Day 16: Set up Budget and Spending Alerts

by Jason Unger

I know you’ve been waiting patiently for the last few chapters for the ebook – so here we go.

With smartphones, SMS and apps, it’s easier than ever to get automatic updates delivered straight to you wherever you are. Let’s set those up today.


Believe it or not, you are almost completely financially automated!

You’ve got your income automated, your savings automated, your billpay automated, and your spending automated. That’s amazing!

But now that the processes are in place, you need to set up easy ways to track your performance. For that, we return to Yodlee.

How to Get Budget and Spending Email Alerts

Yodlee offers the option to notify you by email when your spending in a category hits a certain percentage of your budget goal.

So if you’ve spent 90% of your entertainment budget with half the month left, you can re-evaluate your plans for the next two weeks. It’s a great reminder that you need to act smart in addition to putting smart processes into place.

To set up budget alerts, log in to Yodlee and head to “Spending Reports” then “Set Budget Goals.” At the top of the page, you’ll see a checkbox next to text that says “Notify me when my spending for any category exceeds __% of my budget goal.”

You need to determine your own tolerance for spending. Do you need reminders every 10% or 25% to better track your spending? Or can you live with an alert only when you hit 100%? Enter your choice into the blank field, click the checkbox, and then click the “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page.

You’ll notice there is also an option to “Send me a status report summarizing my spending versus my budget.” You can choose either a weekly or monthly report. Again, decide how often you want to know your status.

A monthly report gives you a full picture of your performance, but you may want to get more frequent updates.

Choose your selection and click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page.

Get Alerts by SMS Text Message

Yodlee also offers the option to send text message alerts (in addition to email) when a number of events occur, including:

  • Changes in net worth
  • Portfolio balance changes
  • Money is deposited or withdrawn
  • Your balance changes
  • A new bill is received

To set up these alerts, head to the “Options” menu and click “Customize.” Follow the “Configure Alerts” link to get the whole list.

Add in your mobile number (if you want text messages), select the alerts you’d like and customize them appropriately. Click the “Update Alerts” button and you’re good to go.

Mobile Banking Offers More Tracking Options

An up-and-coming option for tracking your money is mobile banking, using your cell phone to log in to your accounts and aggregators.

While options at banks vary, generally, mobile banking gives you the ability to:

  • check your balances and activity
  • transfer money
  • pay bills

Services like Yodlee even offer mobile versions for use on a cell phone, allowing you to access to all of your accounts and to check your net worth.

The most popular new platform for mobile banking is Apple’s iPhone, where a number of financial applications have launched and succeeded. Mint, an account aggregator, offers an application for managing and checking your account.

Banks have even gotten into the act, offering their own applications for account access.

TIP: How often you want to be notified of activity depends a lot on your confidence in your own habits. Don’t be afraid to get updates more frequently if you are worried about your spending. After a month or two, re-evaluate your standing and consider changing the alert frequency.

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