Transaction Research Workflow?

Does anyone have recommendations on a good transaction workflow?

My wife and I want to re-adjust our budget for 2021. I am not sure if this is “too ridiculous”. But I wanted to research/categorize each individual transaction over the past 2019-2020, so that for example, I can see how many times we have gone to Costco in the last year. Were the Costco trips related to groceries or related to event planning?

Or how often did we go to Ralph’s versus Albertson’s in a given month? Etc.

My only thought is just to manually download the transactions each month and pop them into Excel?

I’m partial to excel because you can download csv transactions from most banks or cards, then you can search easily and categorize by vendor.

I’m fiddling with Banktivity, but usually stick with @r2d2’s solution, a spreadsheet, in my case Numbers. Input is monthly downloads from financial entities – I grab .csv, .qif, and PDF files from each one just to have a range of data when needed.

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I use both Banktivity and csv files dumped into Excel to capture and analyze financial transactions.

Banktivity is, in essence, a checkbook register with some digital enhancements that make it better at some things than an Excel spreadsheet. You can set up predefined income and expense categories and have Banktivity automatically assign them to imported transactions using rules. (You can also assign them manually of course.) You can also split a transaction between two or more categories. So, let’s say that you make a trip to Costco and some of what you spend is for an event and some is for your own pantry. If you want to go to the trouble of doing so, you can divvy the total up between the “Groceries” and “Events” categories. You can also set up sub-categories. For instance, you might create a subcategory of “Events” for, say, “Holiday Parties” and another for “Book Club” or “Poker Night” and assign transactions to those subcategories. Banktivity will generate some pre-defined reports for you with one or two mouseclicks, but you can also set up your own reports to show you exactly what you want to see, e.g., how much did I spend at Costco this year for “Events”?

Banktivity also makes it easy to reconcile your bank or credit card accounts and will print checks if you need to. I don’t use Banktivity to access any of my financial accounts online, though; I download a csv or ofx file from my financial institution and import it manually.

But Banktivity can be a pain to work with, too, especially if you’re used to the flexibility and power of a spreadsheet. There are things that you can do with a pivot table, for instance, that you can’t do with Banktivity. Fortunately, you can export data from Banktivity into a spreadsheet. If you’ve set up a report and want to dump the underlying transaction data into a spreadsheet for further analysis, you can do that.

I don’t know if this answers your question, but if you want to know more, just ask.