In my previous blog post I looked at how the 22Seven personal finance app allows transactions to be categorised and then how that impacts on the main report, the ‘money month’. In this blost I will be looking at the powerful transaction filter which allows you to pull more detailed reports. We will also look at some tricks for taking your categorisation to the next level, which will make your reports even more powerful.
As one might expect, to get more out of the 22Seven app, one has to put more in. I’m not talking about connecting more accounts and putting in more transactions (although that would also be good), I’m talking about time. While 22Seven is very useful as it comes, if you’re prepared to put in the time, 22Seven can be an extremely powerful tool. Which can assist you not only with understanding your spending habits, but also provide you information to make decisions and even complete your tax return correctly.
We looked previously at categorising of transactions and how making your own categories can improve the reporting in the app. To take it to the next level, we need to create our own categories that are not part of the system. Let’s call them tags. I believe that the 22Seven team is planning on implementing actual tags at some point, which will be great. For now, we need to use a work-around.
As an example, let’s say I want to work out the total cost of ownership of my car. The purpose of the exercise is to see if I really need a car, or would it be cheaper to just use public transport. But, at the same time I have created several different expense categories for my car, so that I can see how much money is going toward fuel vs servicing vs maintenance, etc.
In order to be able to get a total for all car expenses in a specific period, I need to tag all car related transactions. This is done by clicking on a transaction and in the transaction detail screen, simply click ‘rename’. I can then just add #car onto the end of the original description.
There is nothing stopping you from using multiple tags on a transaction. So you may want to tag transactions that are yours vs transactions that belong to your partner or spouse. That way you could easily report on, for example, how much each of you spends on cell phone bills, etc.
Transactions can be split. So you could take a cellphone payment and split it using 2 unique tags to differentiate them. So the full amount will still get reported under cellphone (unless you’re sub categorising cellphone, data, land line, etc under ‘telecoms’), but you can use the transaction filter to see how much each person is responsible for.
While the tagging (renaming) and categorising of transactions can be done on your mobile device, advanced reporting through the Advanced Search function is only available on the web version currently.
The advanced search dialog box allows you to set detailed search criteria. There are drop downs to select from spending group, category and account. A date range can also be specified. So selecting a category like ‘cellphones’ and leaving everything else blank will show all cellphone transactions across all accounts. You can only select one category at a time, which is why it’s important to use sub-categories properly.
The string search field allows you to search for those tags you inserted by renaming transactions. Simply type in the tag and add any other criteria you need and you’ll have a list of those transactions. It will group them by month with monthly subtotals and then a grand total for all the reported transactions.
Unfortunately it will only allow you to put in one search string at a time, but you could work around that by creating different length tags. For instance if I create the following tags #celldatawife, #celldatahusband, #cellvoicewife, #cellvoicehusband, I can search for #cell and it will show me transactions with all those tags, giving me a total of cell expenditure. But then I could search for #celldata which would give me a total of our combined data calls and a search for #celldatawife would reveal one person’s spending monthly on mobile data for the specified period.
That is just an example, you could structure your tagging to suit your reporting needs. But this is all very advanced, few people need such deep reporting and even fewer have the time to rename all the relevant transactions. But it is just an illustration of the power of this tool.
The power does not stop there. Transaction listings (all, or for individual accounts, or according to your search criteria) can be exported as a CSV file which can then be opened on your computer. Microsoft Excel or some other spreadsheet software will be able to read the exported file.
Once you have it in Excel, you can do all sorts of analysis on the data, even putting it into a pivot table or creating your own graphs. This is beyond the scope of this series of posts, but perhaps they will ask me to write something for the 22Seven blog.
But this is a very useful way of getting a CSV exported file of your various accounts, whether you plan on using it for something or just want to keep a backup. This function alone makes 22Seven a useful tool for me.
What I Learned
When you put in the effort, 22Seven becomes a very powerful personal financial analysis and planning tool. It can allow you to do very granular reporting across your accounts. This sort of information can be very useful in decision making or exported for further analysis using external tools.
An interesting exercise for me was tagging my credit card fees and loyalty subscription and allocating them to the same account as my loyalty points and seeing how much benefit the loyalty programme is giving me once I deduct the subscription fees. In the case of Discovery Miles, it is still very beneficial.
Download the app (Android or iOS) and if you’re keen to share your feedback on your experience, leave comments on my posts.
This is a sponsored post.