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It’s a new year and a new decade, which means many of us are setting exciting new goals or revisiting old ones we weren’t quite ready to tackle before.
And when it comes to some of the most common goals, taking control of one’s financial situation is right near the top. Whether that means earning more, spending less, or finally buckling down and creating a budget, now is the perfect time to start. (That’s true no matter when you read this.)
For people who feel like their spending is out of control, the best place to start is often with setting a budget and tracking your spending. Sometimes when people do this for a month, they’re shocked to discover how they’re spending their money.
If that sounds like a massive undertaking, relax. These days, there are dozens of financial management tools to help you build budgets and track your spending. Today we’ll look at a relatively new financial-tracking powerhouse, MoneyPatrol.
MoneyPatrol at a Glance
- Powerful financial tracking
- Customizable budgeting
- Regular alerts and notifications
- Investment tracking
- Document storage
- Top-notch security features
- Available to residents of the US and Canada
- Connects to more than 15,000 US and Canadian financial institutions
What Is MoneyPatrol?
MoneyPatrol, formerly known as AccountPatrol, is an all-in-one money management tool featuring advanced financial tracking, tenacious alerting and monitoring, and solid budgeting capabilities. The web-based version was officially released in December 2019 after six months in beta. Mobile apps for iOS and Android are currently in the works and should be available soon.
Currently available to residents of the U.S. and Canada, MoneyPatrol connects to more than 15,000 financial institutions, importing data from bank, credit card, investment, student loan, and mortgage accounts to track your overall financial picture. It auto-sorts your transactions into stock categories, but you can create your own and edit the categorization as appropriate.
MoneyPatrol helps you make a plan for your money by letting you set budgets for spending categories and merchants. It keeps track of how much you’re spending in each category (or for each merchant) and how that aligns with its corresponding budget.
For those who have signed up for many a financial management app only to basically forget about it, you’re not likely to do that with MoneyPatrol. The upcoming app provides thorough financial monitoring and consistently alerts you via email and text to help keep your spending and budgets at the top of your mind.
How Do You Get MoneyPatrol?
MoneyPatrol is currently available as a web-based platform and will soon be available as a mobile app for iOS and Android. To sign up, just head over to the website.
When registering, you provide your email address and phone number, and MoneyPatrol sends a unique verification code to each. After you confirm each code, you connect your accounts by selecting your financial institution and signing in using your login credentials. (Don’t worry, it’s secure.) MoneyPatrol then spends a few minutes transmitting your data and populating your dashboard — a visual summary of your recent spending and your overall financial position.
How Much Does MoneyPatrol Cost?
On the topic of cost, I have good news and bad news. Bad news first: MoneyPatrol isn’t free.
The good news? It’s fairly affordable at $84 annually, which works out to be $7 per month. And like many paid financial management tools, you can take it for a test run with a free 15-day trial.
At the time of this review, there was some inconsistent information on MoneyPatrol’s website regarding the duration of the free trial. Most pages stated 15 days, but I saw one instance stating 30 days. When I reached out to MoneyPatrol’s team, they confirmed the free trial is 15 days.
Now, I know the most frugal among us may cringe at the thought of paying a subscription fee for a tool designed to help save money. It feels a bit backwards, right?
But if MoneyPatrol can help you recoup funds by giving you tighter control of your finances, you could come out on top. The average person probably wastes more than $7 a month. Think about it.
A credit card isn’t required to sign up, but if you don’t put one on file, MoneyPatrol prompts you to input the details every time you access your dashboard. If you’re using the free trial, you can just hit cancel and continue on, but once the 15 days are up, you’ll lose access to your account until you provide payment info.
Top Features of MoneyPatrol
MoneyPatrol’s best feature is its powerful financial tracking system. Once you connect your accounts, it auto-sorts your transactions into spending categories, labeling them according to merchant. You can also manually add your own transactions.
MoneyPatrol comes with 13 preset categories but you can add your own and change categorization as necessary. From there, it summarizes your spending in several useful ways.
Your dashboard is like your financial landing page. It summarizes key spending trends with the use of simple graphs that you can customize by time period. You get:
- A horizontal bar graph summarizing spending by merchant
- A line graph depicting daily spending
- A vertical bar graph displaying weekly spending
- A summary of your monthly cash flow
- A pie chart showing spending by category
- Tables outlining recurring merchants and utility bill reminders
- A summary of your credit card accounts and usage
- A transaction calendar by week or month
Under the flow tab, you can view bar graphs for your cash flow for three, six, or 12 months. The first graph shows you a bar for expenses and a bar for income for each month, making it easy to see how the two compare. The second graph shows you one bar for each month, with that bar representing your net cash flow. If it’s green, your cash flow is positive. If it’s red, it’s negative, meaning you spent more than you brought in. The flow tab also calculates your average monthly expenses, income, and cash flow.
You can use MoneyPatrol to create a monthly budget template for any existing category or merchant with the click of the “create budget” button. Once you do, an easy-to-understand graph and table appear, showing you how your spending aligns with your projections.
The budgeting function is user-friendly and visually pleasing. Even someone brand new to budgeting apps financial management tools will catch on in a flash. That said, there are two drawbacks worth mentioning.
The first is that you can only create budgets for existing categories and merchants. That means you can’t plan your spending in a custom category until after you’ve started spending in it. From a financial management perspective, that doesn’t make sense.
