Which app and tracking system will work best for you depends on what kind of portfolio you have and where you are in your investment journey. Different types of investors will be best served with different platforms.
What matters most is finding one that works for you and that you enjoy using. The more your investment accounts feel like fun (or at least something you like), the more inclined you’ll be to take charge of them. The more they feel like homework, the less likely you are to stay on top of them.
Ignoring your money could mean opportunity costs, paying extra fees, or simply not understanding your money as best you can. Take your time and find the investment tracker that works best for you.
Although the process of recording all of this information alone can be a helpful exercise, the real importance of keeping a trading journal comes in reviewing it.
Every week, sit down with a cup of coffee in a comfortable chair and review your journal. In particular, look for patterns. Which days of the week are stronger for you — if you’re panicking and selling out on Mondays and Fridays, you may be having trouble with liquidity. After all, those can be days when the volume can be at its thinnest.
Other things to look for include:
Do you have more success with short or long trades?
Are you adjusting your trading system to low-priced stocks versus higher-priced ones?
Are there certain times of the day during which you have more success?
What types of alerts or reports are more likely to affect your trading action?
What’s the most comfortable trade size for you?
Finding answers to these and other questions from analyzing your trading journal can help you create and implement a successful system.
There are other items you’ll want to include in your trading journal. Here’s where using a binder comes in handy.
Before and during your trades, print or cut out and save anything you may have come across that influenced your thinking in regard to this position. It can be a blog about this one particular stock… or it could be a newspaper article about an event that might affect an entire industry. Anything that you found during your research.
The idea is to save anything that influenced your trade so that you can analyze your own trading systems.
A trading journal is a log in which you keep track of what trades you make, your reasons for making them, and their outcomes. It can be as uncomplicated as writing everything down in a dollar-store binder, or it can involve using in-depth software.
Trading journals are particularly popular with traders who focus on complicated trades, such as those on the foreign exchange market (forex). But anyone who wants to play the stock or options markets can benefit.
Now, one of the biggest misconceptions about a trading journal is that you use it just to log which trades you made and whether or not you profit. That’s not the point.
The point of a trading journal is to help yourself become a better trader. It’s not about giving yourself a pat on the back when you do something right. It’s about learning from both your successes and your mistakes. It’s about analyzing what you’ve done so that you can perform better in the future.
Another option is to use software on your computer to track your portfolio. There are a couple of different options you can use, including Excel mentioned above.
Quicken is a powerful tool to track your investments. It keeps you updated on your own finances and what the stock market is doing in general. You link your Quicken account to your brokerage account, and it downloads any income and expenses from your investments. You can use it to track investments, dividends, and return on investment (ROI).
Quicken stores your data on your computer and not on a remote server, which makes it very safe. You can search for and update individual stock and fund prices using the ticker symbols in the program. The same index-tracking system provides users the latest available market prices, as well as the latest news headlines about the investments you track. This means you can be up to date on the market and make fast decisions about your investments.
Using Quicken, you can easily see all your portfolio fees, which can help you determine your true rate of return.
You can’t track your investments directly with QuickBooks Pro. Instead, you’ll have to track them through what is called an “asset account” on the platform. Since QuickBooks is designed for business accounting and not personal finances, it isn’t nearly as robust as some other options. To add an asset account, click on the “Chart of Accounts” tab and then “Add new account” and select “asset account.”
With QuickBooks Online you are able to track personal money you use to pay business bills or fund your business. (This is called a capital investment.) You’ll need to link up a bank account to track these.
Google Sheets comes free with a Gmail address. Sheets are easy to use on the go, as you can edit them from any computer that has internet access. (For Excel, you must have the file and program downloaded onto whatever computer you’re using.)
In Google Sheets, you can click on the Functions tab and select “financial” functions to be shown a list of formulas you can use.
Some helpful formula options in Google Sheets are:
ACCRINTM, which determines accrued interest security pays at maturity
INTRATE, which calculates the effective interest rate
While the major downside to either Excel or Google Sheets is you have to manually input your investment data, spreadsheets work very well for tracking and comparing data. Once the numbers are in the spreadsheet, you can use formulas to add up your investments over time, and you have a handy place to see your investment history in one go.
Excel is part of the Microsoft Office suite, so you’ll have to purchase that. Once you have Excel, it’s a powerful tool for tracking your investments. Excel has a deeper formula and functions capacity than does Google Sheets. So, you can do more to customize your Excel spreadsheets than your Google Sheets. In fact, Excel simply has more capacity for data; if you’re looking to import 15 years’ worth of data, Excel is the way to go.
On Excel, you can manually insert functions, insert using the “insert function” button, or select one from the formulas tab. A few common formulas for investment tracking are:
=DAYS, which calculates the number of days between two dates and can show your portfolio progress over time
=AVERAGE, which calculates the average of a set of numbers
=MAX and =MIN, which will pull the maximum and minimum numbers from a set, respectively
You can also decide to keep track of your investments yourself using Excel or Google Sheets. These allow you to customize your own spreadsheets to track your investments. This is a lot more work than using a preexisting program but has the added benefit of being completely customizable.
Spreadsheets are also useful for their help with investment calculations and projections. You can use formulas to calculate dividend income or forecast investment projections over time. And if you’re interested in FIRE (financial independence, retire early), you can use your spreadsheets to track your investments and your timeline.
Seeking Alpha is an investing community that features crowd-sourced content and provides a robust suite of stock analysis tools. information. Users can choose from three plans: Basic (free), Premium ($19.99 per month) and Pro ($199.99 per month).
The Basic plan includes access to newsletters, stock charts, Wall Street ratings for stocks, and more. Premium unlocks several first-party Seeking Alpha tools like Stock Quant ratings and performance ratings. Pro subscribers, meanwhile, get a completely ad-free experience and are able to access Pro-only content and newsletters.
Morningstar is a market and investing research and education platform. On their site, you can see the stock performance and also find educational articles and seek advice. It’s a great platform to keep track of market performance. And you can find information from experts to understand what you’re seeing.
You can also set up online portfolios. Morningstar has a special feature called “X-Ray,” which gives you the opportunity to enter your mutual funds so you can see your portfolio holdings broken down by the underlying stocks within each of those funds.
This is a really powerful way to see what you are investing in, as well as a way to track performance over time. It’s also something that differentiates Morningstar from a lot of other investment tracking tools.