapital is hoping to change that. They are the Swedish equivalent of Mint, a personal finance tool for tracking and analysing your income and expenses. It’s in early beta still, but it’s looking damn promising!
Key features so far include:
- Getting an overview of all your accounts from multiple banks (if you have that)
- Calculating trends with averages of savings (hopefully) over time.
- Automatic categorisation of expenses. Those it doesn’t recognise you can help categorise, and I presume there’s some learning involved (otherwise I’d be interested in helping out with that).
- Breakdowns of each category down to the actual transactions.
- Graphing expenses and income over time with a multitude of time intervals to choose from.
By the time I had logged in and connected it to my bank it had already categorised over 75% of my expenses from today back to over a year ago. Getting that ratio up to 95% took around 30 minutes and most of that time was me trying to figure out where I was and what I did at the time of the transaction (and that was due to the messages being encrypted with bank-grade complexity). If it finds that you have more than one expense at the same place it automatically tags the rest. For February (shown below) there’s only one transaction not categorised. I suspect it is a lunch out with colleagues…
The screenshot above shows high-level categories and I could opt between a good standard selection as well as create my own sub-categories.
There’s one problem I foresee. Several of my expenses per month are covered by other organisations, and hence at the end of each month I usually reclaim that money. Separating both the expenses and the claims from the other transactions isn’t straightforward and is something I would gladly like to see being supported in the future. Or perhaps I need to tweak or work with the categories somehow. There seems to be a category called “exclude” which may be an option.
Not entirely surprising, my biggest expense is rent, closely followed by travels, and on third place, drinks and food. I look forward to drilling down into the details to see if I can get actionable information out. In the end, this is where change happens and Qapital is definitely miles ahead of any bank I know.
Lets just hope the banks doesn’t shut them down or anything stupid like that. Keep it up!