Using software like Quicken or iBank, I’ve always budgeted, tracked and monitored our family’s expenditures by category. In this area, the internet age has delivered both improvements and setbacks.
On the positive side, my finance software now connects to all my financial institutions and automatically downloads and categorizes my transactions. On the negative side, such a large portion of our purchases happen online, that my iBank reports have gone through a progression somewhat like this:
Although we clearly know where the money’s going (and how much), it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of what that money’s getting spent on. And I’m confident things are only going to get worse, as these companies both expand the products they sell—I recently bought headphones from Apple, and shaving cream from Amazon—but additional become payment processing intermediaries themselves.
While I’m sure it’s not at the top of their list, giant retailers like Amazon and Apple need to make improvements in their reporting, to help us keep track of where our money’s being spent. (And this is likely even more important for businesses, than it is for individuals.)