The second is that you’re limited to monthly budgets. There is a dropdown menu for frequency suggesting you can choose different time frames, but at least for me, that option isn’t available. This is problematic because not everyone budgets in monthly increments. In that case, creating your own spreadsheet budget might be a good option for you.
The good news: I had a great conversation with one of MoneyPatrol’s helpful representatives, and I learned that they have plans to make the budgeting feature even more powerful.
Alerts and Insights
MoneyPatrol promotes financial mindfulness by sending you regular updates via email and text. In fact, it sends notifications and alerts every day that money moves in or out of your accounts. You get notified of recent expense and income transactions, and you receive an alert when you reach or exceed your budget in a given category. You also get a weekly summary of your cash outflow so you always know where you stand.
Their alerting system also notifies you of suspected fraudulent charges, ATM withdrawals, and upcoming bill payments.
To be honest, I find all the notifications a little overwhelming, and right now, there isn’t an option to opt out completely. Under the settings menu, you can opt out of either text or email alerts, but not both. However, when I spoke to MoneyPatrol, I learned they are working on offering more flexible options. That said, someone working hard to become more mindful of their spending habits might find these regular reminders very helpful.
MoneyPatrol tracks the value of your investment portfolio and breaks down your holdings. This feature isn’t very robust (check out Personal Capital if investment tracking is your main priority), but it’s quite useful when you have investments at multiple financial institutions.
When all your investments are at one bank, you see them all when you log in to your online banking. But when they’re at a few banks, you don’t have the convenience of seeing them all on one page with the values totaled. MoneyPatrol solves that problem.
Top Notch Security
When granting access to your financial accounts, security is a valid concern. With MoneyPatrol, you needn’t worry. Your data is transferred using 256-bit, military-grade encryption, your login credentials are never stored on MoneyPatrol’s servers, and your data is never shared with third parties. In addition, MoneyPatrol offers multi-factor authentication, making unauthorized access extremely unlikely.
This isn’t necessarily a top feature, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s sort of unique. MoneyPatrol offers document storage, meaning you can upload receipts, statements, or any other financial document you want to keep on one platform. This might be useful when saving receipts for tax purposes.
Who Should Consider MoneyPatrol?
- People Who Prioritize Financial Tracking: MoneyPatrol is a financial tracking powerhouse. Seriously, it breaks down your spending by week, month, category, and merchant. It gives you bar graphs, line graphs, and pie charts. The transaction calendar is also a favorite. It really puts your spending in context (when are you spending most?). If you want to know exactly how and where you spend your money and how it trends over time, MoneyPatrol will suit your needs.
- Anyone Who Wants Regular Alerts and Notifications: Powerful financial tracking is fantastic, but if you’re not disciplined about logging in or opening the app, it won’t do you much good. Fortunately, MoneyPatrol knows that people get busy or sometimes lazy, and it isn’t letting you off the hook. You will get regular emails and texts letting you know what’s moving in and out of your accounts. This way, there’s no avoiding it.
- People Looking for an All-in-One Tool: MoneyPatrol tracks your bank, credit card, mortgage, investment, and student loan accounts, so you can get an overview of your financial picture in one place, even when your accounts are spread across multiple financial institutions. It also offers customizable budgeting and document storage.
Who Should Avoid MoneyPatrol?
- Anyone Who Values an Easy-to-Use Desktop Design: While MoneyPatrol does an excellent job of using visual aids like graphs to tell your financial story, the web-based desktop interface itself leaves something to be desired. The yellow main page navigation is superimposed on a white dashboard, making it difficult to see. In the budgeting tab, there are blue buttons above the main page navigation, but their labels are mysteriously cut off. Note that these issues don’t apply to the mobile view of the site, and that I experienced them while using a Mac. This may not be the case for PC users.
- The Fee-Averse: After the free 15-day trial, MoneyPatrol costs $7 per month, or $84 per year. There are free financial management solutions available, so if you’re not willing to pay a fee, skip MoneyPatrol and check them out instead.
- Zero-Sum or Envelope Budgeters: MoneyPatrol’s budgeting feature is user-friendly, except for the caveats mentioned earlier. But if you rock a zero-sum budget or use the envelope system (which is a style of zero-sum budget), you might find it lacking. MoneyPatrol does a great job of tracking how your spending aligns with your budget and doesn’t let you forget it if you overspend in a category. But unlike more robust budgeting apps like YNAB, there’s no mechanism for quickly balancing your budget so that income minus expenses always equal zero.
MoneyPatrol is a good all-around financial management tool that excels in financial tracking.
If your primary goal is to understand how, when, and where you’re spending your money, MoneyPatrol can help. This is especially true if you’re a visual learner because MoneyPatrol’s graphs make understanding your financial picture really easy. If you want regular notifications so you’re always aware of your cash flow, it’s likely a good fit.
MoneyPatrol makes a good alternative to Mint, but the price tag might give pause to the fee-averse. However, you try the free 15-day trial and find yourself more mindful and less spend-y, $84 might be worth it.
The budgeting feature is good, but it isn’t as powerful as some other apps. That said, many of those apps are 100% budgeting while MoneyPatrol strives for comprehensiveness.
Is it best-in-class at everything it does? No, but MoneyPatrol is an expert in financial tracking; it’s on top of notifications; and it’s pretty good at budgeting. For many, that’s a winning combination.
Have you tried MoneyPatrol? What’s your take?