The saying goes that you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

With this in mind, a couple of years ago I committed to tracking all our household expenses to the last penny. I’ve succeeded for 1 year, 8 months, 4 weeks, 2 days, and 12 hours. It became a daunting task as I had to aggregate and categorise all cash and card payments I did every day with all the cash and card payments my wife did every day. Missing a day was no fun since it meant twice the effort.

Nevertheless, this effort provided great insights into our spending habits, so I decided to keep the practice. However, I needed to KISS it first. I mean, to find a simpler and more straightforward way.

I wanted a system that once set up, I could forget about it and redirect my time, attention, and memory to the other things that matter.

The system

In my research, I found a plethora of solutions for tracking expenses. Just google expense tracking and you’ll see. However, all required extra effort.

The system I was looking for was already in my pocket and I was already using it without being aware. I’m talking about Revolut.

Here’s how it works, in 5 simple steps:

  1. Open a Revolut account and use it as your only payment source.
  2. Order a card for each member of your household.
  3. Top-up your Revolut account with your spending money every month.
  4. Everybody pays by card, every time.
  5. In case you need cash, withdraw it from your card.

Voilà! Questions?

Frequently asked questions

Does the system work only with Revolut?

If you’re not into Revolut or you don’t want to open yet another bank account, you can use the system with any banking system as long as it has the following attributes:

  • tracks your transactions in real-time
  • automatically categorises the transactions on your behalf
  • runs analytics in the background
  • optionally, allows having more than one card associated with the account
  • optionally, allows you to set a budget

Do I need to order a card for each member of my family?

If you don’t want to order new cards, which on Revolut comes with an extra cost, you can add the primary card to the Apple Wallet or Android Pay on each family member’s phone. It can even be a virtual card. That’s how we do it.

Can I use the system in combination with a credit card?

If you spend on credit, you can still benefit from this system. You have to top-up your Revolut account using your credit cards and make your shopping with the Revolut card. Topping up the Revolut account is like an online payment and most credit card providers accept it.

Is it 100% automated?

Yes, Revolut tracks all my payments and automatically categorises them. Plus, it offers analytics, budgets, and more. However, sometimes I still have to manually edit a category for a transaction or hide some transactions from the analytics.

You mention Revolut a lot. Are you affiliated with them?

I use and recommend Revolut in the context of this system, although they have a lot more features that you may hate or you may love. If you’re interested in giving the system a try, you can get started by opening a free Revolut account.