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Money Why is Excel getting a bad rap from Kanye?

17:07  07 may  2018
17:07  07 may  2018 Source:   thestar.com

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Kanye West has a lot to say on Twitter. I tend to ignore the American rapper’s social outbursts, but when he tweeted: “burn that excel spread sheet” I had a few feels.

Why pick on the greatest budgeting tool, ever – the humble Excel Spreadsheet? Sure, there’s an app for that – financial institutions and third-party vendors are all too eager to have you share your buying, spending and personal data with them by using their online app for free.

These web and app-based personal finance management tools have grown in popularity because they simply download or “aggregate” your banking transactions and divide the lot into their prepackaged categories. Some offer light customization, graphs and even positive messaging reminding you to stay on budget, track your spending and pay your bills.

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Kanye West may have a problem with Excel, but it’s actually a useful tool to help get your finances in order.© Charles Sykes Kanye West may have a problem with Excel, but it’s actually a useful tool to help get your finances in order.

What could go wrong? Plenty.

Third-party apps allow you to grab your data from financial institutions with just a quick tap. The most popular of the bunch is Intuit’s Mint, which supports all major Canadian banks and boasts “bank-level security.” Well, it’s great they support the banks, but check the terms of service of your financial institutions because the banks clearly do not support Mint.

For example, CIBC’s Electronic Access Agreement prohibits you from sharing your bank card, user ID and passwords with a third party. They extend their ‘”no sharing rule” to services that provide an “online account aggregation service which retrieves, consolidates and presents your accounts for the sole purpose of allowing you to view your accounts in one place.” The other banks have similar policies.

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And then there’s the matter of security. We’re living in an era where data breaches are common. Recent hack attacks at Equifax, eBay, Target, Yahoo and even Intuit have all compromised our personal and financial data despite their security measures. These corporations may get bad press and a wrist slap when hacked, but the onus is on you, the consumer, to clean up your banking, credit report and notify the Canada Revenue Agency when your SIN is used for fraudulent purposes.

Budgeting apps offered by the banks may seem like a safer bet. They have seamless integration, don’t compromise user agreements, and many offer to make managing your everyday finances easier.

RBC’s new AI service called NOMI (pronounced know-me) keeps prompting me to sign up so they can use predictive technology to move my money for me. What? Will NOMI sign my cheques too?

No way! I can’t walk into any Canadian bank without being asked “Do you want a HELOC with that?” or a teller hard-selling me a debt product, so I’m not entrusting any bank to automate my finances. Banks are businesses and are in business to profit from me. Canadians should be wary of giving banks control of their money online, in person and through an app.

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Enter the lowly budgeting spreadsheet.

Kayne West is kinda right – Excel spreadsheets are not cool. But in an era where everyone wants access to your money and data, the nerdy budget spreadsheet is a tool worthy of redemption.

By using a spreadsheet, you decouple your personal and financial data from both third-party apps and the banks. Unlike downloading transactions with an app, tracking your spending, income and expenses in a spreadsheet puts you in the driver’s seat. It’s an active, hands-on approach that forces you to face your spending and categorize your expenses.

Being more mindful with budgeting also helps you find errors and correct bad habits quickly.

Spreadsheets are generally more secure than an app. Google, Apple and Microsoft all have password-protected spreadsheets that sync to your devices and securely share with those you’ve authorized – perhaps a partner, roommate or accountant.

Customizable and flexible, there’s a free downloadable template for every need, so don’t think you need a programming background to graph your results. You can use my budget spreadsheet and be free to manage your money. I won’t track you. Promise.

Kerry K. Taylor is a financial journalist and creator of Squawkfox.com

SNL takes on Kanye West's tweets with A Quiet Place spoof .
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